Tuesday, January 24, 2012


For reasons beyond my comprehension, I've neglected the Castor Oil Tree of my ponderings. I have been pondering, one of the things I do most and best. I just haven't been writing about them. I'm going to have a January 24th resolution to write more about the things I'm thinking about. (That and pie crust....)

Today I had lunch with a dear friend and was telling her, as we walked the couple of blocks from the restaurant to our cars in the weird 50 degree January weather, that I was reminded of the first line of a poem I once wrote on a day like today. I have no memory of the rest of the poem, but the first line endures:

'When it comes, on a winter day, such a misplaced spring afternoon,'

Not a bad first line except I think, when I wrote it, in my early 20's I wrote "misplac'ed', which, no matter how you read it is more than a tad self-absorbed.

But I was self-absorbed at 22. We all were. We all are, I suspect, but age wears off the edges in a remarkable and forgiving way.

I try to remember that oh-so-young-man I was. I try to remember but I believe I "re-remember".

It's another poem I wrote that caused me to ponder the fact that I often "re-remember". That poem was about an event in my life that happened at a strange conference I went to decades ago where all the participants came as 'characters' they had created. Nobody was their selves. Nobody else knew who anyone else was. It was in the late 60's or early 70's when such conceits seemed de rigour and, actually, 'cool'. (Notice how 'cool' has been reincarnated in our time? And not for the first time. There was the 'cool' of the early jazz life, the 'cool' of the Beat Generation, the 'cool' of the Hippies and now the 'cool' of Gen Xers. The last seminarian I worked with said 'cool' in ways I had no connection with. "Cool" to her, seemed to indicate a kind of acknowledgement or agreement--it wasn't the "Cool" of something really special and unique that I used it as. It was reduced, it seemed to me, to a synonym for "OK". But that's just me talkin', it's probably different for each generation that says, cool....)

Back to Re-remembering: I went to the conference as Jonah--little surprise there since the name of my blog came from the Book of Jonah. I was, at that point, feeling like that minor prophet--dragged, against my will, into 'ministry', for God's sake....Well, exactly...when I wanted to be an American Literature professor in some small liberal arts college and write the Great American Novel. I suddenly found myself a PRIEST--Holy Cow!!!

I was in the Nineveh called The Episcopal Church, against my will. So I went as 'Jonah' to the conference which was called, I still remember (though my memory is more suspect each day) "Discovering the ME in THEE".

The designers obviously thought that coming to the three days as a 'made-up' personality, a 'created being', would free us from the ego of our true selves and give us insight into the 'made up' personalities of those around us. Me in Thee and all that. I get it. Cool....

Anyway, I had this intense flirtation with a woman who came as 'Serena'. We even kissed (and had both signed a release that we were responsible for our own 'emotional attachments'--I swear we did, so the designers must have imagined that if you "weren't yourself", you might give the Self you weren't permission to do things you, as yourself, wouldn't have done.....Lordy, Lordy, isn't that 'cool'?

Obviously, 'ego-less', that's what happened in those three intense days for 'Serena' and 'Jonah'.

I wrote a rather good poem about it and called it "The Nun I Loved". In the poem, Serena was a Sister of Mercy suddenly jarred from her vows to kiss an Episcopal priest. We had a 'crush' on each other.

The poem ends--I'll try to find it and put it on the blog--with me on a plane going home starting to write Serena a letter when I realize I don't know her real name or what convent she's in....And, for her part, she knows nothing of who I really am....

OK, I'm thinking of that poem and that event and I Re-Remember that it wasn't like that at all. There was a Jonah and there was a Serene and we did have a three day 'crush' and we did kiss....but here's the thing, in my Re-Remembrance I re-remembered that Serena wasn't nun at all and that, in fact, her husband, a Congregational Minister, was another participant in the workshop under the name of "Tyler".

So, here's the problem: which memory is true, like TRUE?

Or are they both?

Or is neither?

It was shocking to realize a poem I enjoy that I wrote was a pack of lies....Or was it?

I invite you to 'ponder' memory....And re-remembering....

Take that to your Castor Oil Tree and mull it over....

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.