Monday, February 29, 2016


I am a yellow-dog Democrat (in case you don't know, that means if the Virgin Mary was running for office as a Republican vs. a Democrat Yellow Dog, I'd vote for the latter....

But the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) is testing my yellow-dog-ness.

I've gotten emails today, ostensibly from the President, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi asking for money for the DCCC since Paul Ryan and the Republicans are raking it in hand over fist and Democrats are sitting on their hands (and wallets) and being shown up like the fools we are.

Finally as email titled, "we're desperate", reminding me I'd heard today from the President, Vice-President and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives and if that wasn't enough, they were going to break into my house, eat my homework, kill my dog and disconnect my internet if I didn't sent them at least $5 to show those blow-hard Republicans (though donations in triple digits were preferred!) that we weren't taking their beyond-all-imagining fund-raising for granted.

I sent no money to the three ranking members of my party or to the sniveling little snot who told me the DCCC was 'desperate' and dying without me.

Just a few moments ago I got my 5th (count them, 5) email of the day from the DCCC to tell me they'd just had their BIGGEST FUNDRAISING DAY of the entire election cycle.

Imagine that!

And I hadn't sent a dime.

Good for us.

But there was still 90 minutes left for me to 'chip in' some money.

Hell, I'd donated nothing and it was the BIGGEST FUNDRAISING DAY ever. They should send me $35 and we Democrats would take control of the congress in November.....

Insane but not stupid

Wayne told me a story about a friend of his who went to pick up his mother who was a cook at what we used to call "insane asylums" before we were politically correct.

Wayne's friend was waiting for the shift to be over when he noticed that one of the front wheels of his truck had lost all but one lug nut. If that one came off on the way home his wheel would fall off and he'd wreck with his mother on board.

He was puzzling over his predicament when one of the inmates wandered by.

"Take one nut off each of the other three tires and you'll be fine until you can get somewhere to get new ones," the woman said to Wayne's friend.

Of course it was the perfect solution--each wheel would have three nuts holding them on.

Wayne's friend thanked the woman and started to ask her how she figured that out, but since she was in a mental institution he didn't quite know what to say. Finally, he sputtered out, "how did you think of that?"

The woman rolled her eyes, "I may be insane," she told him, "but I'm not stupid!"

A helpful distinction. Insane but not stupid.

And quite helpful in looking at most of the candidates left in the Republican field for President.

Rubio is obviously smart, if he could just keep spouting the same things over and again.

Cruz is scary smart. Smart and Scary.

And Trump--well, obviously the guy is brilliant to have convinced so many people to vote for him.

So, they prove the point: you can be insane but not stupid.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

When people die

One of the most humbling and vital things a priest does happens when people die.

I've often thought I was privileged to be present to the 'moving on' of so many over the years. I long ago lost count at around 500 funerals I've presided over. And the time before with the one moving on and the time after with those left behind. It has been a privilege I do not deserve to be present and hopefully 'available' to people in those times.

And one of the things I give myself credit for is having no 'comforting words' at the time of moving on from this life to whatever comes next. I have no comforting words since I have absolutely no idea at all about 'whatever comes next'. I just don't know. It's that simple.

On an upside I would tell you "there are just some things I leave to God": and one of them is death.

On a more honest moment I would tell you, "I just don't know what happens next. It's that simple."

Kurt Vonnegut--perhaps my favorite writer ever--told a story about an Episcopal priest on Martha's Vineyard, where Vonnegut had a home, who would fall apart when one of the parishioners died. Vonnegut liked that about the priest and said, "there's something comforting about putting a man of God back together".

I don't 'fall apart' when people die. I am, I pray, what is called 'a non-anxious presence'. I am simply there--no answers and all.

This all comes up because Burt died and I'm presiding at his funeral tomorrow. I've known him for somewhere around 5 years (my confusion with linear time and all...) which means I've only known him in his 90's because he was 95 when he died this week.

Burt was in WW II--not many of those left--and, in the time I knew him was a dear, dear man.

I think of myself as 'getting old' and Burt was nearly 30 years older than me. Life, like Time, is relative.

If you asked me on a good day about my own death I'd tell you I'm at least as curious as troubled.

On a bad day, I'd lie and say I'm not afraid of 'that good night'....

Being at Burt's wake this afternoon, I was reminded of the poem below. I wrote it over eight years ago when I was a full-time priest. In those days I was often with 'holy ones'. Burt is the most recent of them all.

God love you, Burt. (And, though I don't 'know' much...I know God loves you.)


I drive home through pain, through suffering,
through death itself.

I drive home through Cat-scans and blood tests
and X-rays and Pet-scans (whatever they are)
and through consultations of surgeons and oncologists
and even more exotic flora with medical degrees.

I drive home through hospitals and houses
and the wondrous work of hospice nurses
and the confusion of dozens more educated than me.

Dressed in green scrubs and Transfiguration white coats,
they discuss the life or death of people I love.

And they hate, more than anything, to lose the hand
to the greatest Poker Player ever, the one with all the chips.
And, here’s the joke, they always lose in the end—
the River Card turns it all bad and Death wins.

So, while they consult and add artificial poison
to the Poison of Death—shots and pills and IV’s
of poison—I drive home and stop in vacant rooms
and wondrous houses full of memories
and dispense my meager, medieval medicine
of bread and wine and oil.

Sometimes I think…sometimes I think…
I should not drive home at all
since I stop in hospitals and houses to bring my pitiful offering
to those one step, one banana peel beneath their foot,
from meeting the Lover of Souls.

I do not hate Death. I hate dying, but not Death.
But it is often too much for me, stopping on the way home
to press the wafer into their quaking hands;
to lift the tiny, pewter cup of bad port wine to their trembling lips;
and to smear their foreheads with fragrant oil
while mumbling much rehearsed words and wishing them
whole and well and eternal.

I believe in God only around the edges.
But when I drive home, visiting the dying,
I’m the best they’ll get of all that.

And when they hold my hand with tears in their eyes
and thank me so profoundly, so solemnly, with such sweet terror
in their voices, then I know.

Driving home and stopping there is what I’m meant to do.
A little bread, a little wine and some sweet smelling oil
may be—if not enough—just what was missing.

I’m driving home, driving home, stopping to touch the hand of Death.
Perhaps that is all I can do.
I tell myself that, driving home, blinded by pain and tears,
having been with Holy Ones.

8/2007 jgb

Friday, February 26, 2016

Third grade recess

I haven't seen such behavior since third grade as was on display at the Republican Debate last night.

I think Trump, Rubio and Cruz should just mud wrestle for the nomination. They came close last night--taunting and insulting each other like 9 year old brat boys.

John Casic could just shake his head on one end of the five and Ben Carson even once said, "would someone insult ME!" because the three whiny, potty mouthed guys in the middle got to respond to an insult.

Not much of any substance, besides challenges of each others' integrity, got discussed.

He who is loudest, it seems, wins.

For a long while I was amused by all the GOP fussing. Now it has gone beyond the pale. Could Cruz, Rubio and Trump sit down and have a drink together without throwing vodka and tonic in each others' faces? I'm not sure any more.

There is nothing wrong with a spirited debate on issues. Issues, after all, can be looked at from different points of view.

But all I could hear was personal attacks and character assassination. I was actually shocked that no one mentioned the size of one of the other debater's genitals.

Well, in fact, they did--in political code.

What a mess.

How do we raise the level of debate to middle school, at least?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

3 hours in hell (well, not really....)

I got to the Department of Motor Vehicles' office in Hamden a few minutes before noon.

I was in Bern's truck, calling her, ready to leave, at a few minutes after 3.

It wasn't 'fun' by any means, but the longer I thought about that 3 hours, the less it seemed like hell.

I started out standing outside in a line that was a couple of hundred people long. A sign when I finally got inside said "THIS BUILDING CANNOT HAVE MORE THAN 200 PEOPLE". Since there were about 125 people sitting in chairs (and the line never got shorter) I'm not sure there was any time when there were 'only 200 people' in the building!

It took about 2 hours and 20 minutes to get my ticket to actually be waited on. That transaction took about a minute. I waited about 40 more minutes until my number came up on the screen. Getting a new registration and new license plates took maybe 3 minutes. So, of the 180+ minutes, only 4 minutes were consumed with my actual business for being there. That's 2.2% if you do the math!

Hurry up and wait!

Sounds like a nightmare, right?

But there were things in that 3 hours that give me faith in human beings. First of all, I didn't see any visible anger, though I was angry and I assume everyone else was two. There wasn't a riot--which, given the 97.8% of the time that was essentially wasted would have been almost righteous--and people were friendly and kind (letting people get out of line to go the the bathroom and come back without complaint).

I should have known this was a marathon when the first thing I saw once I got actually inside the main room was a snack bar. "Who would eat here?" I initially asked myself. Then, two hours in, I realized most of us were missing lunch! And all the kids were getting hungry.

And there were lots of kids--dozens of them, all pre-school--and, wonder of wonders, all but one little girl named Queen, were incredibly well behaved. Astonishing, really. And I saw or heard not one parent yell at or hit a child. That's better than at Stop and Shop.

And who were all these people? Not lawyers, I don't think, though 1/4 were, like me, middle class of the white, black and Hispanic variety. But many were not affluent. I talked to 6 people who work at night and were passing up sleep to come to the DMV.

I never thought I'd say this--but Smart Phones were helpful in keeping the social contract of kindness and patience. About 80% of the folks were looking at their phones while they waited. I had a book and read, standing in line, moving more slowly than a snail.

There were only 2 DMV workers giving out tickets to actually do your business and 15 or so doing that business. So the sitting was shorter than the standing. Not a bad strategy, if you think about it.

There was a level of politeness, patience, 'we're all in this together' that I seldom experience except at church.

I came to deeply respect all those people swimming upstream with me. I felt a connection...even a 'community' with them.

What could have simply been 3 hours of hell, taught me a respect and appreciation of my fellow humans.

What a gift in a time that could have been pure stress. I'm thankful to all those folks and to the DMV workers who were patient and kind as well.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The basement door

I just brought my newly washed clothes up from the basement. I left the door from the living room standing open as I went down and up.

I couldn't (or wouldn't) have done that a few weeks ago. I would have shut the door when I went down and secured it with the little latch on the inside.

Every time, for 16 years, that someone opened the basement door, Luke, our cat would come running. Luke tried every way in the world to get in the basement whenever he could.

Our house was built in 1850, so none of the doors shut flush (and no two windows are exactly the same size--but that's another issue). Over time we installed little latches on a couple of bedroom doors and the basement door to keep Luke on the outside of those doors. He would reach into the opening under the basement door, even if it was, for all intent and purpose, closed, and pull it open and run down.

Because our house is 165 years old, some of the floors in the full basement are still dirt floors--only the front of the basement has concrete floors. Luke loved it down there because it was damp and dank and inviting to moles. Over the years, he brought half a dozen or so moles up to us as gifts. For an indoor cat, he was lethal to small critters.

He'd stay in the basement for over an hour sometimes and come up filthy when we finally called him. No matter where he was, if you called "Lukie! Lukie!" he'd come running. Very dog like, I thought. Bern thought he believed we had a pork chop for him.

I carried down a waist high container of clothes whenever I washed. Holding that with my knees, I used both hands to latch the basement door. I often wondered if someday I'd lose my balance on the narrow stairs and fall.

I don't have to worry about that, now that Luke is dead. The dog has never once came into the basement. I just leave the door standing open.

That's the only good thing about Luke's moving on. I can leave the basement door open when carrying clothes.

Every time I do, though, I sigh when I don't shut the door.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

That kind of morning...

I'm celebrating at St. James in Higganum for Lent and Easter. St. James has church at 9 a.m. (a very un-Anglican time, by the way!) and is at least a half-mile away. So I have to get up before 7, take the dog out, eat breakfast and leave.

This morning was that kind of morning so I didn't get up until 7:08 and the dog sniffed more than he did his business, so I didn't eat breakfast before I left.

Turning off I-691 onto I-91 N. an unmarked car (rather sporty car!) pulled me over with full lights and sound. The State Police Officer asked me where I was heading.

"Church", I told him, trying to score points.

It turns out that my registration expired in February of 2013--or was falsely cancelled (one of the problems the CT DMV has had)--and the officer could have impounded my car then and there but since my insurance was current and I was a church-going type, he let me drive away but told me, "you're in the system" (ominous that!) and needed to get this worked out asap. He also told me "it could happen to any of us. Don't beat yourself up...."

I worked the whole encounter into my sermon--talking about how 'each moment' holds the possibility of encountering God and finding grace. We need to 'live in the moment', as cliched as that sounds. I felt grace and I drove away, hungry and shook up, but still on my way to church.

Church and the class I'm leading on John's gospel were great!

Sometimes the 'moments' on that kind of morning can be grace-filled.

But just to prove it was 'that kind of morning', when I went to use the bathroom before coming home (something men of my age always do--pee before getting into a car!) I almost wet myself because I'd put my boxer shorts on backwards and there was no opening to be found!

The problem was, I buy all my clothes bigger than I need. I like 'loose things', even shoes. My feet are 10 at most but I buy 10 1/2 or sometimes, for boots and such, 11's. Same with boxer shorts, so I can't tell they're on backward.

The rest of the day has turned out better than this morning boded. (Is that how you spell the pass tense of 'bode'? My spell check didn't catch it but it looks funny to me.)

Hoping your tomorrow morning isn't 'one of those'....

Friday, February 19, 2016

the folly of the gods...

This morning, when I brushed my teeth, shaved my neck and cheeks and took a shower, I used more water than many around the world have in a week.

For some reason, I have had a growing awareness of my privilege. And it is a troubling experience.

I'm 68 years old and never in my life have I wanted for much of anything. And I've never lived in fear. I've always known where my next meal is coming from...or some meal months in the future. I've always been able to drink tap water with no concerns. We don't lock our doors except when we're away for several days. I just assume I'll be as safe and free tomorrow as I've always been.

The list could go on and on--I am privileged and safe and secure in a way most people on the earth aren't. It is a sobering thought--'why me?'

I hear politicians take my privilege for granted and see it as an example as 'American Exceptionalism'--we simple 'deserve' what we've got that so many don't.

I'm profoundly troubled by the divides around the world and in my own community.

It was a commercial on TV that advised not to let the water run while you brush your teeth that prompted all this introspection.

I don't remember who paid for the ad, but it pointed out how many of the world's people spend vast amounts of time walking miles to get water for their families.

That message got inside my skin and mind and heart.

How blessed and privileged I am! And the question is 'why?'

I'm not sure there is a reason besides the luck of my being born in the US to hard working parents who believed absolutely in education.

And I'm as yet not sure what to do about my sudden insight into how inexplicably blessed I am.

I'll start with this: being always, every moment, grateful for my life and to be more compassionate toward everyone.

I hope I'll be led to add to that response. But I know this and know it fare well--I will never again, not ever, take my privilege/luck/good fortune/blessedness for granted.

Not ever.

(And you shouldn't the way. Maybe that's another part of my response to the sudden, intuitive knowledge of how blessed I've been--I'll remind others of their blessings....)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Watching my photos....

Somehow, I don't remember how, I got my computer to give a slide show of the photos I have stored on it when it goes to sleep.

Sometimes I just sit and watch them scroll by.

They are all at least 8 years old because the only grandchildren in them are Emma and Morgan as babies and they're now 9 1/2.

Some of the photos are in Josh and Cathy's apartment in Brooklyn, where they haven't lived for 6 or 7 years. Most of the photos are in and around the house we've lived in for over 25 years. Some, very artful, are taken on Block Island, where we used to go for vacation.

At least 3 cats and 3 dogs are in them. Catherine and Luke and 'big Fatty'--our worst cat ever--who had a name once but became 'big Fatty' and, late in his life, 'big F***'. Really. An awful cat. There is dear Sadie dog and Bela as a puppy and Cathy and Josh's now dead dog, Sumi. Great dogs all.

The only people in the photos are Bern and me and Josh and Cathy and Mimi (no Tim, a little before he was always around) and Morgan and Emma as babies. There are photos of Bern and Mimi and me holding the babies, with them happy or unhappy or asleep. There are photos of the remarkable views from Block Island and of Sadie and Bern and I in that magical place.

There are photos of Josh and Mimi and Cathy and Bern together. And of me with Josh and of everyone with a dog or cat or two.

There's one shot that brings tears of joy to my eyes of Bern working in our yard, raking leaves. She is so lovely in that photo it makes me week.

There are photos of the 5 of us in NYC, on the street and in a restaurant, Mimi pulling up her sweater to cover her mouth, Josh and Cathy looking weird, everyone but me on the street--this must have been the day Josh was accepted to the bar in NY--all those.

And photos of a wondrous white flower on our back deck that I cannot name and will never forget.

Did I say about Bern and Mimi and Josh and Cathy and me with those babies? I think I did.

And the one with Josh and me on the deck, laughing. And Bern asleep in our bed with Luke and Sadie asleep with her? And me holding Bela (who now weighs 50 pounds) in one hand in our back yard when he first came to live with us? And those babies--now 9, going on 10.

I've left some out--like one I didn't take of Mimi waving to the camera and pointing to Sydney, Australia in the distance when she was there.

I sit and watch them scroll through--memories from almost a decade ago that are a part of me each day as I watch them.

Lovely, they are. Some bring me near tears of joy. What a wonder to see (and relive) a Life long past and to know it again.

How blessed I am by my photos.

Did I mention the one with Luke in my suitcase, waiting to go somewhere? I printed it out for Bern after Luke died. Luke has 'moved on', just as he was waiting to do in that photo.

I watch them over and again. They give me great joy and great thankfulness for the life I have had and the life I have.

Blessed, that's me....

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

apple butter and hot tea

I was a sickly child. That may be hard for people who know me now to believe! But I was a scrawny little kid until I hit 7th grade--then I grew, in two years, to my current height. (Or, probably an inch taller than I am now--I'm the shrinking old man of your nightmares.

Anyway, being sickly, I had to take medicine (mostly what we called 'sulfur drug' though Lord knows what that was or if it's even used anymore). I have always had a hair-trigger gag reflex, so swallowing pills--then and now--was difficult.

My mother's solution was apple butter. She would get a spoonful of apple butter and put the pill in it and I could swallow it. ("A spoonful of apple butter" {not 'sugar'} "makes the medicine go down.")

Over time, unsurprisingly, I developed an aversion to apple butter since I associated it with being sick.

Recently I've started taking an over the counter joint medicine which says "do not chew" on it. I usually chew pills up to swallow them, except for capsules, for some reason I can swallow anything that is a capsule.

So, I went to the store and bought--you guessed it--apple butter. And it works great. My aversion is gone. I don't put it on toast yet but might someday.

Which brings me to hot tea. I drink cold tea every day but haven't had a cup of tea for decades.

Part of my sickliness was asthma. My grandmother knew hot tea was good for wheezing since my grandfather had terrible asthma. Truth is, I learned much later, tea (real tea, not these flavored things masquerading as 'tea') has aminopolin in it--which is a natural bronchial dilator. So, as in so many ways, Mammaw Jones was right! But I soon got sick of tea because it actually made me feel sick when I drank it.

But my aversion to hot tea has remained. I can barely sit at a table where someone else is drinking it! I must try it soon. If I like it, I will regret shunning it for 50+ years.

If apple butter is ok now, what about hot tea?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Such a joyous time....

A week ago, on Shrove Tuesday no less, Nathan Ives was ordained a priest in God's church by Bishop Laura Aherns at Emmanuel Church in Killingworth.

Nathan has been working as a deacon in the three church cluster I serve and now will take over one of the other two presbyter roles, rotating around with Bryan Spinks and me.

I don't know how many ordinations I've attended (not as many as some priests who see attendance as 'showing the colors'...I just go to the ordinations of people I really care about) but Nathan's was one of the best!

Laura was great--relaxed and humorous--which set the tone for the whole thing.

John Burton was the preacher. I normally drift off during ordination sermons (unless I'm preaching!) but John's was really good. Years ago, when John was new, he came to Waterbury and helped a group of volunteers build a huge labyrinth in St. John's Close. He was a good leader and shunned using any measuring instrument besides string he had cut to map the contours. I was amazed at that, at first thinking a tape measure wouldn't be a bad idea! But in the end, John's way was the best way.

Anyway, John and Nathan may be the only two priests in CT that own sheep. So the 'good shepherd' gospel from John's gospel was the reading. John did a funny but accurate comparison between being a shepherd (warts and all) and a priest (warts and all). It was totally unsentimental, which is what makes me drift away during ordination sermons--the sentimentality of it all.

Priesthood is, it seems to me, one of the last callings that requires 'being' more than 'doing'. And 'being' is simply that--just being who you are in whatever comes up. John's sermon illustrated that.

A good crowd on a snow covered evening. And a good party afterwards.

Folks in the Cluster know how to celebrate--whether liturgically or gastronomically!

(I once told Michael Spencer, in my ordination sermon for him, to never forget that he was 'an almost irrelevant functionary of a nearly irrelevant institution'. And I meant it though it made the bishop who ordained him furious with me. Christendom is over--the Church isn't the norm for society and hasn't been for decades (we're always the last to know!)--it is time to truly lean into and 'be' on the edges of people's hearts and longings and love and doubts. I think Nathan will fit in well with that job description....)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Last of the cold?

It's 10:43 p.m. I just took the dog out to pee. It's 10 below zero on our back porch.

Tomorrow afternoon, it's suppose to rise to freezing (32 degrees). It will feel like spring!

Today, coming home from church, I was driving through Hamden and saw two Quinnipiac University students walking through calf deep snow with short sleeve tee shirts on. It was, then, about 8 degrees above zero. 

I can only hope they had been drinking heavily to protect them from the cold. But it was just past noon, so I hope they started early!

The cold makes the social contract break down. People don't pick up after their dogs when its this cold. Covered from head to toe, people don't give greetings. Drivers seem a little crazier than they already are. College students go out in tee shirts.

I understand why alcoholism is prevalent in places like North and South Dakota and Maine and Minnesota.

The cold can drive even the most sober to drink.

Hopefully, those two young men in the snow with tee-shirts on had been driven to that.

Tomorrow will give a taste of sane temperatures. Then it starts getting better and better. In the 40's during the next week.

Heaven! Anything above 10 below seems sublime tonight.

Lent I sermon

Let me be clear--parts of this sermon are more than a decade old. The wonderful poem by Anne Sexton that is quoted (finally, if you put the pieces together, in its entirety) was the impetus for the sermon as far back as 2001. I fiddled with it to preach it again today. I like it a lot. It teaches me the wisdom of Lent.

LENT I 2/14/16

          I walked for many days,
          Past witches that eat grandmothers knitting booties
          As if they were collecting a debt.
          Then, in the middle of the desert, I found the well….

          In the first Century, the Judean Wilderness was called Je-SHIM-mon, which means, literally, ‘The Devastation.’  The wilderness of Judea is an area 35 miles by  25 miles—almost 1000 square miles of devastation. From Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, the desert drops down 1200 feet to the lowest point on the face of the earth.
          The Judean desert is one of the most rocky, empty, inhospitable places you could imagine. It looks more like the Moon than it looks like Connecticut. There is an otherworldliness to that place. The heat of the arid afternoon is brutal, but not surprising—what is surprising is how cold it gets when the sun falls out of the sky like a ball rolling off a table.
          And though rain seldom falls in that place, when rain comes it comes in cloudbursts that flood the wadii’s with such force that human beings can be knocked to the ground and drowned in the desert.   
          I walked for many days,
          Past witches that eat grandmothers knitting booties
          As if they were collecting a debt.
          Then, in the middle of the desert, I found the well….

          According to Matthew’s gospel, after Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit led him into the Devastation—into the Judean wilderness—to be tempted by the devil.
          Matthew does not refer to Satan as “the Evil One” or “the Enemy”: instead, he calls him ‘o di-ab-oy-os, which means the slanderer…the one who tells lies.  Jesus’ “temptation” is the challenge of slander, of lies, of the “un-true.”
          In English, we tend to think of temptation as something “drawing us into sin or evil.”  But the Greek word is peir-a-zein, which is more akin to “testing” or “trying.”  Peir-a-zein does not refer to a purely negative action. “To be tested” contains the possibility of learning and growing…the chance of finding unknown strength.
          Then, in the middle of the desert, I found the well.
          It bubbled up and down like a litter of cats
          And there was water, and I drank,
          And there was water, and I drank.

          In the midst of the devastation of the desert, The Slanderer tempted Jesus with three lies.
          The first lie was this: personal longings and needs are more important than patience and endurance.
          Jesus was hungry and the devil dared him to turn stones into bread. But Jesus knew it was a lie and grew stronger.
          The second lie was this: quick results and instant success are better than wrestling with reality.
          To leap from the Temple and be unharmed would cause the Jews to acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah. Jesus knew it was a lie and learned wisdom.
          The third lie was the most seductive of all: Power and Control will win hearts.
          To worship Satan and rule the world would have let Jesus “control” the people of the world. Jesus knew it was a lie and learned faithfulness and powerlessness.
          Then, in the middle of the desert, I found the well.
          It bubbled up and down like a litter of cats
          And there was water, and I drank.
          And there was water, and I drank.
          Then the well spoke to me…..

          Jesus’ time in the Wilderness is a metaphor for our own journey, our own “testing” and trial and temptation.
          The desert, the Wilderness, the Devastation—it is not ‘OUT THERE” anywhere.  We are not called by Lent into a place “out there….”
          The desert of Lent is a metaphor for the inner journey we are called to make—the wilderness places of our soul we are called to visit and be tested by and drink from.  And the Wilderness is where the Well of God can be found.
          The Light dwells beyond our inner darkness. Life and Hope can only be discovered if we will walk in the Shadow of Death and Hopelessness. There are no short-cuts, no easy ways, no simple answers.
          The Slanderer within us whispers lies. And the way to Truth is through un-Truth.  The Well of God, the Water of Life is in the desert places of our hearts.
          Lent calls us—as individuals and as a community—to self-reflection and prayer. That way is the Wilderness Way. And it is the only Way to Freedom and Life.
          There is no Holy Week without Lent. There is not Easter without Good Friday.
          We live too much on the surface of things. Lent calls us down deep—down into the unconscious life, into the bone and the marrow of life, into the deepest Darkness where the light will truly Shine, into the driest desert where the Well of God bubbles “up and down like a litter of cats….” Where there is water and where the Well speaks to us.
          Then the well spoke to me.
          It said: Abundance is scooped from abundance,
          Yet abundance remains.
          Then I knew.

          Abundance is scooped from abundance, yet abundance remains.
          In the desert of Lent, we will know….we will know…..

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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.