Sunday, June 2, 2019

Ascension

Last Thursday was the Feast of the Ascension. I talked about it in my sermon today.

The world view of the 1st century is difficult for us to understand. Heaven was 'up there', the flat earth was 'down here' and hell was 'down there.'  A three tiered universe.

We know better. 'Up there' is the vast expanse of interstellar space. We live on a round planet circling the sun. And 'down there' is hot lava at the center of the earth and dirt and rock and water on the way down.

But I do think 'ascension' has something to teach us.

We can 'rise above' the madness and pain and confusion of the world.

And our ascension depends on our love.

Fear is the great divider--what is at work in our world today, pitting people against people who are 'different'.

Love is the great unite-er, letting us recognize that 'the other' is just like us. That all people are children of God no matter what their race or religion or place of origin.

We are all One.

We need to rise above the fray and know that and live that out.

Only that love--from God to us to others--will bring sanity and peace and unity.

Love, beloved.

Love.

Just that. Nothing else.

Ascend with me.....


Saturday, June 1, 2019

OMG NOT A LIE FROM REPUBLICANS?

Oh, so the reason, we were told, for adding a Citizenship question to the 2020 census was to make sure voters of color were accurately counted.

That's what the administration has argued in court.

Now, recently deceased Thomas Hoefeller, Republican expert on gerrymandering's hard drive landed in the hands of his estranged daughter and she found a document that said, unequivocally, that a citizenship question would work to the advantage of Republican lawmakers by reducing answers from minority groups!

The President's lawyer's said that they had no knowledge of Hoefeller's work, but lawyers opposing the question pointed out that a written document sent to the Supreme Court directly quoted Hoefeller's recommendation in his writings of how to best phrase the desire for the citizenship question to make it palatable to the courts!

The GOP telling a lie--I'm aghast!

And being very satirical.

Half of what we hear from the Republicans all over these days (like 'loving life' while taking away women's rights and not funding poverty and education projects for those who get born) and more than half of what The President WWNBNed says are lies.

I'm not shocked at all. Something is rotten, not in Denmark, but in the Republican Party.

And rot must be rooted out.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

New England Spring

It has been rainy and cool. We usually have air conditioning by now--it's almost June. But I just took the dog out and the temperature on the back porch is 44 degrees.

Our yards have responded to all the rain by being glorious.

We have 4 rhododendron trees and all have larger blossoms than I've ever seen. (We didn't plant them, but they are the state flower of West Virginia, by the way.) And the purple irises, dozens and dozens of them, are in their glory in the front.

The ferns and ground cover in the side yard are wondrous.

Florida is in the worst heat wave in May history.

The mid-west is full of water and more tornadoes than ever.

I said, joking, to some friends, that nature was punishing the Red states.

They agreed.

I'll take 44 and rain any day over 100 degrees and floods and tornadoes.

And not having to turn on the air conditioning is a blessing.

New England is the place to be.


my father was a Republican

A rural farmer until he left home for the coalfields. A member of John L. Lewis' United Mine Workers Union--yet unmistakably (and, inexplicably), my father was a Republican.

Yet, if he came back from what some people (not me) call "a better place", he wouldn't recognize the Republican Party of his life-time.

Today was a "he said/they said" day.

Robert Mueller, what a surprise to hear his voice, said clearly and beyond contradiction, that his report 'could not' indite a sitting president and 'could not' say that president did not commit a crime!

Clear to me. There was evidence but Mueller, because of the rules as he understood them, could not accuse the president of criminal behavior for which their was evidence.

That was clear as day.

And then the president tweeted--he seldom 'speaks' except to contradict allies, as he did in Japan about North Korea--'case closed'.

And Rudy, of course, joined in.

And no Republicans, except the guy from Michigan, had the guts to object and say, 'hey, the Special Council is leaving this up to us in Congress to dig deeper....'

My father's Republican party, if nothing else, had guts.

They weren't always right, but they stood up for what they thought was right.

He wouldn't know who these people are. My father would be flabbergasted and horrified.

He might even have voted for a Democrat.

At least I hope he would have.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Memorial Day

We had a great day--our friends: John and Jack and Sherry and their son, Robbie came for an early dinner.

We had grilled vegetables and green beans and potatoes and wondrous steak from the grill. Wine for Jack, Robbie and me. A torte, watermelon and cheesecake. Both Bern and I forgot to put out the salad I made so we're having Salad tonight as a main course.

These are long time friends. John from college, Jack and Sherry and Robbie from when we first came to CT. Robbie grew up with Josh and Mimi--he's the oldest of the three.

Jack is a Navy Veteran, so it was he who we honored yesterday.

Never mind that his two postings were Alaska and Cyprus! He's a veteran never the less.

A good time with good friends and lovely weather and fine food and drink.

What is better than that?


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Longing for peace

And I don't mean "vs. War", though I long for all our troops to be out of conflicts as well.

What I mean is Peace like in relaxation, calmness, lack of anxiety, trust.

What I mean is I long for a different President and a different political place to be.

I long for Twitter to be closed down--I don't want to know what he's thinking at 5 a.m, or ever.

I long for ugly nick-names to be outlawed. "Sleepy Joe" is ridiculous. Biden is one of the more animated people I see. Calling the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana (whose name I haven't quite managed to spell) "Alfred E. Newman" is more an insult to the President than to Mayor Pete.

I long for 'lies' to be called 'lies' again and not ignored and supported by Fox News.

Face it, I long for 'no-drama Obama' or even the second George Bush.

I just want to be a proud American and not be assaulted by non-sense day after day and worry if John Bolton is going to take us into another long, unwinnable war.

I want to be part of the world-wide-economy and not be in trade wars that hurt us.

I want people to quit complaining about how Game of Thrones ended. I liked the ending, thank you.

I want a Memorial Day dinner with my friends without any of us fretting about the future of the land we love.

Peace and quiet and common sense. That's what I want.

It doesn't seem outrageous to want that.

Peace and quiet and common sense.

Just that.



Friday, May 24, 2019

Nancy vs. HWWNBNed

The administration released a video on the President's and stupid Rudy's twitter feeds that had been altered to make it appear Nancy Pelosi couldn't say two sentences in a row. Rudy kind of apologized but not the President.

(Note: I capitalize President because I respect the office, not the current office holder!)

The battle between the Speaker of the House and the President is epic.

Walking out of a meeting about infrastructure after three minutes. Calling for an 'intervention' by the President's staff and family. Questioning each others' mental health. Saying the President is involved in a 'cover up' right before meeting with him (which he is, by the by).

It's Ali vs. Liston.

What a battle.

 But I think Nancy is getting the better of it all.

I read an article in The Atlantic today about how the President has his fingers in one of those finger traps we used to get. The harder you pull, the more stuck your fingers are. You have to be cautious, slow and deliberate to get your fingers out.

No one has ever said the President is cautious, slow or deliberate.

Go, Nancy!!!

Go, Nancy!!!!


Thursday, May 23, 2019

last possible graduation address

Billionaire investor, Robert Smith, said, in a graduation address at historically black Morehouse College that he and his family will pay off over $40 million dollars in student debt for the 400 graduates.

How does anyone agree to make a graduation address after that?

What could you do to top it?

Pay their rent for 5 years? Buy them a house? Send them on a world tour?

Lordy, Robert Smith, what you did will having colleges asking people like me to make the graduation address--or some guy who sweeps the floors or someone who works in the student cafeteria. 

Graduation addresses are now a thing of the past.

Good for you Robert Smith.

Bad for graduation addresses.


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

It's called "the Constitution"

Our President, Who Will Not Be Named, doesn't seem to understand what the Constitution is.

He doesn't get that there are three co-equal branches of government and that "co-equal" means what it means.

Congress has the obligation to 'oversee' the executive branch, yet this President is doing all he can to prevent that--withholding legally asked for tax returns, ignoring subpoenas for documents, telling people not to testify to congress.

It is an absolute outrage.

I'm not at impeachment yet--the information that would lead there is what the President is refusing to share.

So that means time and courts and I am tired of waiting.

Not since Nixon has any President played so fast and loose with the rules and laws and constitutional guarantees that make our democracy work.

I feel like I'm caught up in a bad dream and that all I believe in and support is being eroded by Mr. WWNBNed.

Can we survive another two years of this????

I'm not sure....


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Not with a bang, but with a whisper.....

So it's over.

Eight years of my life watching "Game of Thrones" and it ended tonight.

And not with a bang but with a whisper.

The TV series is over two years beyond the books I read years ago, so I had no idea how it would end.

And could have never guessed.

Never.

But it was all good--my favorite 5 characters lived on--as they should have. And all ended up as they should have.

But I never saw it coming.

Remarkable. Eight years well spent.

And sorrow that it's over even though the whisper it ended with was good and right and satisfying.

What now to do on Sunday night???


Saturday, May 18, 2019

one brief day

Yesterday, because they beat them 4-3 with three runs in the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees moved ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays into first place in the American League East by 0.5 games.

Today, the Rays won in the 11th inning and are now in first by 0.5 games.

But that sweet day belonged to the Yankees.

I'm a life long Yankees fan, one of few from southern West Virginia, I'm sure.

But my dad was and so I was.

I know I've written it here, but I'll tell it again briefly: Dad was in NYC about to ship out to Europe for WW II and got a ticket from a patriot to a Dodgers/Yankees World Series game. He decided whichever team won would be 'his team' and he Yankees won.

My childhood was taken up with Mantle and Maris and Yogi and Richardson and Kubek  and Elston Howard and Whitey Ford...on and on.

Being a Yankees fan has, for most of my life, has been a good deal.

During my childhood, the sports cast from Channel 6 in Bluefield at 11 p.m. began--in the summer--with "Let's see who the Yankees clobbered!"

The Yankees are so close to the lead and they have, count them--5 starters and their biggest stars out with injuries.

When they all get back, let's see who the Yankees clobber.....


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Stuff grows out of S***

There's this little space of yard beside our deck where Bern has been dumping dead leaves and I've been throwing corn husks for the nearly 30 years we've lived here.

And stuff is growing there--flowers, ferns, plants. Lots and lots of stuff growing out of rotten leaves and corn husks.

The rest of our yards are full of life--but so is that rotten, dead, sh***y place.

Life is stronger than death. Life grows from death.

Which means (if I'm allowed to Hope in this dark time of our President Who-Will-Not-Be-Named) we may bloom again after so many attacks on immigration, equality of race and gender, climate change, green energy, the power of Congress, Truth, Justice and the American Way.

Stuff grows out of S***.

Maybe there is reason to hope, to dream, to imagine a future where my grand-daughters will flourish.

I pray it might be so.

I pray with all my heart and soul and mind.

Then I go over to the edge of the deck and watch life emerging so vibrantly from death.

Hope, Beloved, Hope!


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

OMG, Jerry Falwell and I agree!!!

Well, we agree but for different reasons.

I am horrified by the Alabama anti-abortion law because it limits the choice of women about who controls their bodies--them or the government.

Jerry opposes it because he thinks it is so 'extreme' that the Supreme Court won't overturn Roe v. Wade because they won't find the Alabama law constitutional.

But it is truly amazing for Jerry Falwell and I to be on the same side of anything!

Are you getting the picture now?

Several states passing anti-abortion laws (including, amazing to me, Ohio).

The rise in hate crimes against Jews and Muslims and Blacks and Latinos.

The total lack of empathy for those wanting to come to this country for a better life and to escape danger in their home countries. (Take down the Statue of Liberty, she must be ashamed....)

The President and his people refusing to accept the Constitutionally given power of 'oversight' of the Congress.

I feel like the 1950's are coming back--minus the good TV shows.

And what does all this have to do with?

The person in the Oval Office, that's what.l

The demonizing of the press. The normalizing of lies. The monarchical attitude of the President. The embracing of authoritarian leaders around the world (North Korea, Russia, Egypt, the Philippines, Hungary). The challenges of our own intelligence agencies. The trade wars and rumors of wars our allies don't think should happen. The ending of treaties and agreement. The denials of Climate Change.

I could go on, but why bother.

We are in grave times, beloved.

We need to get our backbones back and act.

All this must stop or our democracy is in danger.

Really.

Really!


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Come on, Mike!

The Vice President, Mike Pence, gave the commencement at Liberty University (founded by Jerry Falwell) and told the graduates to 'prepare to be shunned' for being Christians.

Mike, like most of the graduates, is an Evangelical Christian. Most Evangelicals (though not all, I hasten to add) think that they are 'right' and anyone who disagrees with them is 'wrong'.

They won't be 'shunned'--they will be disagreed with.

Even the Episcopal Church has evangelicals (I don't capitalize it to make a distinction--they are evangelicals who are Episcopalians, not Evangelicals).

One of them came up to me at the all day meeting on Safe Church I mentioned (disparagingly) in my last post. He said, "I want to tell you something I should have told you long ago. Once you and I were in a long discussion in which we disagreed. But you told me, 'I want to understand where you're coming from even though I'm not going to agree with you." He went on to say, "that meant so very much to me: that you wanted to 'understand' me. That meant more to me than your 'agreeing' with me."

I honestly don't remember any details of that years ago conversation, but that sounds like what I would have said.

I am a Christian, for goodness sake. I am a priest in a Christian church. And I am about the polar opposite of an evangelical. I wear a button I've mentioned before that says 'Heretic'. And I am. I saw Bishop Curry, who gave me the button with great glee in Columbus. Ohio, and showed it to him. He said, "I hope you still are."

"No worry there, Bishop," I said.

I wish I could address the graduates at Liberty.

I'd say, in part, "We're all Christians here--me and you. But my view is not your view and your beliefs are not my beliefs. But we should understand each other and know where each of us is coming from and agree to disagree in peace."

I heard a clip on the radio from "The Good Place"--a TV comedy about the afterlife--today in an interview with the great theologian Elaine Pagels.

In the clip, a character who lived a really dissolute life, can't figure out why she's in the Good Place. She has a conversation with a heavenly being named Michael (the archangel???) and asks him, "so, who got it right?"

"The Hindus and Muslims," Michael replies, "got some of it right. As did the Christians and Jews and Buddhists and all other religions. They all got some of it right."

Well, that's where I am. All of us get 'some of it right', but none of us get all of it right.

So, if others don't admit you got it 'all right' is being 'shunned', then the Vice President was right down at Liberty University.


Monday, May 13, 2019

Tomorrow

Tomorrow I'm going to spend from 9 to 4 in Thomaston at 'Safe Church Training'.

Priests in this Diocese have to do it every 3 years or get defrocked. I'm not kidding! And if you are 'defrocked', you are (excuse the dark humor) 'frocked up'!. You can't serve as a priest.

That is, by the way, the only reason I'm going.

My friend, who is taking me, called and said, "Jim, are you going to this totally useless day in Thomaston? If so, I'll pick you up at 8."

I didn't name my friend in case anyone in the Diocesan hierarchy reads this, which I doubt. I don't care if they know what I think and say and write.

Here's the deal, as I see it: 'Safe Church Training' is more about safety for the insurance company than for the members of the churches.

If the Diocese can point to triennial proof that they told you not to do this and that which is wrong, the insurance company doesn't have to pay damages when some priest does 'this or that which is wrong'.

The training is boring and rote and never interesting or new.

Maybe tomorrow will be exciting and novel and new.

Probably not.

I'm a cynic about it all.

Most priests are not going to do something they shouldn't do. And day every three years is not going to prevent someone who is a sexual abuser from abusing.

But it will save the church from having to pay the victim.

I'd rather we did something that helped the victims of clergy abuse.

That's what I wish.

But I want to stay 'frocked'. so I'll be there.


Sunday, May 12, 2019

Going to be hard to sleep tonight

If you don't watch Game of Thrones you could do well to stop reading now.

If you do watch it, I'm sure you'll agree that it's going to be hard to sleep tonight after the penultimate episode.

I didn't think they could outdo last week--a battle at night--but then did. The King's Landing troops surrendered but Danny and her dragon destroyed the city any way.

It was amazing.

Danarius can't be Queen now. All her allies will be against her for the senseless deaths and destruction.

What will happen is beyond my imagination. Really.

One more week.

Lordy, lordy, I never thought I'd be glad it ended. But now I will be.

The carnage of the last two weeks is all I can bear.



Thursday, May 9, 2019

what do pro-life ("Anti-Abortion") folks think?

With the anti-abortion legislation in Georgia and Alabama and other states moving forward, it makes me wonder what Anti-Abortion folks think of me.

I think abortion is hideous and horrible.

But I also think that I have no right to tell a woman what to do with her body--no right at all.

I am against abortion but in favor of a woman's choice to make her own decisions and live with them.

I wonder if pro-life folks think I was fetuses to be removed from women's bodies.

I don't--but I strongly believe women have the right to decide for themselves what they want to do with their bodies.

The Georgia legislation, which is now signed by the governor and will become law in January of 2020--though lots of court cases remain to be heard--assigns 'person-hood' to fetuses. Which raises lots of questions, like can a pregnant woman be put in jail since her fetus has done no wrong and can a woman who uses alcohol or tobacco or drugs be stopped because her fetus didn't make that decision (but that would mean putting her in jail, which goes back to the first question).

I wish men had babies, just to see whether people would be as anxious to take away the right of the bodies of men as they are to take away the rights of the bodies of women.

I would bet not.

All this anti-abortion stuff is just another symptom of the anti-freedom tone of the presidency of He Who Will Not Be Named.

We're in real trouble in this land of the brave and home of the free. Real trouble. I hope Congress can hold the dam against the rising anti-democracy waves.


clergy

I had lunch today with 6 clergy from the Higganum area.

I like several of them very much--but I have trouble with them gathered around a table in a not-too-good restaurant.

Will Rogers said of Methodist clergy (I think it was) that they "were like manure. Spread out they did a lot of good, but all in one place, they tend to stink."

I just don't like being around a lot of ordained people. The one exception is my Tuesday morning group--but I know all those folks well and there are usually lay folks there as well. That makes it palatable.

Next Tuesday I have to go to an all-day "Safe Church Training" with other Episcopal priests. The training is required every 3 years. It is about making the Diocese 'safe' from law suits rather than making congregations 'safe'.

Having given your clergy 'training', if they do something wrong of a sexual nature, the diocese can say, "Hey, we told them not to!" and the victim can't sue the larger church.

If you don't go you can be 'defrocked'--your priestly standing taken away.

When means if you do go you are still "frocked"--which is a good way to describe being ordained.

I'm already dreading it.

For one thing most of the people there will wear clerical collars--even though everyone knows if you're there you must be clergy.

I haven't worn a collar for like 12 or more years. I know I'm a priest, why do I have to wear a collar and blare it out to the world?

For another thing, we'll spend the day trying to impress each other. Tiresome.


Manure is a good metaphor for clergy.


Monday, May 6, 2019

"Poliqticcal correctness" unveiled

I'm a left-wing, progressive nut,. right?

So, I'm really 'into' political correctness.

No racist, anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-immigrant, anti-feminist remarks--right?

But political correctness has been embraced by the right now--it's all about Israel.

Say something about Israel (the country) and you are an anti-Semite (the Jewish people).

The Muslim woman in the House got caught in it.

Criticizing a country who keeps millions of Palestinians in what could be considered servitude and second-class citizen status, a country that won't agree to a two state solution, a country whose head of state is even deeper in controversy than our own--criticize that country and people call you a hater of Jews.

I criticize any number of countries--Russia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela==and I'm not a hater or Russians or Asians or Muslims or Hispanics--I just don't agree with what the leaders of those countries are up to.

But there are those who have co-opted 'political correctness' for their ends that make any criticism of Israel (the country) as being anti-Semitic.

No wonder some white folks don't like 'political correctness'--it stings when it gets applied to you for opposing the policies of a country and not a criticism of a religion.

Odd how that works on the 'other side'.


Sunday, May 5, 2019

There may have been

There may have been a rainier spring in Connecticut, but after living here for 33 years, I don't remember one.

It has rained almost every day of April and now May here. It has rained all day today--all day!

Really.

It's raining hard now at almost 11 p.m.

Very wet.

Very wet.

Has been all Spring.

April showers and all that....

Rain.

Better than the option of drought.



Saturday, May 4, 2019

you, too, Dorothy, RIP

Two funerals in two days--unusual since I left St. John's (I once remember counting and finding I had done over 600 funerals there!).

Ann I knew well. Dorothy, I had never met.

Ann was 65 and Dorothy 89.

And after I heard one of Dorothy's daughters and three grown grand-children speak, I wished I had known her.

She and some relatives had been country and gospel singers back in the day and had a radio show on a local station. And she was a farmer--and a good one. And a lovely, gentle, humorous woman from all I heard of her today. And someone who, with help, had stayed in her home until the end.

Her granddaughter played the guitar for the hymns, which had been reproduced in Dorothy's handwritten words!

Lovely and loving people.

Sometimes, one of the things we can take from a funeral is that life is still and over for one we love. No more pain.

That's obviously not enough to make up for their loss in your life--but it is something.


Friday, May 3, 2019

Oh, Ann, Rest in Peace

Today I presided at Ann's funeral.

Her brother and her son both gave eloquent and heart-felt eulogies. I told her son afterwards that  I've heard lots of tributes and his was in the top three. He began with this great line: "How can I put 65 years of my mother's life in this short, 90 minute speech."

Humor is a great tribute in a funeral eulogy. Humor gives honor to the dead and to the living.

Communion was a big problem since we were in the parish hall--the church is too small--and people were standing 4 wide and 20 deep in the center aisle.

So we gave them communion right after the family and sent them to the upper hall until the others could receive.

I said of Ann that she was a 'dear soul' and a 'fighter'. Her soul was deep and wide and her son captured that in his remarks. And she fought cancer three times before losing the fight.

I saw her the day of the night she died and though she was pretty full of morphine, when I said, "Ann, it's Jim Bradley", she opened her eyes for a moment and smiled.

There were all these pictures on boards--as most funerals these days have--and she was smiling in every single picture.

A dear soul and a fighter--can't get much better than that.

I always quote St. Francis of Assisi in a funeral homily: "Death is not a door that closes, it is a door that opens and we walk in, all new, to the presence of the one who loves us best of all."

Death, to us, certainly is a closed door. I'll never see Ann's smile again. But I pray for Ann it was that door that opened....

Oh, dear soul Ann, rest in peace, and be 'all new'.


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Barr's testimony

Did you watch any of it?

It was cringe-worthy and painful and revealing.

Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Whitehouse and Kamala Harris, in that order, made Barr fumble and fib. Harris tied him in knots and he couldn't really answer her questions.

But the highlight came when Mazie Hirono, Senator from Hawaii, lectured him.

She called him everything but 'middle-aged white man'. Equated him with Rudi Guiliani and Kelly Ann Conway and accused him (correctly!!!) of lying to Congress.

Days after he received a letter from Robert Mueller himself, criticizing Barr's four page memo that essentially 'exonerated' the President, Barr told a Congressional committee he had 'no idea' what Mueller thought of his memo!

Sen. Hirono then told Barr to resign and Linsey Graham chided her for 'slandering' Barr.

Like telling the truth is 'slandering'.

No one knew until yesterday about Mueller's complaining letter which said Barr had 'misrepresented' the report in his memo, giving the President over two weeks to brag that there was nothing damning in the Mueller report.

Probably not, unless you consider the 10 instances of obstructing justice that Mueller enumerated and did not indict because, as it said in the report, there is a standing opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted. But his report said clearly and in no uncertain terms that Mueller DID NOT 'exonerate' the President from obstruction of justice.

Another weird day in a weird and painful two years of this presidency.


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Alas and alack...

So, I went to my Tuesday morning group primed to talk about Game of Thrones and none of the people there had ever watched it!

I was shocked--I thought the only thing more people were talking about than what an despicable idiot our President is, would be Game of Thrones. I talk to people in the grocery store and filling up our cars with gas about the show. But none of these people I care deeply about have ever watched it!

I took a deep breath and decided, instead, to talk about how all the Yankee stars are on the injured reserve list and they are still only 2 games out of first.

Then I checked their faces and realized that people who didn't watch GofT wouldn't follow baseball either.

It was great because I usually think I'm out of the 'mainstream', but maybe not as far as I thought....

"Go Yankees!!!!"

"Go Dragons!!!!"


Sunday, April 28, 2019

OK, here's the Truth

Whether or not you read the books and whether or not you've only 'been aware' of The Game of Thrones TV series or fanatics about it like Bern and I. you should go to HBO on demand, if you have it, and watch Sunday night's episode.

It is beyond words.

And I may watch it again to count the 'words' spoken in over an hour.

It was pure battle from beginning to end.

All the blood and death and terror of all that came before was overwhelmed by this episode.

I won't even begin to try to write about it.

It is beyond words.

It must be experienced to comprehend.

Please check it out and let me know what you thought.

It was all the wars ever fought condensed into just over an hour.

Amazing. Terrifying. Astonishing.

Beyond words.



Saturday, April 27, 2019

A poem I've never shared



The Poem I Can’t Write

For days now I’ve been trying
to write a poem that just won’t come.
It’s for our anniversary and about my love,
so it should flow out without any effort,
since I love you so very much.

But the poem is hiding from me,
peeking at me from around the corner,
avoiding me at all cost, it seems.
Page after page I throw away
(or, more accurately, erase from my computer).

Forty-six years of marriage (and years before that)
of loving you—the words should pour out,
full of passion and wonder and amazement.

This time I realized something,
my love for you isn’t something ‘out there’,
that I can examine, reflect on, put into words.
That love is in those letters in the attic.
That love has altered, changed, become incarnate.

The love I feel for you is, quite simply, me.
I am my love for you. It is my very ‘being’
That cannot be captured and enclosed in words.
That is ‘who I am’. So, I am your poem.
This poem is ‘me’, my very being, the “I” I call myself.
I am yours. Your anniversary poem….

September 5, 2016

A poem not many read from 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mimi's home

Which is always good. She is my love. I love Josh too, terribly much, but Mimi just slips into our lives and barely makes a wave and is so welcomed.

I probably did before, but I'll share again, a poem I wrote about her on her birthday when she was in Japan with the American Ballet Theater.



                          PHOTOS OF MIMI
The house is full of pictures of her.
In some of them, she is a tiny, chubby baby.
In others, she is a little girl possessed.
In one she gains speed, running
down a hill in front of my father's house,
her tongue out, her blonde hair flying,
her small arms churning
like the wind.
In another, taken the same day,
she is solemn, not looking at the camera,
considering something out of the frame,
unsmiling, gazing at the future, perhaps.
She grows through the pictures—though they are random
on the walls and shelves, so she doesn't grow evenly.
A beautiful, awkward teen, smiling in spite of braces,
her jeans decorated in ink, a hole at the knees,
her shoes half-tied, embarrassed, I think, by the camera.
There is a sagging Jack-O-Lantern at her side,
smiling a smile as crooked as her own.
A whole group pictures when she was finishing
high school—a lovely, wistful, long-haired girl
exploding gracefully into life and what comes next.
I love the photo from her college graduation,
the four of us, this little family, her brother posing,
Mimi—short-hair and sun-glasses—smiling.
Just the four of us, a tiny clan, so different and distinct,
frozen in time on a mountain in Vermont, timeless, eternal.
I walked around the house today, looking for her visage--
bride's maid at Josh's wedding, clowning in a hotel doorway,
holding one niece or another with her boyfriend
(she natural, laughing, Morgan content on her lap,
Tim is a bit anxious and Emma is pulling away from him),
sitting on our back deck at an age I can't remember
when her hair was a color not found in nature,
and she is, as always glancing away from the camera,
playing on the beach as a toddler, sandy, nude,
hands in the sand, staring backward through her legs
(a photo a camera shy person would hate later on!)
I made my circuit, stopping before each photograph,
amazed at the memories that leaped out of the frames
and enthralled me.
Amazed more that such a beautiful child and woman
could have lived with me so long
and left imprints on my heart so deep.
She is half-a-world away.
In a land I can only faintly imagine.
I will not talk with her today—her nativity day.
I cannot even remember, as I gaze at photos,
if it is today or tomorrow in Japan.
Or yesterday.
Then there is the photo I love most.
It is pinned to the cork board beside my desk,
where I sit and write.
She is framed in a glass doorway. Her hair is long.
I can't remember how old she way—in college, perhaps--
and beyond the door you see, fully lit, dunes of Nantucket.
Mimi is in shadow, almost a silhouette cut from dark paper,
in full profile. Only the back of her hair is in sunlight,
shining, translucent, moving in the wind.
I love that picture because it is Mimi stepping through the
Door of Life, moving away from the infant shots,
the little girl, the teenaged child,
moving into life beyond me...half a world away.
All grown and still, all new....
jgb/July 21, 2008

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Finitude

(I've seldom posted something three times, but last night a dear, wondrous friend died and I've been pondering over finitude today. So here's something you might have read before.)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Finitude, again

I was sitting on our back porch pondering how I'm 70 years old and have no idea how this happened. Then I remembered a post about Finitude that nobody much read. Thought I'd share it again.And, about granddaughters, I have another one, only 8 months old. If I live to be 80, she'll still be a pre-teen....just an addendum to this more than 8 year ago blog post.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Finitude

For some reason I have been talking with people lately about 'what happens when you die."

Actually, I have no idea--not any, not one--about what happens when we die.

Since I'm a priest, I'm around death a lot and I'm not much help. People seem to assume I know what this whole 'hereafter' thing is all about. Imagine their surprise!

(A joke from years ago: A boy says to his date, "do you believe in the 'hereafter'?
Being a Christian girl she says, "of course I do." Then he says, "well, let's have sex." She is horrified. "Why would you ask that?" she says. He replies, "that's what I'm 'here after'.")

"Is Daddy/Mommy/Brother/Sister/Child/Husband/Wife...on and on...in a better place?" I've been asked more than once by the death bed after giving last rites and watching the person slip away through that unmarked door.

First I smile sadly. Usually that is enough. The one left behind bursts into tears and I hold them. But some are tougher--"Well?" they say. And I say, "I have no idea."

Once someone said to me, "Why are you a priest if you don't have some belief about the after-life?"

I resisted my first impulse to say, "I'm not a priest for the 'after-life', I'm a priest for the living and the dying." Instead I said, meaning it with all my being, "I simply leave 'what happens next' to God."

That's what I do. Oh, I do believe there is something after death--so long as you are willing to acknowledge that the 'something' might be 'nothing'. I would think no less of God if when life ends, it simply ends. Dead as a doornail--whatever a door-nail is.

As I grow older--I'm over 60 now (I never imagined being this old!)--I do ponder death more than when I was 22 or 37 or even 53. Even if I live to be 80 some, that's only 20 or so more Springs, more Christmases, more baseball seasons. My granddaughters will be in their 20's-when I shuffle off this mortal coil, if I'm lucky enough to be 80-something, and my children will be 50 or so, but there will be, as the song says, "a lotta things happening" after I'm dead and gone.

One thing I know, I hope there is an option to the streets of gold and angel wings for me. In fact, since I know (because I'm theologically educated) that noone ever suggested the dead become angels--angels are a whole other species of beings--I'm just worried about those streets of gold. Doesn't sound like good urban planning to me.

I wrote a poem about finitude a few years ago. I thought I'd share it here.

The Difficulty with Finitude

I try, from time to time,
usually late at night or after one too many glasses of wine,
to consider my mortality.

(I've been led to believe
that such consideration is valuable
in a spiritual way.
God knows where I got that....
Well, of course God knows,
I'm just not sure.)

But try as I might, I'm not adroit at such thoughts.
It seems to me that I have always been alive.
I don't remember not being alive.
I have no personal recollections
of when most of North America was covered with ice
or of the Bronze Age
or the French Revolution
or the Black Sox scandal.
But I do know about all that through things I've read
and musicals I've seen
and the History Channel.

I know intellectually that I've not always been alive,
but I don't know it, as they say, 'in my gut'.
(What a strange phrase that is
since I am sure my 'gut'
is a totally dark part of my body
awash with digestive fluids
and whatever remains of the chicken and peas
I had for dinner and strange compounds
moving inexorably--I hope--through my large
and small intestines.)

My problem is I have no emotional connection to finitude.
All I know and feel is tangled up with being alive.
Dwelling on the certainty of my own death
is beyond my ken, outside my imagination,
much like trying to imagine
the vast expanse of space
when I live in Connecticut.

So, whenever someone suggests that
I consider my mortality,
I screw up my face and breathe deeply
pretending I am imagining the world
without me alive in it.

What I'm actually doing is remembering
things I seldom remember--
my father's smell, an old lover's face,
the feel of sand beneath my feet,
the taste of watermelon,
the sound of thunder rolling toward me
from miles away.

Perhaps when I come to die
(perish the thought!)
there will be a moment, an instant,
some flash of knowledge
or a stunning realization:
"Ah", I will say to myself,
just before oblivian sets in,
"this is finitude...."


 

Cheshire is loud

People tend to think of Cheshire, where we live, as a peaceful, little, suburban town.

But Cheshire is loud, at least around here.

We live three lots from Rt. 10, the main road through Cheshire, between New Haven and I 691 which will take you to I 91 N and Hartford. So we get lots of sirens on Rt. 10. One was going by as I was typing the second sentence above.

But that's not the worse thing. The worse thing is lawns and drive ways.

Lawns and driveways are important on Cornwall Ave. So we have leaf blowers in the fall and spring, snow blowers in the winter and grass cutting blowers and lawn mowers in the late spring and summer.

All of which are loud.

I was out on the deck in April's 60 degree weather today and a neighbor across the street was having their lawn mowed and the grass cuttings blown away by a lawn care company. We don't have a 'lawn care company' except for Bern and her push mower.

It was so loud my tinnitus went silent and then I noticed the two young men doing it weren't wearing ear protectors. Later on they'll be lucky to hear tinnitus, must less anything else!

I like quiet, so all this motorized noise bothers me.

I'd rather hear the crickets of my tinnitus.

That's how loud it gets around here.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

memories are made of this

Since I have a degree from Harvard (M.T.S. 1971) I receive the University's magazine every two months.

The March/April magazine had a cover story about 1969 (my first semester there) and the student strikes over the Vietnam war.

In my two years in Cambridge, we completed only one of four semesters because of strikes that shut down the university. Those were, in my memory, a boy from the mountains of West Virginia, amazing!

Police in riot gear. Students in tee shirts with a red hand on the back, curled into a fist, and the black letters "STRIKE".

Harvard Square was like a variety show. Hippies, Hari Kristna  folks,  people in red and black robes acting out roles of the GOOD and the EVIL, teens looking for pot, homeless folks, students from the college, sight-seers and tourists, and the little dog belonging to the newspaper guy with paralyzed back legs tied on a skateboard.

Weird times, indeed.

I was at the Divinity School as my way of getting out of the draft. I won a Rockefeller "Trial year in Seminary" scholarship which, since I was in Divinity School and the Bishop of West Virginia made me a 'candidate for holy orders', gave me the last remaining draft deferment in 1969. They were drafting Law students, medical students and PH.D. students.

I've been reading the stuff undergrads at the time have written.

It was weird. Very weird.

Fond memories.

I like weird.


didn't write it down

(I didn't write down my Easter sermon this year. Talked mostly about Mary Magdalena but have waiting too long to try to remember what I said. So, here's an Easter sermon from 2007. OK?)



EASTER 2007

          We all know the story, right? We all came here today to hear it again.
          It’s not complicated, as stories go, There’s not a lot of sub-plot or irony or hidden meaning.
          Some women come to a graveyard and discover an empty tomb and a Being of Light tells them the One they came seeking, to anoint, as was the practice in their culture, is not dead but alive. And the women go, astonished and fearful, to tell the others in their community.
          “Alleluia, Christ is Risen. The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!”
          The end. That’s about it.
          So we can all go home and eat ham and deviled eggs and hot cross buns and lots of chocolate and be satisfied that Easter has come and gone one more time.
          The “story” is about Jesus—isn’t it? He died and God made him alive again. The preacher can stop there. Case closed. Time for summer and getting ready for Christmas….

          Unless, of course, the story is about US as well as Jesus—that would be another matter and require a little more talking.
          What if…just, ‘what if’, for the sake of argument, the story is about US as well as Jesus?
          What if…just to make my sermon a little longer, we all have a role—several roles—to play in the whole Drama?
          It starts with that rag-tag army that followed Jesus during his life—those folks ‘hoping for something better’, ‘imagining that life really meant something’, putting their bet on a dark horse itinerant preacher from Nazareth, leaning into his love?
          I don’t know about you, but I’ve often had that feeling welling up inside my heart—that feeling that there must be ‘something’…something bigger and more lovely and greater than the day-to-day grind of life. I’ve often longed for something grand and precious and holy. So I could have been one of those who followed him around, hanging on his words, marveling at his power and miracles, thinking this might just be the one to put my money on…Love.
          And in the last week of his life, they all left him, disappointed and estranged, feeling like they’d been conned, misguided, wrong.
          And I’ve felt that—I don’t know about you—but I’ve felt like I put my money on the wrong horse, that I’d been misguided and deceived, and all my hope has been dashed on the cruel realities of life, that Love conquers nothing.
          Then there is Peter, who denied him after promising to leave him never. When my hopes have been thwarted, I’ve denied having them at all—my momma didn’t raise any fools.
          And there is Pilate—who knew what was right but didn’t do ‘the right thing’ because of pressures from others. How often have I kept silent when my voice was called for? How often have I ‘held back’ when courage was needed? How often have I accepted a lie because I wasn’t brave enough to stand for the truth?
          Judas too—what if the story isn’t about Judas at all, but about ME, perhaps even YOU? I know I have ‘betrayed’ others for much less than 30 pieces of silver—and I have ‘betrayed’ myself over and again through my disappointments and fears and self-serving motives.

          But I am like the women—like Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James—as well. I have found it within myself to be ‘faithful’, to be ‘loyal’, to be ‘true’. I have gone to the graveyard out of love, in spite of my fears, because it was the right thing to do. I have carried the spices with me to anoint the deaths of my life—and you have too.
          And we have been surprised by Wonder in our lives—we have found Love and Life in Dead Places, we have met Being of Light, we have encountered Angels.
          Likewise, I have been like the Apostles, hiding behind locked doors, fearful and mournful, even as the power of Love came to me. And I have had to struggle with whether or not to ‘give up my life’ in order to ‘find Life in Abundance….’  I know that feeling and I bet you do to.
          I bet you know—if you are centered enough and open enough—I bet you know that part of you that is like the crowds—engaged and then disappointed—like Peter…denying…like Judas…betraying…like Pilate, not speaking out for truth…like the women, confounded by Joy…like the disciples, hidden but called out by Love to dance and sing and rejoice.
          So, Jesus is Risen and that can be enough for us this day.
          Or, we can find in this celebration, in this liturgy, in this story…the possibility of our own WHOLENESS, our own TRANSFORMATION, our own RESURRECTION to a life that welcomes all the ‘parts’ of each one of us—that welcomes each of us, just as we are, to something new and beautiful and unexpected and loving. Easter calls us from our tombs of longing and doubt and anxiety and cowardice and betrayal and denial into a ‘new life’ of WHOLENESS AND HOPE AND LOVE.
          My prayer for me and for you is this: that today we may make our song this and only this—ALLELUIA, WE ARE RISEN! WE ARE RISEN, INDEED! ALLELUIA!
          God’s Love can be the music of our song….
           

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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.