Saturday, May 30, 2020

Pentecost

(This is the sermon I gave last year, not tomorrow.)



PENTECOST 2019 St. Andrew’s Northford
          Fear always says “no”.
          If you’re going to remember anything I say this morning—remember this: FEAR ALWAYS SAYS “NO.”
          And remember this as well: GOD SAYS “YES” TO US….
                                      ****
          Jesus’ friends were gathered in the same room they’d been using to hide. How many were there isn’t clear. The book of Acts says 120—though that number may be high. They huddled together, still frightened that the Temple authorities might be after them, still grieving in some way—though they had seen the Risen Lord time and again, felt his breath upon their faces—and, most…most of all,  they were terribly, wrenchingly lonely.
          Jesus had promised them they would be clothed in power. Jesus had promised them he would send an Advocate to be with them. Jesus had promised them they would be baptized in Fire. Jesus had promised them he was already preparing a place for them.
          But the promises seemed like so much pie crust to the disciples. They were still waiting for the promises to be fulfilled. They were frightened. And they were so lonely—so profoundly lonely.
                                                ****
          That image…that metaphor…that paradigm of being crowded into a lonely, frightening room rings true for us today.
           Fear haunts us these days. And though we huddle together in our fear, we are still so profoundly lonely. Fear speaks but one word and that word is “NO”.
          Our faith teaches us to be hospitable to strangers—but our Fear says “no” and we distrust those who are different from us.
          Our faith teaches us to be compassionate—but our Fear says “no” and we ignor the 'least of these' in our midst.
          Our faith teaches us to share our gifts with those in need—but our Fear says “no” and we live in the richest nation in the history of human kind where the gap between the rich and the poor gets wider every day.
          Our faith teaches us that “a little child shall lead us” and that we must become like children to enter the Kingdom of God—but our Fear says “no” as millions of children go underfed, undereducated and neglected  around the world and in our country.
          Remember this: Fear always says “NO”.
                                      **** 
There is no easy or simple way to explain it, what happened in that closed and fearful room on the first Pentecost—it happened like this: one moment the room was full of fear and the next moment the room was full of fire and a mighty wind fanned the flames until the fear was burned away and all that was left was hope and joy and those formerly frightened people “found their voices” and left their hiding place and spoke words that transformed the world.
We need the Fires of Pentecost to burn away our fears and the Winds of Pentecost to blow away our loneliness. We need the Spirit to give us our voices so we may proclaim the “Yes” of God to this world.
Fear always says “NO”—but God always says “Yes”….
We need a Pentecost. We need to know that God says “Yes” to us. That God calls us to wonder and joy and love and compassion and hospitality. And not just in the “big things”—God’s “Yes” to us is about “little things” too. God’s “Yes” to us is global, universal, total.
This is a poem by Kaylin Haught titled God Says Yes to Me. It is a Pentecost poem, whether she knew it or not.
I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
          and she said yes
          I asked her if it was okay to be short
          and she said it sure is
          I asked her if I could wear nail polish
          or not wear nail polish
          and she said honey
          she calls me that sometimes
          she said you can do just exactly what you want to
          Thanks God I said
          And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
          my letters
          Sweetcakes God said
          Who knows where she picked that up
          What I’m telling you is
          Yes Yes Yes

          What Pentecost is about is God saying “Yes” to you and you and you and you and you and all of us.       What Pentecost is about is the Spirit coming so we are never, ever, not ever lonely again.
          What Pentecost is about is Fire burning away Fear.
          What Pentecost is about—and listen carefully, this is important—Pentecost is about God saying to you and you and you and you and you and all of us:
          Sweetcakes, what I’m telling you is Yes Yes Yes.



Friday, May 29, 2020

I can't write tonight

I can't write tonight because it would be so hyper-political and hyper-partisan that it might offend some of my readers.

I an heart sick about Minneapolis and George Floyd and the reaction of the President, who quoted racist rhetoric for decades ago.

I just can't write.

I'll pray for those demonstrating for justice for George around the nation--may they do no harm and not be harmed.

My heart is sick.

I cannot write.


Thursday, May 28, 2020

The President at war with Twitter (and most everyone else!)

This President loves 'executive orders'--most of which mean nothing since he 'orders' things he has no Constitutional Powers to order.

The one today about 'social media' is like that.

It means nothing and was opposed by many of the most conservative members of his team.

He claims that by footnoting his tweets with alternative evidence damages his 'first amendment' rights to free speech.

In fact, he is doing the opposite. He is trying to hamper Twitter's 'first amendment' right to correct what are false or bogus statements.

Speaking Truth to Power is at the very core of 'free speech', not hampering 'free speech' as the President claims.

One more of a long line of misleading pronouncements by this President.

And, oh, by the way, his stern opposition to mailing in ballots has nothing to do with fair elections.

He voted by mail in the Florida primary!

It has to do with being able to claim, after the election, that it was rigged.

I have several friends who believe he won't leave when he loses. What then?

Who knows?

We shall see, beloved. We shall see.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Long conversation

The phone and internet is what keeps us connected to each other.

Amazing! I've never been a fan of technology until now.

I had a long conversation with Bob today. He was the organist at St. John's with me for--I know exactly how long--but at least a decade.

He just retired after 52 years as music director at Westover School--a private girls' school in Middlebury.

52 years! Will anybody born since 2000 ever spend their whole, long career at one job?

Probably not.

Anyway, Clair, another friend, sent me a video the school made honoring Bob. Former graduates, teachers and various members of the administration shared memories of him. It was amazing.

I started my conversation by saying, "you don't need any more praise!"

Which, humble man that he is, he admitted.

He was a great musician and choir director for St. John's. And a good and, oh so decent man.

It was great to talk with him and catch up in this not-normal time.

He and his wife, Bonnie, have a home on Nantucket where they're going in a few weeks.

Good and dear people.

What a joy to have them back in my life, if only remotely....

Call someone you love and haven't talked to since the pandemic started. It's a real healing thing.

Do it! I order you....

You'll be glad you did.


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

THEY'RE HERE!!!

I was hoping it wouldn't happen is sleepy, little Cheshire, but today it did.

Half dozen people or so were protesting in front of city hall with "Open CT Now!!" signs and one of those ultra-right wings "Don't tread on me!" flags with the snake on it.

They also had signs that said "Honk if you agree"--I must confess that I was proud of my townspeople when I heard no honks....

Several of them--no masks, standing close together--raised their thumbs at me.

I wanted to raise another finger (not the thumb) at them, or roll down my window and shout, "put on masks, a**holes!" but I didn't. I just pulled up my mask alone in the car and shook my head at them sadly.

And it is sad.

CT was hard hit and our governor has been more cautious than many about re-opening anything.

Bless him.

I know people want to get back to 'normal' (whatever that CAN look like) but at what cost?

I have little room to talk since my income has not been affected in any way--Social Security, the generous Church Pension Fund and my part time job keep putting money in my account, just like before. We even got a stimulus check in our account. I get all that. I know it.

But I have room to talk since I only have one life to live and I'm in a vulnerable group.

Half the people who have died in the US have been over 75. I'm 73.

I have a voice in all this.

Don't show up in my town, at my town hall, recommending things that could endanger me.

Just don't.

O.K.?


Monday, May 25, 2020

We went out today

It was our friend Jack's birthday and for the first time in over three months, Bern and I were around people today. 11, to be exact, one over the limit, but they have a huge front porch and big yards and we tried to keep apart and almost all of us had masks we wore when not eating or drinking.

And I felt weird.

What was always so normal felt weird.

That's what the virus has done to my psyche, and probably  yours.

Ordinary things back in January feel weird today.

I washed my hands twice while there and immediately when I got back home.

No one there knew anyone who had the virus.

But it still felt weird, just being around them.

Will that be the new normal (which won't be normal in any way) ordinary things a few months ago are going to feel weird?

Probably so, beloved. Probably so.

Alas and alack....


Sunday, May 24, 2020

It didn't feel like Sunday

I went out an hour ago to look for the mail.

There wasn't any.

It's Sunday.

But it didn't feel like Sunday because church was on Zoom. I didn't hug anybody. There was no coffee hour.

But it is Sunday.

Then a few minutes ago I heard the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church on NPR, talking about the President's assertion that 'houses of worship' should reopen now.

Michael Curry (our PB) said, "Church isn't closed, just the buildings. Church is the people and we can pray where we are. Just because the buildings are closed doesn't mean Church is closed."

That brought me to my senses.

I'd 'had' Church today--on Zoom and Facebook!

And Bryan's sermon was both funny and moving. I thank him for it and thank God for him. Many of us ate bread and drank wine at the same time. I'll leave it to the Holy Spirit to decide if it was virtually 'consecrated'.

'Church' IS NOT a building. It is the people who sometimes gather there. And those people were with me on line this morning.

Now, it feels like Sunday!

I give thanks for that feeling and hope all of you feel it as well.


Saturday, May 23, 2020

OK, I know

OK, I know my posts are getting too political. But my purpose here is to 'ponder' the world and much of what is going on in my world is political.

An election is coming, in case your forgot (sorry for the sarcasm there--I'm apologizing for everything tonight!) It is certainly the most important election in my lifetime and I'm over 70, so that's a while.

We've been in a maelstrom for over three years now--nobody in charge, major offices unfilled or filled by temps, no real national policy on much of anything--and then this pandemic and states left to fend for themselves (thankfully many did) and re-opening against all scientific advice.

No wonder I've been obsessed with politics!

But tomorrow is the 7th Sunday of Easter and the reading from 1 Peter begins like this: "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed."

This ordeal is terrible.

But we have hope and we have God and we have our faith or non-faith, but at least 'hope'.

Deep breath.

We will survive this.

And we will move on.

Hopefully rejoicing as we do.

Be hopeful my friends.

Be hopeful above all.


Friday, May 22, 2020

Holy, and I mean 'Holy' Cow!!!

The President today declared that 'houses of worship' are essential and therefore should be opened immediately.

I don't think he can do that and our Governor and Bishops have set June 21 as the earliest we can have church in a group.

Does the President want to kill off religious people?

Among white Evangelicals that would hurt him in the election.

His insistence about 'reopening' American puts us all at risk.

Like so many things he says and lies about, I just don't get it.

Church is a horrible idea right now.

Holy Cow, don't put us as risk like that!

He said we 'need prayer'.

Doesn't he know I can pray while I'm writing this? I don't need a building to 'pray'. Prayer is an action of the heart and soul, not a space.

I do pray he comes to his senses.

Probably a prayer that floats off into the ether without being answered.

Amen and Amen.

God help us....









1

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Wear a mask, a**h**e

The President went to a Ford plant in Michigan today that absolutely requires that everyone inside the plant must wear a mask.

And though he put one on, as soon as the cameras started rolling, he took it off.

What kind of leadership is that?

Don't rules to protect safety apply to everyone?

If he was a homicide policeman, would he wear a bullet proof vest when going into a situation where shots might be fired?

If he was a surgeon, would he wash his hands and were scrubs, gloves, and a mask?

If he were in the Army in combat (oh, I forgot, bone spurs!) would he wear a helmet and carry a gun?

If he were a teacher, would he use the black board?

If he were a priest, would he wear a stole?

What in the S*** is wrong with this guy?

Why is he president?

Will he be again?

God help me, I pray not!

Vote! Vote! Vote!




Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Opening up

Connecticut, thank whatever God there is, is one of the last states to start opening up again.

Bern just told me the Consignment Shop, where she goes a lot, is opening on the 27th. Good for her. I seldom go there.

I don't know when I'll go to anywhere besides the grocery store and wine store. I've become immune to going to places I used to go to.

I know millions need to get back to work. But I don't. And I don't need to go to their stores and restaurants and bars and nail salons and barber shops and gyms. The only one of those I usually frequent is a salon to get a pedicure.

I have trouble cutting my toenails. But I've been fine, if not perfect.

Toenails grow much slower than fingernails so I only need to cut them every three or four months, not monthly like my fingernails.

I know I'm different from many since I'm mostly retired and didn't go out as much before all this, but, though people need to work, I'm not sure, even in Connecticut, that it's time yet to lift the quarantine quite yet.

This virus is very dangerous. Though I know others aren't--especially those who need a paycheck--I'll be perfectly happy to 'stay at home' for a couple more months.

We'll see.

Of course, we'll see.




Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Enough hospital today!

I had to go to two hospitals today. Not pleasant in the best of times. Truly awful in these oh-so-un-normal times.

This morning I went to Waterbury Hospital to get my every two weeks injections of Zolaire, that has changed me life. Before Zolaire, this time of year would find me deep in allergic reactions, even to the point of having to take Prednisone. Not since Zolaire. Sniffles, nothing much else.

And I've been doing this for (I'm lost in linear time!) 4 or 5 years at least. Usually it's in and out in half an hour. Today it took me 50 minutes to simply register for the treatment because the hospital has laid off some of the registration staff just as they are opening for more registrations. Luckily, I was 6 feet or more from others waiting because some of them were quite angry.

They take your temperature when you come in and again at the Outpatient Therapy office. 98.5 both times.

Besides that, there was a section of I-84 that went down from 3 lanes to 1 for a couple of miles. But I was running early and made it in time.

Then this afternoon I had to go to Middlestate Hospital in Meriden to see my oncologist.

I don't have cancer, but my PSA has been rising in spite of the fact that I had my prostrate removed a decade ago. Doctors don't really know what that means, but they know it isn't good.

So I had a shot for three months that will limit my testosterone and hopefully lower the bad PSA somewhere in my body. We'll see.

Temperature going in and at the office again. Blood work, talk to the Doctor and then waiting for the shot. I was there an hour for a shot that took less that 15 seconds.

I don't like hospitals, so today was hard. Plus it was my turn to go for groceries. We used to go to the store daily, very European, but now we only go a couple of times a week and buy lots more that what's for dinner!

A long day for me.

Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Stay away, if you can, from hospitals.




Monday, May 18, 2020

bugs

Winters in New England (though this was a mild one, compared to others) are long enough that I forget about bugs.

Bugs are back--crawling, flying, buzzing, darting, sometimes biting.

I only kill the flies.

I take others that are in the house (if I can manage) outside and release them back to the wild--or at least what is 'wild' in a town in Connecticut.

I even take the 'stink bugs' that Bern hates to freedom.

But I don't like bugs much. The interrupt my life in ways I don't appreciate. Bees and wasps drive me inside. Smaller flying bugs land on the book I'm reading and won't go away. Ants climb on my feet and sandals. Butterflies and moths are fine--though the latter spook me a bit. I don't know why.

I feel about most bugs the way the President feels about Inspector Generals. But unlike me, he kills them (fires them!) left and right. Four this month.

Inspector Generals of each part of government are there, by law, to keep a eye out for wrong doing. Many serve though several administrations. They are not supposed to be partisan in any way.

And the President fires them for keeping too close an eye on things.

Mike Pompeo and his wife were being looked at for misusing aides to do menial and personal things for them.

So, keeping an eye out ends up getting you fired.

At least I only kill flies.

I let the rest live.

I wish our President did too--and had people keeping a close eye on him and his administration.

Too much to wish, I guess.


Sunday, May 17, 2020

In normal times 5

In normal times I would have gone to one of the three churches I serve and everyone would have seen me and heard me and we would have celebrated the Eucharist and had coffee hour and loved each other.

But today, in these anything BUT normal times, we did church on Zoom and Face Book and on phones and no one could see me, though they could hear me and listen to my sermon and Bryan's celebration of Eucharist. I saw myself through it all. Weird.


Zoom broke down on Sunday morning between 9 and noon in many parts of the country--especially it seems, New England. Covid-19 and Zoom don't seem to like New England.

Folks reading froze up. Folks doing prayers dropped out. It was weird, but not so surprising in such un-normal times. Internet technology is just like most every thing else. S*** happens.

It was fine in the end. I've talked to several folks who said 'listening' was better than 'nothing'.

Which is true always.

I could see one of my cousins who tuned in from WV, but not the other one.

I say 'cousins' because we are, somehow.It's just on my father's side of my family, relationships were vague and varying. I called lots of people 'aunt' and 'uncle' who weren't.

My mother's side of the family was strict to being ridiculous about 'relationships'.

My uncle Sid, my father's brother, happened to marry my mother's 1st cousin. Sid and Callie's two children told me that we were 'double first cousins' and since I was much younger, that made sense.

When I told my maternal grandmother that--Lina Manona Sadler Jones--she said 'humpf' and told me that we were first cousins on my father's side but third cousins on my mother's side.

Well, that wasn't the only distinctions between the sides of my family. The Bradley's liked a drink and the Jones' were non-drinkers. The Jones' were all Evangelical church-goers and the Bradley's (except for my father) avoided church whenever they could.

No wonder I have so many conflicting opinions....


Saturday, May 16, 2020

In normal times 4

In normal times, I'd be thinking about which of the three churches I was scheduled for tomorrow and thinking about my sermon and how long the drive will take--so I'd know when to get up.

But these aren't normal times.

I'll set my alarm for 9:11 a.m. and be part of the zoom and facebook live service at 10.

Bryan and I are never at the same church unless there is joint service with the Bishop, but we'll be there on zoom. I'll do the sermon and blessing and Bryan will do the rest.

It's been working well for weeks now, but it's not the same as normal time.

What will 'normal time' look like when there is a break from this virus?

I'm not sure.

Not as much touching, for sure--though that's hard for church...all three churches are hug filled places.

Masks are fine with me--but for how long? Always, that seems severe, but if it is necessary I will do it.

I had asthma as a child and get shots of Zolaire every two weeks to control any bronchial problems. The drug does control that, but what would the virus do?

I've come to grips because of my age and bronchial problems, that if I get the virus, I will die.

I realize that and therefore will obey all the rules as long as they are in place.

Lots of people like me, I'm sure.

So while those idiots protest without masks or social distancing and carry weapons to 'reopen' states, I will play by the rules as long as rules are needed.

You should too.

Really, you should in these oh-so-not normal times.


Friday, May 15, 2020

I don't get it

The University of Chicago Divinity School did a poll that said 2/3 of Americans believe the corona virus is a 'message from God'.

I don't get it.

Which God do they mean, the Old Testament Yahweh who sent plagues and pestilence and wiped out people? Or the God/Father/Mother of Jesus who urged us to love one another and even be kind and pray for our enemies?

A sign from God, in my mind, any message God would send, would be of hope and promise and life--not a virus of death.

Now, to give them credit, those people in the survey did say that the sign from God was to tell the world to 'change its ways': to stamp out poverty and racism, to narrow the gap between rich and poor, to raise wages, to improve healthcare for all people, things like that.

And hopefully, when the is better contained, we will have the will and leadership to accomplish those things. It is just a shame that thousands must die to inspire us to level our differences in health and wages and racial disparity.

But to say 'God sent it to teach us a lesson' is beyond my theological grasp.

No God I know and love and trust would do that.

Not now, not ever....




Thursday, May 14, 2020

In Normal times 3

In normal times, since it is 9:19 p.m., we would have wrapped up the last evening session of Making a Difference and be going to bed ready for the transformation of tomorrow.

MAD is 'transformational technology' (even though my spell check doesn't know that t-word) and the last morning is when we actually see people's faces and body language change for the better.

It is a remarkable experience to see that. And even more remarkable to experience that.

We end the workshop with centering prayer--which has been a part of each day several times--and then go eat lunch before leaving, all new.

For my part, I can't over-state what the workshop has meant to me and many others over the years. A new start, a 'beginning' with no end, something beyond words but felt deeply.

I miss not being there at Holy Cross for tomorrow!

I will hold that longing in my heart.

But I am more moved by how safe we are, here in Cheshire, and how no one in the three little rural churches has the virus. And how our children and grand-daughters are safe.

These are trying times.

Meditation helps.

I do centering prayer--just sitting for 20 minutes longing to be present to the God within me.

I also do the Jesus prayer. Inhale and say, to yourself, "Lord Jesus Christ", the exhale and say in your mind, "have mercy on me".

Do either and you will be calmed.

And there are lots of videos on line that are soothing. My friend Charles sent it to me. Try it out.

try that one and be rewarded.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Bird songs and too, too soon

There are so many birds in our yard.

I took the dog out at 9 p.m. and they were still singing. Lots of song birds and a few too many crows.

Crows are the smartest birds, by the way. They figure out things you wouldn't think a bird brain could figure out. Like stealing shiny objects. One sat on a tree this morning and stared at me for five minutes. I was feeling a little unsafe when he finally cawed and flew away. And a group of crows are called a 'murder of crows'. Not a comforting title.

But even crows would be smart enough to know it is too, too soon to be opening the country in the face of this pandemic.

Staying home and staying safe is working--but not enough yet.

The problem is the President is ignoring the pleas of public health experts and scientists because he feel a robust economy is his only chance for re-election.

Another problem is that the virus takes a couple of weeks to show up, even if there was enough testing--which, in spite of the President's statements, there isn't enough.

So states like Georgia and Texas and many others re-opening won't know for 14 days or so how much the virus has spread. Then it will be too late to avoid needless deaths.

Joe Biden said, the other day, if he were President he would tell people to listen to Dr. Fauci and other scientists and not to politicians.

Would that he were!

Many Americans who will die in the too soon re-opening wouldn't if we extended the shut down.

Bird songs are soothing. The deeply partisan politics in our nation during a national emergency is anything but soothing.

Anxiety and Fear fit better for that.

Listen to the birds to soothe your heart and soul.

Vote in November to end the anxiety and fear you feel.


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

In Normal Times 2

In post pandemic times I would be in West Park, NY, at Holy Cross Monastery getting ready for bed having finished the day's session of the Making a Difference workshop.

What 'making a difference' is about is going outside the lines of what is easy and hard, what is important and unimportant, possible and impossible to a place where we 'make a difference' beyond those realms.

Our lives are run on a scale of important and unimportant.

If you are a minister, writing your sermon isn't 'important' on Monday. It becomes very 'important' by Friday night. But if you hear a parishioner is in the hospital on Saturday morning, the sermon becomes less 'important' and the visit to the hospital becomes 'important'.

"Making a Difference" isn't on that scale.

Making a Difference, as we draw it on a board, after drawing the important/unimportant line, is a dot up in the corner that is labeled MAD.

Making a difference is something that comes out of our declaration of 'who we are in the matter'.

It's not important or unimportant--it's WHO WE BE.

It's a powerful and profoundly transforming workshop.

I wish I were there helping lead it--leading people to Declare Who They Be in the matter.

And standing on the huge porch of the monastery watching the mighty Hudson River flow.

I miss that in this strange and utterly different times.


Monday, May 11, 2020

In normal times

In normal times, I would be packing tonight to go to Holy Cross Monastery (Episcopal monks live there, in case you didn't know Episcopalians had 'monks') in West Park, New York, on the upper Hudson River, to help lead a Making A Difference Workshop.

I've been leading it for over 25 years and have outlived all the other leaders except A.O. who is the head of the Mastery Foundation, which sponsors the workshops and J.. who is 90 and quit leading years ago.

Making a Difference changed and saved my life!

I was out of parish ministry when I took the workshop, burned out to a crisp and considering renouncing my priestly vows.

But, at the workshop I came up with the Declaration (which is how all workshops end--with the participants 'declaring' who they are.


My declaration after 4 days, was this, 'I AM PRIEST'.

Not "I am A priest". No, it was that who I am in this world is 'Priest'. That's who I be. That's what I live into and out of. My identity. "Who I Am"!!!

I was called to be the Rector of St. John's in Waterbury for the next 21 years and then partially retire and be the Missioner of the Middlesex Area Cluster since shortly after that.

Mine is not the only life I've seen saved and altered by the workshop. Almost everyone who does it gets their Identity made 'all new' and with power to speak that into the world.

I love leading, though I probably won't after a few more years.

But I owe the workshop my life as I have lived it for the last 30 years--the life I was meant to have.

It makes me sad that I won't be heading to West Park tomorrow. We've moved it to next year.

I hope that works out. I need to 'give back' some of what 'I've gotten' from Making a Difference.

Giving back is how I pay forward for this life I love so much.




Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was founded by Anna Marie Jarvis from Grafton, West Virginia, one of the few things West Virginia accomplished in the world.

Her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis was a teacher and Sunday School teach in Grafton. She had a prayer she ended a Sunday School lesson with. It went like this:
I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.
— Ann Reeves Jarvis
Anna did that in 1918.

Both our children called Bern (Mimi on Face Time) and wished her a joyous day.
In a different time they would have been here with us. Alas.
Joyous Mother's Day to mothers everywhere--even those who are mourning and frightened.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Freezing in May

It's 6 p.m. and the temperature on our back porch is 34 degrees.

Bern has covered all our plants on the deck and the tomato plants she put in the ground a few days ago on a warm, spring day.l

It's snowing in upstate New York where Mimi, Tim and Eleanor are. She sent us a picture of the snow.

It's May 9th!

It is suppose to be warm.

Maybe mother nature is playing a game with our President (WhoWillNotBeNamedHere) since he said, weeks ago, the virus would just go away when the warmth of April came.

But just yesterday he said the virus would 'go away' without a vaccine and testing is over-rated. States, mostly those with Republican governors, are opening up without meeting the White House's own guidelines, and will, beyond doubt, spike virus infections.

Without a doubt, he WWNBNH has mishandled this pandemic so badly that the U.S. has more cases and more deaths than anywhere in the world. Go on Youtube and watch Trevor Noah's video on the President's time-line in this pandemic. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so dangerous.

Also, watch Bill Maher's thoughts about the accusation against Biden. He says, rightly, that there is nothing that doesn't make this a he said/she said case and that compared to the President, Biden is the Archangel Gabriel. Nothing is more important than the pandemic that not re-electing the President.

All true.

Like this true: TRUE.

Be well and stay well, dear friends.


Friday, May 8, 2020

Brigit in the rain

We've been Brigit's man and woman for well over a year now, but the abuse she received before we found her (whatever that was) rears it's head from time to time.

Sometimes she jumps when we touch her. Noises outside scare her. Our ice maker's noises scare her and it's just above her bowls in the kitchen so we can't make ice when she is eating--if we do, she won't eat.

Tonight we had to go out in the rain. When I tried to take her lead off, my umbrella came close to her and she darted off the deck with the lead still on.

She peed fine, but having the lead on confused (and probably scared her for some reason) so she stopped walking and didn't move until I went down and took the lead off.

She let me dry her with a towel for a long time on the back porch--she doesn't like being wet--then took her treat upstairs rather than eating it in the little sitting room off the kitchen like she usually does.

She is the gentlest of dogs. She never barks. She walks on her lead really well. She is the sweetest of all the dogs we've ever had. A real joy for us--and for her, I hope.

But it's those moments when whatever happened to her comes back.

I'm not sure that will ever stop. I wish it would, but I'm not sure it will.

She deserves to forget all that.

But I'm not sure she ever will.

As gentle and affectionate as she is, sometimes her memory haunts her.

Just like us, I guess.

Memory can be haunting.


Thursday, May 7, 2020

A warm Spring day

One of the few this Spring.

But lovely.

This morning I saw a dozen birds in our yard and the surrounding trees and three squirrels, doing whatever squirrels do.

You could almost imagine that everything was okay in our world.

Sun and warmth, blue skies, birds and squirrels.

Lovely!

I took it all in all day and thanked whatever Powers that Be for such a day.

(You'd think an Episcopal priest would thank his Episcopal God for such a day. But I'm convinced my view of deity is much too small and much to limited to take in the Powers that Be in the universe. Don't tell my bishop, just know that's what I believe....)

Later, watching the news on CNN and MSNBC, I knew all was not well.

But it was a respite to imagine it was for a few hours.

We all need a respite these strange and dangerous days.

We just do.

Find a respite for yourself in the days to come.

You need it.

You deserve it.

Just a few hours of  'everything is alright' can help you meet the days ahead with courage and hopefulness.

And those we need: courage and hopefulness.

We really need them.

Really.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Blasphemy!!!

Blasphemy is not a word I use easily or lightly.od

But I use it without a doubt about its truth about the statements of Ohio State Representative Nino Vitalez. He's a Republican (in case you were wondering) in the Ohio House of Representatives.

He said he would not wear a face mask during the pandemic because (and I quote): "Masks dishonor God."

His argument goes something like this: we are told we are created in the image and likeness of God in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The 'likeness of God', he contends, isn't in our elbows or knees or shoulders, but in our faces.

So, to cover the face with a mask to try to save lives, 'dishonors God's image in us'.

As a Christian and a priest I have heard a lot of nonsense disguised as 'religious truth'.

Bit nothing like this!

Merriam Webster's dictionary defines 'blasphemy' like this:

1. The act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God.

2. The act of claiming the attributes of a Deity.

Rep. Vitalez does both.

By insinuating that God would be against something that would save the people God created from death is contempt for God's love.

By insinuating that his 'face' shows 'the image and likeness of God' implies he is claiming the attributes of a Deity, when in fact God's image and likeness is more likely reflected in our love and our kindness and our compassion, not our faces.

And the love and kindness and compassion of our medical professionals is in clear view in this crisis and shines brightly as the image and likeness of God, though their faces, and hopefully their whole bodies are covered with protective equipment and masks.

Get behind me, blasphemer!

God wants those made in God's 'image' and 'likeness' to be SAFE not SEEN.




And the Beat goes on

One day the Corona Task Force is going to end.

The next day the Corona Task Force is going on indefinitely.

How many times will the President contradict himself?

Opening the Country in the face of rising cases of the virus.

No state that has begun to reopen has missed the guidelines the President himself set for reopening (like 14 days of declining infections). Then he praises them for re-opening!

The beat goes on.

Over and over we have gotten mixed messages from this President.

"We've never lived through days like this," has been said so often about the pandemic.

You could say the same thing twice about living though the days of this Presidency.

"We've never lived through days like this."

"We've never lived through days like this."

And the beat goes on....


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Being magic

I'm reading a novel about a Private Investigator trying to solve a murder in a school for Mages where everyone--male and female--is called a 'mage'. It is not unlike Hogwarts and Harry Potter, except in this time and in California.

Sounds very strange, I know, but it isn't. The PI isn't a magic person and most ordinary people don't believe is wizardry. She, the PI, is the twin sister of one of the teachers at the school.

It's called Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey. I recommend it.

But because I'm reading about magic, I looked at a long time at a complex line drawing with words that was made for me by S.A. an old friend, years ago.

I was Rector of St. Paul's in New Haven and S.A. was one of the seminarians working with me. Like me, he was from West Virginia and was being given grief by the Standing Committee for not being able to adequately express why he wanted to be a priest.

"Tell them you want to be Magic," I told him, only half-kidding. "You know, turn wine and bread into Blood and Body...make babies holy with a little water...forgive sins...'magic' stuff like that."

Apparently he did it and they approved him for ordination!

S. was an artist and made me an incredible piece of art surrounded on four sides by the words, time after time, MAGIC*MAGIC*MAGIC*MAGIC....

It's just above my head as I write this. I love it.

(I really miss the Harry Potter books and movies. Maybe we'll be sequestered long enough to re-read and re-watch them....That would be a gift from the virus.)


Sunday, May 3, 2020

Easter 4

Here is a sermon I preached on this day, years ago. It was nothing like my sermon today that really was about sheep and shepherds. But I share it with you this Easter 4 Sunday.





EASTER 4, 2006 (The Good Shepherd….)

          The 4th Sunday of Easter is known as “Good Shepherd Sunday”. The Gospel is always from the 10th Chapter of John, the OT reading—as in Ezekiel today—always refers to sheep and shepherds and the Psalm…O’ the Psalm…is usually the 23rd Psalm (“The Lord is my Shepherd”) and when not it is Psalm 100 (“we are his people and the sheep of his pasture”).
          I was ordained in 1975 and in the years since then I have preached on “Good Shepherd Sunday” nearly two dozen times. And I’m here to tell you today that the well is dry, I’ve told you everything I know about sheep and shepherds, I’ve emptied the tank and exhausted my reservoir of Biblical, historical and personal information about herding sheep and tending sheep and sheep in general, never mind the shepherd who herds and tends them. I’m finished. I have nothing to say about “the Good Shepherd”. I hereby swear off sheep and shepherds for the rest of my preaching life! I am dry and finished with that metaphor.
          So, enjoy the music and come to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, but don’t expect me to talk about sheep and shepherds today….I’m taking the day off….
          However, I’m an old English major, so I’m never through with metaphors.
          A metaphor, according to my dictionary, is: a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.
          The English word, “metaphor” comes from the Greek “meta-pherein”, which means, literally, “to bear”. A metaphor “bears” a second meaning.
          “You are my sunshine,” is a metaphor. Even though a person CAN’T BE “sunshine”, we all know what the metaphor means. It means that the person referred to “lights up my life”, “gives me warmth”, provides joy and comfort and meaning to life.
          (OK, if you aren’t an old English major, I’m making your eyes glaze over. But this kind of conversation “is food and drink to an old English major.” That, by the way, is a “metaphor”. Obviously a conversation about figures of speech isn’t really “food and drink”, but we all know what that means.)

          One thing about metaphors—they all eventually fall apart. A person, no matter how much you love them, ISN’T “sunshine” and a conversation about metaphors ISN’T “food and drink”. Metaphors all fail eventually.
          Jesus’ metaphor: “I am the good shepherd” falls apart on a couple of levels. First of all, and most obviously, Jesus wasn’t a shepherd and we aren’t sheep. Secondly, unlike metaphors about “sunshine” and “food and drink”, both of which we all have intimate knowledge about, you and I don’t know much about sheep and shepherds. We just don’t.
          So, what is the reference Jesus is making? What is the likeness and similarity of “who he is” that is comparable, in the metaphor, to being “the Good Shepherd”? What is he trying to tell us?
          There was probably something obvious to those who heard Jesus’ metaphor first hand, or those who read the metaphor in Ezekiel when it was first written, and to David as he wrote the psalms about sheep and shepherds that is not obvious to me and most likely, not obvious to you. And here’s what I think that obvious thing is: the shepherd, in their culture and experience, wasn’t just a “caretaker” of the sheep…the shepherd and the sheep were interdependent…the shepherd’s well being depended upon the sheep’s well being.
          So, what Jesus is trying to tell us in this metaphor, it seems to me, is that his relationship to us is like that as well. Jesus feels interdependent with those whom he loves. His well being depends on our well being. And for love, he was willing to lay down his life for us.

          Remember Jesus’ parable about the shepherd who would leave the ninety and nine sheep and go seek the one that was lost? That too is a metaphor for the love God feels for each one of us. No matter what happens, no matter how far away we roam, no matter how lost we get—God will come looking for us, seek us out, risk all for each of us.
          In most every funeral homily I give, at some point I will say that the person who died is “in the nearer presence of the one who loves them best of all.” I don’t have any idea what that means, realistically, but I “trust” with all my heart that it is so.
          That, in my mind and heart, is a Truth we shouldn’t have to wait to “trust” in. God loves each of us—each of us—“best of all”. We are never alone, no never, not ever alone. And God’s love is so eternal, so wondrous, so unfathomable that God really can love each of us “best of all….”

          I’m going to date myself now. How many of you know what a “Slam Book” is?
          When I was in grade school and even junior high school, people would circulate spiral notebooks for everyone to fill in. The book would ask all sorts of silly questions like: “What’s your favorite food?” and “What TV show do you like best?” and “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
          And always, always there would be a question like this: “Who do you like best of all?” That was the question about pre-adolescent and adolescent unrequited love.
          When I was in 5th grade, Donna Comber gave me her Slam Book to fill out. The great thing about Slam Books was to read what other people wrote. And as I read it I saw that Anna Maria Osborn wrote “Jimmy Bradley” under the question “Who do you like best of all?”
          Anna Maria was the prettiest and nicest girl in our school and I was this dorky kid with a crew cut, Coke bottle thick glasses and goofy clothes. My heart leapt up! I was as close to heaven as I’d ever been! Anna Maria liked me best of all….There was nothing life could throw at me that I couldn’t handle!
          We were 10 years old and I was dorky and Anna Maria’s parents moved away that summer. But it was so incredible and astonishing to know she liked me “best of all”.
          God’s Slam Book is coming around. And when it comes to you under God’s line at the question “Who do you love best of all?” you will find, wonder of wonders—YOUR NAME. Your name and no other.
          Each of us is the one God loves best of all.
          That is what Jesus’ metaphor is trying to tell us. And we should listen. We should listen and trust that it is so….
         
         
 

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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.