Monday, July 26, 2021

The good news and the bad news

(I found this in my documents today. I know it's not Lent, I'm a priest, after all. But with polls showing less than 50% of Americans are Christians, it has meaning today.)

 

 

   THE DESERT OF LENT

 

          There is good news and bad news. And both are the same—we are living in the “post-Christian era”.  American culture used to be synonymous with a culturally agreed upon “Christian culture.” That is no longer true. In fact, the Christian church is marginalized in 2012. We live in a “multi-cultural” society. Christianity is no longer the norm. In fact, the Church is now and will be for some extended time, perhaps forever, a remnant in our society. Once again, as in the first and second centuries of the first millennium, we are a “pilgrim people”, the Church lives in the desert—on the edges of society, as a counter-culture.

 

          That is the bad news and the good news.

 

          It is “bad news” because it requires us, as the Church, to give up our arrogance and control of the culture. It is “good news” because it requires us, as the Church, to give up our arrogance and control of the culture.

 

          The GOOD NEWS and BAD NEWS are exactly the same.

 

                                                *

 

          The “desert church” motif is one I appreciate and embrace. The first rule of living in the desert is this: never carry anything you don’t need to survive.  So, here in the desert, the Church has the opportunity to lay down and cast aside much of the flotsam and jetsam that holds us back and pins us down. We have to be a “pilgrim people” who travel light.

 

          At a clergy conference years ago, one of the speakers talked about “the desert church”—the church of the new millennium and this post-Christian era. It is almost like being back in the days before the Council of Nicaea in 325 C. E. (If you had any doubt that we’re in the “post Christian era” notice how the politically correct—like me!—use “C. E.”, meaning “the Common Era”, for dates rather than the good-old “A. D.”,  anno Domini, meaning, “the year of our Lord.”) After 17 centuries of dominating and forming western culture, the church is back in the market place, competing with other faiths, other philosophies, other spiritual systems. It is an exciting and challenging time for the church. I honestly can’t think of a better time to be a Christian. We must live with urgency and passion. We must “travel light”.

 

We have a job to do.

 

Shalom, jim    

 

 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Today

 Went to my first Vestry meeting at Trinity, Milton.

Talkative group. I like that.

My agreement says I will lead Vestry meetings. I haven't done that for years and won't do it there. I like to listen and watch.

It's a great group of people there. Very committed, very dedicated.

I enjoy them a lot.

I'm still struggling to learn names, but the vestry decided today that everyone should wear name tags, even visitors.

That's good for me.

I begin a Bible study on Wednesday.

I hope it will be challenging for people.

It's 'Reading the Gospels side-by-side" and brings into question what people think about the Gospels.

Looking forward to it mightily.

Good day at Trinity, but 3 1/2 hours is about all I can do to talk to people.

Since the pandemic it's just been me and Bern, and though our conversations are rich, they are rare.

I'm talked out and ready for sleep.


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Good Night

 I've got to get up at 7:40 in the morning to go to Milton and do church.

I'm very sleepy though it's only 9:42.

I'm going to bed.

I hope you've had a good day.

And I wish you restful sleep and a wondrous day tomorrow.

Good night.

Good night.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Friday, July 23, 2021

Lightening bugs

(this is a post I wanted to share again since I've been watching lightening bugs the last few nights)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Yes, Virginia, there are lightening bugs in Connecticut

I've just been watching Lightening Bugs--fire flies--in our neighbor's yard. So I decided to reprise the fourth most viewed post of mine ever.

They are blinking, blinking, blinking.





They're out there tonight--the fireflies--in the mulberry tree just beyond our fence where the groundhogs come in the late summer to eat mulberries that have fermented and make them drunk. A drunk groundhog is a wonder to behold!

And the lightening bugs are in our yard as well. I sat and watched them blink for 20 minutes tonight.

My dear friend, Harriet, wrote me an email about lightening bugs after my blog about them. If I'm more adroit at technology than I think I am, I'm going to put that email here.
Jim, I just read your blog and have my own firefly story. Before we   went to Maine,
before 6/20, one of those nights of powerful   thunderstorms, I was awakened at 10PM
and then again at 2AM by flashes   of lightning followed by cracks of thunder - the
 kind that make me   shoot out of bed - and pounding rain. And then at 4:30AM there
was   just lightning, silent. The silence and light was profound. I kept   waiting
for sound. I couldn't quite believe in heat lightning in June,   so I got out of bed
and looked out the window. There I could see the   sky, filled with silent lightning
 bursts. And under it, our meadow,   filled with lightning bugs (as we call them) or
 fireflies, flashing in   response. I've never seen anything like it. I can't remember
 the last   time I saw a lightning bug. And then your blog. Is this, too, part of
 global warming? Are you and   I being transported back to the warmer climes of
 our youth, West   Virginia and Texas? Well, if it means lightning bugs, the future
 won't   be all bad.
I did do it, by gum....

So the lightening bugs are blinking, as we are, you and I.

Blinking and flashing and living. You and I.

Here's the thing, I've been thinking about a poem I wrote 4 years
ago or so. I used to leave St. John's and go visit folks in the hospital or nursing home or their own home
on my way to my home. Somehow the blinking of the fireflies has reminded me of that. So, I'll try, once more
to be more media savvy than I think I am and share it with you.
 
I DRIVE HOME
I drive home through pain, through suffering,
through death itself.
I drive home through Cat-scans and blood tests
and X-rays and Pet-scans (whatever they are)
and through consultations of surgeons and oncologists
and even more exotic flora with medical degrees.
I drive home through hospitals and houses
and the wondrous work of hospice nurses
and the confusion of dozens more educated than me.
Dressed in green scrubs and Transfiguration white coats,
they discuss the life or death of people I love.
And they hate, more than anything, to lose the hand
to the greatest Poker Player ever, the one with all the chips.
And, here’s the joke, they always lose in the end—
the River Card turns it all bad and Death wins.
So, while they consult and add artificial poison
to the Poison of Death—shots and pills and IV’s
of poison—I drive home and stop in vacant rooms
and wondrous houses full of memories
and dispense my meager, medieval medicine
of bread and wine and oil.
Sometimes I think…sometimes I think…
I should not drive home at all
since I stop in hospitals and houses to bring my pitiful offering
to those one step, one banana peel beneath their foot,
from meeting the Lover of Souls.
I do not hate Death. I hate dying, but not Death.
But it is often too much for me, stopping on the way home
to press the wafer into their quaking hands;
to lift the tiny, pewter cup of bad port wine to their trembling lips;
and to smear their foreheads with fragrant oil
while mumbling much rehearsed words and wishing them
whole and well and eternal.
I believe in God only around the edges.
But when I drive home, visiting the dying,
I’m the best they’ll get of all that.
And when they hold my hand with tears in their eyes
and thank me so profoundly, so solemnly, with such sweet terror
in their voices, then I know.
Driving home and stopping there is what I’m meant to do.
A little bread, a little wine and some sweet smelling oil
may be—if not enough—just what was missing.
I’m driving home, driving home, stopping to touch the hand of Death.
Perhaps that is all I can do.
I tell myself that, driving home, blinded by pain and tears,
having been with Holy Ones.
8/2007 jgb
Someone once told me, "We're all dying, you know. It's just a matter of timing...."

Fireflies, more the pity, live only a fraction of a second to the time that we humans live. They will be gone from the mulberry tree and my back yard in a few weeks, never to be seen again. But the years and years we live are, in a profound way, only a few blinks, a few flares, a few flashes in the economy of the universe. We should live them well and appreciate each moment. Really.

One of the unexpected blessings of having been a priest for so long is the moments, the flashes, I've gotten to spend with 'the holy ones', those about to pass on from this life.

Hey, if you woke up this morning you're ahead of a lot of folks. Don't waste the moment.

(I told Harriet and she agreed, that we would have been blessed beyond measure to have walked down in that meadow while the silent lightening lit the sky to be with the fire-flies, to have them hover around us, light on our arms, in our hair, on our clothes, be one with them....flashing, blinking, sharing their flares of light. Magic.)

(What isn't here is one of my worst memories from childhood--catching fireflies and putting them in a jar and letting them die.

I regret that more than most anything I've ever done.

My own fault, my most grievous fault. I am profoundly sorry for doing that.)

 

Bridget to the Vet

Not a good day for our dog, Bridget.

She went to the Vet.

Dr. Matz is a great Vet. She is gentle and kind and wonderful.

But Bridget was having none of it.

The assistant who weighed her and took her temp gave her lots of treats she wouldn't eat until the assistant left the room! Then she ate them.

Dr. Matz is very thorough, so she is seldom punctual.

We waited in an exam room for half-an-hour for her.

Bridget would whine and move around.

And eat left over treats.

She got three shots and they took blood.

When they raised the exam table, Bridget laid down on it and the assistant had to hold all her 62 pounds up so the Vet could examine her.

She was glad to get out of there, but held it against us for an hour or so.

But bites of our dinner seemed to make all things right again!

 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Yesterday

 Yesterday was my daughter's birthday.

She is so wondrous and she and Tim have given us a wondrous grand-daughter in Eleanor, who will be 5 next month.

Mimi's name is Jeremy Johanna Bradley.

But when she was a baby she was a screamer.

Our son, Josh, three at the time, would sing to her: "Jeremy, Mimi, Mimi, Mimi...."

It stuck.

I love her so, so much.

I wish I could have hugged her yesterday.

But maybe later next month.

What a wonder she is.

Our Mimi.


Take a deep breath

 It has been a rough 18 months.

Covid is not over and won't be until 80% or so are vaccinated.

But we are in a lull. 

Lulls are good.

It gives us a chance to take a deep breath and, recognizing all we have missed out on, realize we have things we can do now.

All our friends and children and grand-children (except Eleanor who is five) have been vaccinated.

We are able to be together outside and inside if necessary and celebrate being together.

If you have any friends who are not vaccinated, hold a gun to their head and make the get the shots.

But things are better than they were.

We're using a common cup for communion at Trinity, Milton for all who are vaccinated.

Some things are back to normal.

NOT ALL, remember that, but 'some'.


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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.