Friday, December 31, 2010

8 minutes before midnight

It is almost 2011. Bern and I didn't go anywhere. We hate going anywhere on New Year's Eve.

There's so much to say about a new year--possibilities, promises, resolutions, all that.

But I noticed a piece of paper Bern had put on her little computer space. It was about a lost dog.

LOST DOG! (it said) REWARD

on it went:

SADIE, a blond, 40 pound Lab mix, escaped from...

on and on it went. Bern took this down from somewhere because the picture of the dog was so similar to our dog Sadie, BB before Bela, who was a Lab mix--Lab and cockier spaniel, go figure and ponder that--who we loved, loved, so profoundly loved. And our Sadie was dead and some other person's Sadie was missing. Painful it was, but she kept it.

So the new year will begin and there will be lost dogs.

Maybe that is how we should approach this new year--knowing there will be 'lost dogs', lost love, lost loved ones, lost stuff, lost and not forgotten, lost and forgotten, lost things.....Like the sheep and the coin and the son from the Gospels, like that.

2011, like any other year, will be a year of loss.

Loss is, it seems to me, a part of life and reality and 'what IS'.

So celebrate and rejoice.

And ponder what last year's losses were. And what this new year's losses might be.

it's now 12:05, my computer tells me.

Happy New Year to you all. It is now 1-1-11. What a remarkable moment.

Watch out for lost things in 2011.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The $9 two dollar bill

I just saw an ad on TV, during the UConn Women/Stanford game--Go Stanford!...except I wanted WVU's women to end the streak in Feb....

Oh, well.

Anyhow, you can, for a short time, get a $2 bill for only $9 if you call right away. The regular price is $30 for a 2$ bill, so, what a deal....

Bern has a theory that I can't fault--we are being sold stuff we either already have or don't want.

And we keep buying.

and buying...

and buying...

Well, maybe we'll restart the economy and lower the national debt by buying $2 bills for $9, plus shipping and handling.

Who knows? Something to ponder....

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

5th day of Christmas

The Christmas Cards I've used for several years are from Michael Podesta in Carrolton, VA.

They say the following:

"If, as Herod, we fill our lives with things and again with things. if we consider ourselves so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action. When will we have time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds? Or brood over the coming of the child as did Mary? For each one of us there is a desert to travel, a star to discover, and a being within ourselves to bring to life."

Instead of Five Gold Rings, I give you that to ponder on this 5th day of Christmas.

Happy Christmas--5 of 12 days in.....

five golden rings

It's the fifth day of Christmas--happy 5th Day of Christmas.

I've been taking a few days off from writing anything--including the Castor Oil Tree.

I'm at a hard point in my writing about my priesthood. It's a chapter about some very nasty things that happened at St. James in Charleston WV. I just don't want it to be too judgmental. So, it is slow going.

On the Canal today a guy stopped me because I had on my West Virginia University jacket. A guy from the Soup Kitchen gave it to me because he knew I went there. He told me he bought it at the Mall. I'm sure he stole it somewhere. But it is very warm, so I wear it walking the dog on the Canal.

The guy saw my jacket and asked if I was from WV. Well, of course I am. Wearing that jacket makes that clear, I think. (You may not know it, but advertising that you're from WV isn't easy--just like it took me 30 years to admit how much I like country music....)

The guy told me about his grandson (8), who is quite an athlete and his granddaughter (11) who is musically talented. The boy's parents want to keep him from playing football, though he wants to. The guy said, "I told him, wouldn't it be great if the first day you played 2nd base for the Red Sox, your sister sang the National Anthem?"

"No," his grandson said, "what I imagine is when the New England Patriots choose, in the first round, Jake, the running back from West Virginia University."

He told me Jake liked the Mountaineers' uniforms. I had to admit I'm a long time Chicago Bears fan because I love their home uniforms--black helmets and jerseys and white pants with orange and white numbers.

So, what do you know. WVU may have a running back in 10 years or so from Cheshire. I'd like that.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas memories

Since I don't have any Christmas Eve services this year--which feels odd--I've been sitting around, looking at the tree and remembering.

Two things my mother always did:

She would buy small, impersonal gifts--salt and pepper shakers (a big deal in my family, several people collected them), towels, a box of candy, stuff like that--and wrap them with a blank name tag (everyone used name tags then). If someone brought her a present she hadn't expected, she'd go into the bed room and write their name on one of the tags.

She would try to save the Christmas wrapping paper for next year. That was maddening to a child, having to unwrap carefully, but she was way ahead of the recycling awareness of today.

Have a great Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


It's the eve of the eve. I'm really remarkably ready for Christmas this year.

For the first time in decades, I'm not worrying about the Christmas services. I have a bit of nostalgia about it--there was a real 'rush' about those Eucharists and a real commitment to making them special, wondrous, unforgettable.

I never fretted much about the C&E crowd--"Christmas and Easter" parishioners or visitors. In fact, since they wouldn't be there much at other times, I always wanted to make Christmas and Easter astonishing for them.

But this year, I'm not fretting at all.

In fact, I'm wondering where to go to church or if I will go to church at all.

If it weren't for John's dinner party, I'd go to St. Peter's in Cheshire, probably to the second of the three services. In the early evening using Rite One. That might be soothing.

But my friend, John, has a dinner party on Christmas Eve. I've never gone to it and this year we can. His plot is to make people go to Midnight Mass with him at Christ Church, New Haven, the best Anglo-Catholic parish in the diocese. I probably will. It will be a show of great proportions with incomparable music and lots of incense.

Christmas on Saturday was always my greatest nightmare as a parish priest. It meant having two or three services on Friday, a Christmas Mass (hence the word: "Christ-Mass") and two services on Sunday with only the most committed 'church rats' there. Lots of work and no time to really celebrate for me.

This year I don't have all that. I truly look forward to it.

Our trees are trimmed. There are gifts (Bern and I only give each other things we've made--she does some remarkable arty thing for me and I write her a poem or a story. This year, not worrying about 'churchy stuff', I wrote her two stories and bound them in the kind of book you use for photographs. They are a little hokey--since Christmas is, after all, the permission to be hokey and sentimental. But they are good, I think. I hope she loves them.

For the last week and a half I've been barred from the TV room on our second floor because she was working on my present. I don't watch morning TV anyway so it was no problem, especially since the things she's made for me in the last five years (since we've been doing this 'make something Christmas') are all now hanging on the walls of our house. She may have missed her calling. Or, perhaps, found her calling in the things she makes for me in multi-media forms.

Josh and Cathy and the girls won't be here for Christmas. They came here for Thanksgiving and alternate years. But since Cathy's parents live in Baltimore, Josh's family is having its first "family Christmas". They have a tree and 3 girls and we sent them some of the family ornaments. We'll go down on Jan 6--take care of Tegan on Fri (Cathy will give the nannie the day off) and have a second Christmas with them.

Here in Cheshire it will be quiet and sweet. Mimi will be here, but not Tim (her partner) since his parents are moving to Florida and he promised to help them pack over Christmas. The only other person with us will be John, my friend. He always comes for Christmas dinner.

It will be quiet and sweet. Since Mimi is the introvert of our two kids, we'll be able to be with her completely, though she can stay only a little over a day. She works for the American Ballet Theater and they're in the midst of a performance run. But it will be lovely, quiet and sweet.

May I wish you that, more than that, of course, but at least that--May your Christmas be lovely, quiet and sweet.

And may Santa and the Christ Child bring you gifts you didn't expect or knew you wanted....


And, as my friend, Ann's card said this year: "Lang may yer lum reek."

That is, the card says, an old Scottish New Year's greeting: "Long may your chimney smoke...."

Not a bad wish in this weather.

Merry Christmas. May Light and Joy be your companions this Christmastide....

hat hair

If hat hair were fatal, I'd be a dead man.

The first mistake was a haircut. I had a hair cut a couple of weeks ago since not having one for seven months or so. My hair was down to my shoulders but too heavy to curl. So, on a whim, I had it cut.

I had forgotten something I learned long ago: No Good Can Come Of Haircuts.

(The truth is: really long hair is great to grow but not so great to have.)

Whatever the hair cutter did--and she did what I told her, leave it just over my ears and long enough to curl in the back. She did that. And the first day I really liked it. Then the terminal hat hair sat in. With my long hair, most of it wasn't under the hat and stayed normal. Now, after the hair cut, my hair is immediately transformed into little, hair sized worms, that lay close to my scalp and (I believe) are sucking out what is left of my brain.

So, I decided to wear my cap everywhere, inside and out. Which, oh, by the way, made the hat hair even worse.

I am pondering all this because I just took a shower and my hair is full and wild and out of control, moving away from my head as hard as it can. But as soon as I put on my hat, I know I'll have worms on my head....sucking brain matter that I actually need....

So, I think I'll grow my hair really long again. By the time its a good length, I won't have to wear a hat. That will be good.

I do love a healthy head of hair....

Monday, December 20, 2010

the moon, the moon....

Tomorrow is the longest night of the year. Then the light begins again to grow daily. Tonight we are almost as far tilted from the sun as we can be, save tomorrow night.

Light and darkness are the metaphors and images that have filled the imagination of human beings for as long as there have been human beings. Powerful they are, more than we know or could realize.

The moon tonight is shining, full and wondrous, through a covering of clouds. I've been watching it since it rose.

There is a full eclipse tomorrow night, though I'm not sure we can see it here. And I won't anyway since it starts at 1:30 a.m. or so.

God of Darkness, we have known you,
as the Light more dimly came.
And the 'morrow is your apex,
from then on your power's wane.
The Light grows stronger every morning,
leaves us later, when day is done.
Your hold upon us now is lifted
and we lean into the sun.
Darkness powerful loses hold
and the Light begins to run.
The chill you leave behind you
will continue to endure
but Spring will follow winter
and the Light will make that sure.
The Dark that held us all in thrall,
weakens now, cannot endure.
Light that lightens, illumines all.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

talkin' Appalachian

My friend, John, emailed me the other day to ask if I knew what 'tetched' meant. Of course I did since that is part of the Appalachian language and John is from WV too.

Since then I've been thinking about other words that might not be in everyone's vocabulary since they are probably Appalachian speak.

"Bide"--when you ask someone to spend time with you ("come on up on the porch and 'bide' a spell").

"Fetch you come a wharp"--what you'd say to a child who is annoying you to death, 'beat you into an inch of your life'--("Johnnie if you don't put that shotgun down rite now I'm going to 'fetch you come a wharp'!")

"Igit"--someone not quite a moron, but close ("That Johnnie is an 'igit'.") But then, I've heard the Irish say that too.

"Pon my swanee"--what you'd say if something surprised, delighted or confused you. ("'Pon my swanee' that idgit Johnnie is playing with the shotgun again." or "'Pon my swanee', Doris, I never heard such a thing....") {Actually, as an English major, I found the Elizabethan root of that term: it is 'Upon my Swan Lea', an oath, promise, or mild profanity.}

"That dog won't hunt"--Bill Clinton actually said that once, confusing the press corps, but I knew just what he meant: "That's something that isn't possible, a failed idea...."

"Snake doctors"--what Yankees call 'dragon flies'. ("I saw a whole swarm of 'snake doctors' down by the creek.")

"Tetched" came in two forms where I grew up: simply "tetched" meant 'dody' (confused, a tad senile) while 'tetched in the head' meant certifiably crazy ("That idgit Johnnie is teched in the head to be playin' with a shotgun.")

I thought of a couple more but can't bring them up right now. I am, after all, a little tetched. I'll talk to John and my cousin Mejol and add to the list.

Appalachian ISN'T Southern. Remember that.

We all said "AppaLATCHian" until John F. Kennedy visited the West Virginia (to see if a Roman Catholic could beat HHH there) and he pronounced it "AppaLAchian"--lone A as in 'cake'. Well, we thought if that smart fellow from up north said it that way, it must be right....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Trees

We have two...Christmas Trees, I mean.

A huge, 8 foot white pine in the living room and a small, 5 foot spruce in the dining room. The white pine is for me--I grew up with white pine Christmas Trees. The spruce is for Bern, what she grew up with.

We started having two trees several years ago. First because we got tired of alternating white pine and spruce and secondly because we have so many ornaments, after 40 Christmas' together, that one tree wouldn't hold them. This year, some are missing. We both know of some we don't have. But search the attic, basement, closets, cabinets, 'under the piano', where a multitude of things live, we can't find the final container. Josh's first ornament--a strawberry he was given in day care when all the other kids got toys in their draw names gifts (no wonder he became a lawyer, to right the wrongs of life)--is with whatever ornaments, like the balloon lady that is my favorite--are. Maybe we'll find them in Epiphany.

Any way, the spruce is decorated with blue and white lights and has only ornaments that are "flying things" on it. We have dozens and dozens of birds and angels and some butterflies and a winged elephant and fairies and such. Only flying things on the spruce.

The white pine has the other, non-flying ornaments. Lots of lions, I realized this year, from my years of being an Aslan freak. Some balls and ice cycles from my childhood trees, ornaments bought and given when children were born, gifts from dear friends. There are very few of them I can't put in historic context and explain. And those I can't, Bern can. (I'd have no memory at all if it weren't for Bern!)

I love them. I sit each night before bed in each room with only the tree lights on and simply visit with the trees and all those memories.

Not a bad thing to ponder--your Christmas tree.

where I've been and what I've been doing

I haven't been faithful in writing here every day as I told myself I would.

Well, it's not the first time I haven't kept a promise to myself.

I've been doing a lot of writing--or editing, I guess. I've been working on the manuscript I've entitled "Farther Along...memories of priesthood". I have a final draft of the first four chapters.

There is a method and order to what I'm doing--there are some 12 chapters left, all but one in draft form--and I know what order they're going in as I edit and retype them. However, though I know the order, I've forgotten the method that got them in that order! I feel a bit like Robert Browning was asked by a lady (women were 'ladies' back then) what a line in one of his poems meant.

Browning considered for a long moment and said, "Madam" (men called women 'Madam" back then) "when I wrote that line only Robert Browning and God knew what it meant. And now, only God knows."

So--there is a method to the madness of the chapter order, but I don't remember now what it was!

The first chapter is called "The Archangel Mariah" and is about my 'call' (whatever that means). It's about why I decided I wanted to be a priest.

The second chapter is "Job Descriptions" and is about my view of what 'priesthood' is 'about'. It isn't everyone's view, Lord knows, but it is mine.

"In the Beginning" is the third chapter and is about how I got from being a mountain boy longing to be a college professor to Harvard Divinity School and then Virginia Seminary and a life as a parish priest.

Humility is the subject of the fourth chapter, called "Fr. Dodge and Hot Stuff". It's about the beginning of my ministry at St. James Church in Charleston, WV and how an elderly priest and an astonishing parishioner taught me what was necessary--really necessary--to be a priest.

If anyone would like to read those first four chapters, send me an email at and I'll email them to you. I warn you, it's over 80 pages and, if I were you, I'd print it out and read a hard copy. But then, I'm not you, so you can do what you want....

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Memories, the sequal

Speaking of memories, I'm still sifting through all the writings Bern found in a drawer that I haven't looked at for 25 years or more.

I found a three-act play called "Reindeer Fair".. . A neat title but some of the pages are missing, though that doesn't matter much since I don't think it would be any more intelligible with all the pages there. I actually remember writing it, thinking it was so avantgard (not in my spell check, but you can sound it out) so post-modern, so existential, so 'absurdist'. It didn't age well. But it is absurd if not absurdist.

Then I found a little Xeroxed (though it may have actually been mimeographed!) booklet called "Offerings 71"--a student publication of writings from the members of Harvard Divinity School. I had two pieces of short fiction in it. "Glad for Gladys" was the first. And then there was this one:


I had hundreds--two shoe boxes full. One shoebox said NUNN-BRUSH on the end. The other said BOSTONIAN. They both said 9 1/2 C on the end, which, though I never thought of it then, must have been my father's shoe size. Not all my little men were soldiers, though most were. I had a few baseball players on little platforms with names on them: Granny Hamner, I remember, and Billy Pierce, and Ray Boone with his glove hand high above his head. And there were bright colored cowboys and brighter colored Indians. A knight or two, with their legs spread for either some sex act or for horses that I didn't have. I didn't have horses for my knights, but I had a statue of George Washington that I found in a cereal box I thought was going to have a little race car in it.

But most were soldiers in various positions of war: throwing grenades, crawling under non-existent bob-wire, shooting from their knee, marching, things like that. They were mostly hard plastic that felt good to bite and so many of my men had at least an arm missing, or a foot, long chewed up and spit out, or else swallowed to keep peas and carrots company in my stomach. My toy soldiers were an all-alone-time toy. I shared them with no one--except my mother. I guess I didn't trust anyone else to know about them, but I would talk about them with my mother for hours it seemed, though I'm sure, looking back, it was only a few minutes each time.

She even remembered their names. I had named them from a box of books I found in the attic. From this perspective in time, I realize they must have been her college books. So their names were Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Will Durant, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Dickens, Shelly and Keats, names like that.

My soldiers never played soldier. I didn't play war much with them because somebody had to die and when they died, I'd have to go to the attic and find and new name for them. That was a lot of trouble and I'd sometimes forget the new name and wouldn't know who I was playing with--so, anyway, war was out.

Sometimes I'd take a piece of clay and shape it like a tiny football and divide my men and play a game of football with them. Clay, if touched with the tip of the tongue, will stick to plastic toy soldiers, just as if they were carrying it and running for a touchdown. Those who were throwing grenades were quarterbacks since they looked as if they could easily be throwing a football instead. Those who were marching were ends because they looked like they were about to break into a Z-out pattern. And those who were crawling under imaginary bob wire could just as easily be trying to crawl under guards and tackles and get the halfback. After every game, I'd talk to my mother--sort of a post-game wrap-up--and tell her what had happened. Slashing Sam Johnson was the leading rusher and Bullet Lord Byron was close behind. She seemed interested in their rivalry, but her favorite was Spinoza. Benedict Spinoza, as they say in the game, 'did it all'. He was quarterback, fullback and middle linebacker. He was the most charismatic of all my men since he stood nearly a sixteenth of an inch taller than any and was carrying a short machine gun--a pose that reminded one of strength, character and leadership. He was made of metal instead of plastic. Instead of being olive green, his uniform was painted brown and his soldier helmet was black. He just stood out.

After a long game on a raining afternoon, she'd ask me, "How did Benny do?" and I would tell her about her hero. Sometimes I even exaggerated--told her he caught a pass when it was really Thomas More. Or I'd make up an interception that belonged instead to George Eliot. But it made her smile to hear of Spinoza's feats, so I didn't thing it mattered to lie a little.

And because she liked him, I liked Benny too. I would carry him around in my pocket and more than once he went through the washing machine so the barrel of his machine gun broke off and the flesh colored paint on his face got chipped off. Once, I remember, I thought he was gone forever. He wasn't in my pocket when I got home from playing tag with Herbie Lowman and Billy Michaels. I finally got up the nerve to tell my mother and then burst into tears, thinking she would be angry that I lost her favorite. But the next day he was on my dresser and she claimed no knowledge of how he got there though I heard my father ask her why Mrs. Lowman had seen her in the vacant lot on her hands and knees. My mother said, 'Shhh!', which she said a lot when she wanted to wait until they were in bed at night to talk about something. I could hear them whispering through the wall and many was the night that their soft music put me to sleep.

But the whole point to all this is that when I got the call to come home from college and they told me what had happened, I just had to be alone, away from all the neighbors and relatives downstairs. Before I knew it, I was up in the little attic, sitting on the floor in the dark. I moved to lay down and my hand touched a shoe box. I turned on the 40 watt light and sat for a long time, taking each man out and looking at him, trying to remember his name, trying to remember something we had done together.

Suddenly, paint-chipped but still strong, Benny was in my hand. I didn't remember a lot after that, but I know when my cousin Lizzy embraced me after the funeral, she felt something in my shirt pocket and it was Spinoza. I suppose I had somehow thought he would want to say good-bye too. And I guess he did, in his own way. I wonder if she ever thought of him after I quit playing with them, if she ever explained why she was in the vacant on all fours, if my father understood, if they shared that in their whispers?


Memories are odd things--wispy, wraith-like, shadowy creatures of the cracks and convolutions of the mind.

I sometimes tell people that if Bern wasn't around I wouldn't remember anything.

Other times I say, "If it weren't for faulty memory, I'd have no memory at all...."

Yet other times some ghostly image or sound comes into consciousness for no discernible reason at all. Like this morning. Walking downstairs to have breakfast, suddenly, out of nowhere, came this song:
"Would you like to swing on a star,
Carry moonbeams home in a jar,
And be better off than you are,
Or would you rather be a pig?
A pig is an animal with dirt on its face
Ta-da--da--da--da-da-da ta"

That's where memory fails. So all morning I've been trying to remember the rest of the song, who performed it, when it came from....Don't bother telling me I could Google it. I know, I know.

One of the things that is good about the internet is being able to find the poem that one remembered couplet came from...the capitol of some obscure country...the Latin name for Primrose--stuff like that. But sometimes, it seems to me at any rate, it is instructive to merely ponder lost memories, see if you can tease or entice them out of their hiding place in the unconscious mind, be bothered by not being able to remember....

(Isn't it amazing how "Google"--the name of a company--a noun--has become a verb. "Google it", we say all the time.

Several years ago WVU had a basketball player named Potsnagle--something like that, I don't remember exactly. He was a 6'11" center. But he was also a wonderful three point shooter. He would slip out of the post to above the foul line, take a pass and drop in a long jump shot. The announcer on TV would say, "Villanova's been Potsnagled..."

That and 'googled' are my two favorite nouns misused.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Seminary final paper

Ok, another gem from the treasure trove of old writings Bern found.

This one is a 'gem' because it shows what a arrogant, self-serving, know-it-all jerk I was in seminary. It is, fortunately, the only seminary paper in the archive because if I was thinking and writing like this back then, I simply want no evidence available.

The Title of this final paper is "STANDING UNDER/TWICE BEYOND (an experiencing of Daly and Skinner)".

What a pretentious title!

I wrote it for David Scott, an Ethics professor and one of the most conservative members of the faculty. (Back when I was at Virginia Seminary, the student body was much more liberal than the faculty and we weren't all that liberal. So to say Dr. Scott was 'one of the most conservative' makes him quite conservative. The last time I was down at VTS, six or seven years ago, the Dean told me the Faculty--people my age--were more liberal than the student body. Go figure.)

Anyway, what I want to share about this paper, which was a discussion of Mary Daly, the feminist theologian and B.F. Skinner, the behaviorist psychologist (I have no idea any more what I was thinking when I wrote this. We must have read Skinner and Daly in the class, I guess.)

What I want to share with you was a footnote I wrote about the sentence: "But this is an attempt to understand.*" Seems harmless enough, right? But this is the footnote I wrote.

"The roots of my thinking about what is involved in 'understanding' and much of what I say about 'the Other' from a Christian perspective come from the memory of a class called "A Christian looks at other men's (sic) religiosity" at Harvard in the fall of 1970 by the Rev. Dr. R. Panikkar, a Hindu and a Christian.
The following discussion of 'understanding'--to laborious to put in the body of this paper--depends to a great extent of my memory of how Dr. Panikkar analysed the word."

OK, I've already demonstrated my acute 'political correctness by putting the (sic) after 'men's' in this footnote. I've also alluded to my powers of intellect by warning Dr. Scott that this 'discussion' is 'laborious'--i.e. very scholarly and too complicated to comprehend by people not as brilliant as Dr. Scott and ME. And, honestly, to refer to "the roots of my thinking" is beyond forgiving and unintelligible to boot. But, back to the footnote. I shall return.

"I understand. I understand myself. I have self-understanding. The self I understand is the I.
When I say what I mean...what I mean to say is.... Meaning and saying are different. There is a meaning/saying dichotomy implicit in the sentence above. And, on consideration, it is obvious that I cannot say what I mean because meaning is not saying. But through my saying you can 'understand' what I mean--the meaning of my saying--if my saying reveals to you the presupposition in which my meaning is contained.
We under-stand by pre-sup(b)-posing--by being under the position of the Other's position. In a real way, to under-stand the Other we must share the Other's position.
But if the Other is 'totally Other'--that is, does not share the presuppositions which allow understanding to occur, in the saying of the meaning--we must seek another method of encounter. Such is always the case when a Christian seeks to under-stand a non-Christian. The two do not 'stand' in the same place so that 'under' where the Christian 'stands' is not the same place as 'under' where the non-Christian 'stands'. In order to under-stand, then, we must get under-understanding and seek to transend the saying and the meaning to find 'the un-understandable place...the ground where we meet. Under-standing necessitates making an existential encounter possible by risking our own 'standing-place' to meet the Other under where he stands. That is, to meet the Other as he meets himself. That is, to BE the Other as we are ourselves. Only then, by a merging of beings, do we know the Other."


I must have gotten a lot less brilliant in the 40 years since I wrote that. Or maybe Bob Dylan was right: "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now...."

David Scott, when I went to him with an independent study project--another way of saying, "I don't want to go to class"--about "The Theology of Kurt Vonnegut" agreed to let me do it and even read five of Vonnegut's books (who David had never heard of before) and took my forty page paper on that and gave me credits to graduate. I never told him five other professors had turned down the proposal, not because they'd never heard of Kurt Vonnegut, but because they thought it was a stupid idea.

That self-same Dr. David Scott gave me an A on the Skinner/Daly paper, which was, I must implore you to realize, was all as bad as that unforgivable footnote. I had a sense of something that might be interesting but I was too self-aggrandizing, too know it all to write it in some way that might make a difference to someone reading it. What a jerk I was.

Perhaps growing older is a process of 'unknowing', of leaving behind our so misplaced ideas that we are somehow smarter, more insightful, more complex, more ironic than the rest of the Human population. Perhaps growing older is coming to grips in a way that matters with the reality that 'folks are folks' and being a tree in the forest is truly good enough, good enough, better than good enough, about the best it can be.

Ponder that. I wish you would find a paper you wrote in college or grad school so you could realize what a prig you were then and then embrace what a joy you are now....

That's what I wish.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Walking Melvin home

I found another poem in the archival stash Bern found in a drawer. This one I wrote when I was in college. One night, after a movie, a friend and I discovered a little boy who had was at the movie alone. We bought him ice cream and walked him home.


The line at the ice-cream stand
was long and very adult
and Melvin showed off.
But when my friend asked him
what was the most important
thing in the world,
he only answered--

The chocolate stuck to his mouth
and he was our leader:
"a little child shall lead".
And then he said you should
always be nice and sweet
to girls for if you weren't
sure to be they might
hit you.

His mother probably couldn't
make it to the theater
at ten o'clock, he said.
Or maybe she forgot the time.
So she didn't meet her little boy
who was seven years old
and walking home alone
except for

But when she met us on the street
near their apartment
going the other way
and when she only stopped long enough
to kiss him right on
his chocolate mouth
and didn't ask who we were,
we knew.

And bad words and drinking
according to Melvin
will make the Devil
get you
even though his parents
did it a lot
before daddy left
and took Melvin's
brother and left behind

And he said good-by three times
and even kissed my friend
and left us alone
on the sidewalk.
And I can't help thinking about Melvin
and Jesus and girls
and chocolate ice cream
and a mother who passed
her son at night
with two strangers and only

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day

I remember Bill. He was not the first person I knew who died from AIDS, but it is him I remember.

Bill grew up just outside of Prospect, CT and when he could he fled, going to the west coast and getting involved in movie work.

He was as gay as the day is long in mid-summer. And, he got AIDS.

His sister got it all wrong (she was a nurse I came to love as I loved Bill, but she got it wrong).

She thought he had died of AIDS, but when he showed up, fully alive and in Connecticut, she had to take back what she told people.

He started coming to St. John's. He had helpers since his disease was taking a toll on him. Jim and Lou were his helpers. They're both dead now, but not from AIDS. They were lovers from high school on, back when it was the 'love that dare not speak its name". They never had sex with anyone but each other. No AIDS for them.

At first they dropped Bill off in the parking lot and went for breakfast. Later they walked him inside and waited in the hallway for the Eucharist to end. Finally, when he needed more help, they started coming to church with him and became members until they died--Jim first, then Lou.

Evangelism, St. John's way....

Bill was so sophisticated and kind and sweet that all the older women of the parish adopted him as their son. And he was glad to be so adopted. He worried and fretted about them, called them constantly, gave back the affection they gave to him two fold.

I once asked him to speak on AIDS Sunday. I kept waiting for him to give me what he was going to say and he never did. When he got in the pulpit he said something like this: "I have AIDS and am dying slowly. But I want to clear some things up. You can't catch my disease by sharing the communion cup. You can't catch it by hugging me. You can't catch it by kissing me. We could have sex in the right way and you wouldn't catch it...."

At that point I nearly fainted.

He went on, "But I don't want to have sex with you or anybody. I just want you to know I'm safe and won't kill you and that I love you. Abide with me and I will abide with you."

I wept, so did most of the people there. What a gift he gave us. What wisdom, what Gospel he taught us.

When he finally died, it was difficult and drawn out. I'd go see him at the Hospice in Branford and beg him to die. I think he wanted to but just couldn't, not without a knock down, dragged out fight with Death.

At his funeral some friend of his were upstairs fulfilling his wishes. He wanted a little of his ashes put inside each of the white helium balloons that we would release at the end of the Eucharist.

I think he probably knew how difficult it would be to put ashes in balloons. When I went up to check, Bill was scattered all over the room and his friends were both exasperated and laughing like idiots.

"This is his last joke," one of them said, dropping Bill all over the table, the rug, into the ether.

When we released the balloons, the ashes held them down. They floated against the parish house and then rested on the roof for a long time.

We all laughed. He had taught us irony. He had taught us humor. He had taught us to laugh at the ridiculous and painful realities of life.

I love him still.

going with the dogs

Bern and I went to Ikea and bought a new bed for one of our guest rooms. Bern, as always, is rearranging our house, our space, our lives.

In that room there was a large, two-drawer chest that came with us from Charleston to New Haven to Cheshire. Bern found all this stuff I wrote some 40 years ago in it. I'm still sifting through the stuff and realize a lot of it is melodramatic and lame. But I've come across some gems.

This poem I wrote, probably as a Sophomore in college after a visit home at Easter and a conversation with a high school friend who went into the coal mines after high school. He told me about his beagle's litter of pups and how he loved them so. They kept three of the six, selling the others to people they knew. My friend, unlike me, was an avid hunter. But his story about the puppies moved me to write this poem. It had no title then but I now call it "Going with the dogs"

I must now go down and see the swollen stream
and watch the waters rush down and down again.
And I'll loose my dogs--the three of them
and watch them run free as I sit on
the hilly knoll and look down to the thicket
and then to the swollen stream.

Perhaps there will be ants in the grass
and I will watch them too,
and dread the day that comes so surely
when the dogs will be hunters and their eyes will change.

For now they are like the swollen stream,
like Spring rain, like the grass--
free and wild and in their eyes I see no fear.

But the day comes surely when the older dogs
will teach them to be hunters
and their eyes will change.

That is the worst thing about the world--
the eyes. The eyes must change--
they must see life and hold tears
and be full of fear.

But today, the day that comes surely is not yet.
So I shall look at the swollen stream
and hide my eyes from the dogs as they play
for my eyes have changed already
and have had tears
and are afraid.

Monday, November 29, 2010

ADVENT--the last time I promise

OK, here's the deal. What I typed was in the shape of an X.

The upper left arm said, reading downward, STOP
The upper right arm said, reading downward toward the middle, LOOK
The bottom left arm said, reading downward and outward AND
The bottom right arm said, reading downward and to the right LISTEN

The post was a miscarriage of all that. I don't know why. I can't fix it.

It is a sign of my commitment to sharing my ponderings to whoever the hell reads them that I do this at all, given the aggravation and annoyance it gives me!!!!

I hate the internet and all it contains. But since it exists in spite of my hatred, I'll keep writing. OK?

Advent (one more time...)

{OK, I'm going to try to recreate my earlier blog that I destroyed somehow. You'd think I'd know how to do this, given I've been doing it for several years. But I hit the wrong key sometimes and send stuff into 'the cloud', never to be heard from again. I also hit 'return' instead of 'tab' from time to time which posts blogs with only the title. Forgive....And, by the way, the time of posting on my blog has me in some time zone off the coast of California. I'm beginning this at 9:39 p.m. EST, so ignore what it says about when I wrote it.
Also, I decided to try to do this tonight instead of tomorrow since my short term memory has an expiration of about 15 hours. Ask me what I preached about on Sunday evening and I can reproduce it almost verbatim. But ask me on Monday and I'll say, "Uh, what were the lessons?"}

One thing I love about Advent is that it is about seeking the light in the gathering and deepening darkness. Days are getting shorter and shorter when Advent begins and we are called by the Prophets and the liturgy to 'look for the light'. That seems to me to be a lot like life--always looking for light in the darkness. Advent is quintessentially optimistic, just as I am. So, in loving it, I am affirming my own world view and philosophy.

I don't know how it works in the Southern Hemisphere since all the Church Year seasons would be reversed. Imagine Easter, not in Spring when all is coming to life, but in Autumn as things die. And Advent and Christmas would be in Spring moving toward summer in the Global South. The metaphors don't work south of the equator. Maybe that's one reason that Global South Anglicans and Anglicans in the Northern Hemisphere are always at odds. That's just a thought to ponder. Metaphor is important. Symbols matter. I can't conceive of Advent when it is getting lighter and lighter and warmer and warmer.

Christmas falls, in the Gregorian calendar, three of four days after the Winter Solstice. So, in fact, days are getting shorter and nights longer right up to the week of Christmas. But here's something to ponder: in the Julian Calendar--the one Julius Caesar commanded be observed--the solstice fell always on December 25. So the night of Christmas Eve was the longest night of the year and Christmas began the coming of the light.

It wasn't until Pope Gregory XIII changed the calendar of the western world in 1582 that the Solstice was backed up 3 or 4 days to correspond to the actual tilt of the earth. So, for 1581 of the 2010 years of the Common Era, Christians celebrated the birth of the baby Jesus on the solstice. Talk about metaphor and symbol and the lengthening of the Light!

Back where I come from, in a place more rural and mountainous than most people can imagine, railroad tracks were like kudzu, they were omnipresent, every where. Wherever there was a coal mine, their were railroad tracks for the coal trains to take it to Pittsburgh for steel or to Roanoke and Cincinnati for Electricity. And it is hard for even me to remember how narrow and twisted the valleys were between the mountains.

Where Bern, my wife, grew up, for example, this is what it looked like:

Try to picture that--two rows of houses, a pitifully narrow two lane road, two alleys and a stream pinched between two mountains. From one mountain to the other in Gary #9 (Filbert was the post office) was about 50 yards. Imagine living in a valley that narrow and deep.

So, because the valleys also curved around to accommodate the mountains, the railroad tracks crossed the road over and over. At every railroad crossing there was a sign in the shape of an X. On the four arms was written

      LOOK      AND

That was because the trains were going rather fast (to get the coal somewhere else asap) and the roads were so twisty and the mountains so intrusive that you really needed to stop, look as far as you could, and listen to hear the train whistle that was blown each time the tracks crossed a road.

You'd be amazed, I think, at how many cars got hit by trains, even with those warning signs.

Advent is like that X shaped sign for us.

STOP in the busiest time of the year to seek the Light.

LOOK for God in the hustle and bustle of the holiday time around you.

LISTEN for the Angel wings and Angel songs over the chaos and chatter and babble of the malls and the TV and the radio.

Advent is meant to 'slow us down' just when the culture is hurrying us up.

Advent is meant to have us more attentive just when the culture is most distracting.

Advent is meant to attune our senses to the presence of God in places unexpected, surprising, thought impossible.

That's what I like about Advent--it is so terribly counter-cultural. It's like standing on tip-toe, anticipating light in the deepest darkness of all.


OK, I spent about an hour writing a post about Advent. It was, I must say, well worth reading.

But something went wrong and it didn't post.

I promise you to try to recreate it tomorrow, but I can't tonight because I'm so disappointed, confused and pissed that it went wrong.

Did I ever tell you I HATE THE INTERNET?

Even as I use it, I hate it. I haven't added it up yet, but I think there is more wrong than right about the whole thing....

Maybe I'll write a post about that and find that somehow it got screwed up.....

A Promise

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Today is the first day of the Christian year--the first Sunday of Advent.

I went to St. Peter's today--my parish church. A very good service...the music is excellent, the preaching is above good. Since Advent is my favorite season of the year, that's important to me to have music and preaching. The sacrament...well, it just happens however it happens.

I'm up too late and will write more tomorrow about Advent.

I plan to deal with the whole Winter Solstice thing and the images of Advent and my own metaphor for the season.

Tune in tomorrow after I get some rest.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Comfort Food

Every Thanksgiving Bern gives people who come to dinner little presents. This year she got most of it at the Consignment Shop, I think. Mine was great--the Velveeta Cookbook!

I'm not sure Bern has ever tasted Velveeta, having grown up in an ethnic family. But in my childhood, Velveeta qualified as a food group....

I read through the book thinking it must be from the 1950's but when I checked, it was published in 2001! People must still eat Velveeta somewhere.

Each and every recipe began with "Cut a pound of Velveeta into cubes...." A pound of it! Amazing!

My favorite recipe used, you guessed it, a pound of Velveeta. But it began with a pound of chicken breasts cut into strips ("cut the chicken while partially frozen and then return to the refrigerator to completely thawed....) This recipe also includes broccoli--frozen Broccoli but broccoli none the less. Sounds like a promisingly healthy recipe, right? But get this, you saute the chicken in a cup of Miracle Whip! Really, I wouldn't make this up.

Sauteed in Miracle Whip you add the frozen broccoli and cover to cook the broccoli. Then you add the cubes of Velveeta and stir until it melts. Serve the whole thing over egg noodles.

And that is the most healthy recipe in the whole book.

I'm trying to invent a recipe that combines Velveeta and sausage gravy over biscuits with home fries or grits on the side. That's comfort food with a capital COMFORT.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

fallacy of the undetermined result....

The three granddaughters are here along with Cathy, their mom. Josh is coming in on the 10:30 p.m. train from baltimore. Tomorrow Mimi and Tim arrive. The brood returning to the nest. O, Lord, I love Thanksgiving....

The plan, to avoid the great traffic problems, was for Josh and Cathy and the girls and the dog to come up today. But Josh had to work (lawyer stuff--who can comprehend such things? So Cathy was coming anyway with the dog and three girls (2 are 4 and one is, well, one). I thought that was crazy. I had all sorts of nightmares about scenario's on the New Jersey Turnpike, for example, of barfing dog, screaming baby, out of control twins and Cathy alone in some kind of Honda van with all that driving 75.

So I went down on the train yesterday to ride back to CT with them.

And here's the truth. The ride we had--dog, girls, the whole thing--Cathy could have done that alone, I must admit.

That's where the fallacy of the undetermined result comes in.

The Fallacy of the Undetermined Result make immediate sense in sporting events.

A runner is on first and the next batter hits into a double play. The next batter after that hits a home run and we think, "if that guy hadn't hit into a double play it would have been a three run home run."

Well, no. Everything would have been different if what happened hadn't happened.

Life is a series of accidents that are meaningful but not determinative. What 'didn't happen' doesn't determine 'what happens next'. What Happened contributes to what Happens Next.

So, the guy didn't hit into a double play but walked. First and second, no one out. The pitcher bears down and strikes out the guy who (in reality) hit the home run because everything is different because the player didn't hit into a double play. Think about it: "If we'd left a hour earlier we would have missed the traffic jam that backed us up for 90 minutes...."

Well, if you'd left an hour sooner, that tractor trailer might have crashed into you at exit 7 and you'd be dead.

The Fallacy of the undetermined result is a valuable thing to ponder.

What it eliminates, if you ponder hard enough, is all 'regret'. If you hadn't done the thing you 'regret' you imagine things would have turned out all different and all right. But, here's the Fallacy to that, if you hadn't done the thing you 'regret' something all together, never anticipated and totally different than what you imagine would have happened.

I want to write more about this but I've been in a car for 5 hours with 3 kids and in a house with 3 kids, two dogs and two women for 5 more hours. I can't cope.

AND, if that all hadn't happened, what I'd be doing now would be so enormously different from what I'm doing now that the "Fallacy of the Undetermined Result" must be true and needs to be pondered and pondered deeply.

Find a Castor Oil Tree and Ponder. OK?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

full moon

The moon is full and surrounded by fog.

I walked my dog a bit ago and he seemed hyper-alert, moving his head, stopping to stare, suddenly changing direction.

The full moon in Cheshire is one thing--in Waterbury it was another.

We could tell for several days that the moon was coming full. Folks who were on the edge were even edgier. Folks over the edge were outright lunatics.

Working in a city church convinced me forever and without a doubt that it isn't just the tides the moon pulls. It pulls emotions too, and mightily.

I actually miss the craziness of full moon at St. John's.

Now only my dog and me are looney....

good Sunday

I've gotten over my upset about the Anglican Covenant until the next time it comes up!

I went to Northford today to do church. It's a great little congregation, part of the Middlesex Cluster. There was a baptism. I love baptisms.

Afterwards someone said, "I liked how you told us what you were doing as you went along...."

I honestly didn't remember doing that but as I think back it was a kind of 'instructed baptism'.

The little girl was Emma, same name as one of my granddaughters, so I loved her already.

There was a need organist and we did "Amazing Grace" and "Shall we gather by the River". Couldn't get better than that.

There were 43 people there--looking back in the service book, that was a big crowd.

I worry about the church. Little churches like this are on the edge financially, even with the Cluster to hold them together. Actually, churches a tier or two higher than St. Andrew's are in trouble. I have a friend who is retiring because his parish wants a half-time priest.

Pray for the church.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Real Instruments of Unity

I have a suggestion to the Anglican Covenant folks: Let's replace the Four Instruments of Unity (99.033% of which are bishops) with Four that make sense for a loosely confederated world wide Body like the Anglican Communion.

The first three have been around since Richard Hooker, the greatest Anglican theologian.

1. Scripture
2. Tradition
3. Reason

Those have always been the tools of unity in the Anglican Church. They bind us together in a way human beings cannot. Each one of the 'legs' of that 'three legged stool' contribute to and provide checks and balances to, not only the Communion as a whole, but to each Province within the church and each individual member of each Province.

Scripture is basic, read in the context of tradition and reasonableness. Tradition is priceless, so long as it is held up to the light of Scripture and the scrutiny of Reason. Reason allows for diversity--since 'reason' dictates different things in different contexts and cultures--so long as Reason does not leave behind the checks and balances of Scripture and Tradition. Each of the three is meant not only to 'check' the other two but to be formed in the insights and truths of the other two.

I'd add a fourth Instrument of Unity for Anglicans. I'd call it Experience/Imagination.

The forge of Experience should be held accountable to Scripture/Reason/Tradition, however, the experience of Anglicans in different cultures is different. So, what can be 'imagined' as possible within the disciplines of Tradition/Scripture/Reason might differ from culture to culture in greater and lesser ways.

Take, for example, the issue that provoked the Covenant process to begin with--Human Sexuality. The common understanding of the nature of human sexuality within the Western World and those Anglican churches solidly inside that culture, is much different that what that understanding might be in Nigeria or Columbia or South-east Asia. Just as, culturally, people of faith do not agree on the role of women in the church, there is even less agreement on the full inclusion of GLBT folks.

However, just as the experience and imagination of some Provinces of the Communion has allowed for the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate, the experience and imagination of other Provinces does not, at this time, allow for that step to be taken. In both cases, I would argue that either All People are fully Children of God or our experience and imagination has not yet allowed for that truth to be reasonable, in keeping with traditions and consistent with the reasonable understanding of scripture. But there is the reality that cultures are different and so are cultural experiences and the imagination possible in each culture.

So, we need instruments of unity that allow for vast diversity. Otherwise cultural situations where the full inclusion of women and GLBT folks in the life and governance of the church are held hostage to those cultures where such inclusion is not possible at this time. Jesus came to bring abundance of life not enforced restrictions on that abundance.

I'd settle for the first three as the official Instruments of Unity for Anglicans, but I'd lobby for the inclusion of the fourth.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Four Instruments of Anglican Unity

In the third section of the proposed Anglican Covenant that the 2012 General Convention of the Episcopal Church will debate and vote on the Four Instruments of Anglican Unity are listed. (I'm not sure if they are 'musical' instruments or 'surgical' instruments or instruments of mass destruction--it isn't clear.)

Here they are, in the order they are listed:

I. The Archbishop of Canterbury (first among equals) who presides over the other three, giving the AofC influence and parliamentary power of all the Instruments.

II. The Lambeth Conference--a meeting every decade to which ALL the bishops of the Communion are invited (Unless you are gay, and since the vast majority of Anglican churches do not ordain women as bishops, women are in coach while the men are in First Class).

III. The Anglican Consultative Council: made up of one Bishop, one Priest and one Lay Person from each of the 39 Provinces.

IV. The Primates' Meeting: the 39 Archbishops or Presiding Bishops (Boss Bishops) of the 39 Provinces.

Let's see how those Four Instruments represent the make up of the Anglican Communion.

AofC--1 bishop

Lambeth Conference--Since there are over 200 bishops in the American Church alone, lets estimate 1000 bishops (an underestimation, I assure you!)

Anglican Consultative Council--39 bishops, 39 priests, 39 lay folk

The Primates' Meeting--39 more bishops (boss bishops)

So, how does that add up? The 4 instruments of our unity as Anglicans is 1079 bishops, 39 priests and 39 lay people.

Huh, isn't that remarkable since there are a hundred times more priests than bishops and thousand of times more lay folk than priests.

In the Episcopal Church, their are just over 100 dioceses. CT has 3 bishops, most have only one. lets say 200 active bishops. There are 7-9,000 active Episcopal priests and, wow, about 2,000,000 lay folk. And what were those numbers for the instruments of unity again: 39 lay folks, 39 priests and 1079 bishops, at least. I guess that seems about right to adequately represent the make up of Anglicanism....Or, maybe not....

Maybe we Americans are just too conscious of democratic ideals. The fact that we elect Rectors and Bishops and the Presiding Bishop is just too backward and too liberated for the Anglican Communion.

I for one AM NOT fully represented in the Four Instruments of Unity. I would find it astonishing and profoundly hypocritical for the Episcopal Church to agree to live under Four Instruments that deny our polity so profoundly. One of the thing that most of the Communion's bishops just don't understand is why the American bishops can't just decide things. It is unthinkable in much of the Anglican Communion that bishops would be limited by having to have "agreement" from the House of Deputies (4 clergy and 4 lay from each Diocese) before something can be agreed to.

In my mind, because of our particular--and in the AC, "peculiar" polity--we are already on the edges of the AC.

But for this hyper-democratic church to give over control of unity to 4 Instruments that consign the % of representation for priests and laity to 0.067% while bishops make up 99.033% of the Instruments is truly unthinkable.

Who thinks that's a good idea besides the people who wrote the Covenant?

Beats me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"pretend that...."

We just got back from three days in Baltimore with our son and daughter-in-law, Josh and Cathy, and our three grandaughters--Morgan and Emma (4) and Tegan (1). For some 36 hours (while J and C went to a party at Josh's law firm and a wedding in New York overnight) it was just Bern and I with the 3 girls.

A reason people have children when they are young--they exhaust people my age!

But the time with the girls was wonderful, astonishing, without melt down or incident. Josh and Cathy don't quite believe, I don't think, how pacific the time was for us--our little tribe of 5 with a combined age of 132 (123 of those years being Bern and me).

(An unrelated but connected aside--whenever we leave our dog at the Kennel--Holiday Hills in Wallingford, I give it 5 stars, they tell us he is a great dog with no problems. But our experience of him is that he is a bad dog we love anyway. Same with the reports we got on Josh and Mimi from grandparents, teachers, their friends' parents--Who Are Those kids they told us about??? It's a rule of the universe that children, put into an unfamiliar situation, will behave in ways they never do with their parents. Go figure.)

Bern and I come at the girls from two very different world views and understandings. Bern was, for 14 years, the coordinator of The Childrens Day Care, a cooperative center in New Haven. The parents of the children were the care givers and Bern was the only paid staff. So she has met 4 year old children over and over and over. Her insights into the 4 year old behavior that befuddles and confuses me are remarkable. Bern knows kids.

Besides my own children, over 30 years ago, I've only had a passing acquaintance with 4 year olds or 1 year old kids.

So Bern interacts and plays and invents and engages. I mostly keep them safe and observe.

(I must admit how joyous I am that Tegan, who says only a handful of words, would yell 'Gan Pu' whenever I came back into the room and run and hug my knees. Heaven, that's what that was like....)

So, the point to all this is that I took Morgan and Emma to the top floor of Josh and Cathy's 4 story town house to play with their wondrous doll house and other things while Bern saw to Tegan and cooked. We were there for less than an hour and I mostly 'observed'.

What I observed was that for almost all that time either Morgan or Emma would say 'Pretend that....' (whatever), and they would play out what they pretended.

Their pretending was open and fluid and remarkably changeable. They play "pretend that I'm a baby and you're the Mommy" a lot and in an instant, introduced by one of them saying "Pretend That..." the roles can change.

When they disagreed on what to 'pretend that...." they found a third 'pretend that' which both could live into...'pretend into'?

They played seamlessly for maybe 45 minutes with a few props and the almost constant prompting of one of the other of them changing the flow of the game by saying "Pretend That..."

I was astonished and confounded and deeply moved.

Here's what I thought: why can't we grown up people be like Morgan and Emma and "pretend that..." and make that real just be agreeing to "pretend" it.

What if you and I would say:

"Pretend that everybody is God's child..." and lived out of that.

What if you and I would say:

"Pretend that those who are poor should be given what they need..." and lived out of that.

What if you and I would say:

"Pretend that people of different Faiths don't need to be enemies...." and lived out of that.

What if you and I would say:

"Pretend that someone's sexual orientation or gender identification doesn't matter, doesn't matter at all...." and lived out of that.

What if you and I would say:

"Pretend that those people who annoy and anger you are really part of your family and your friends..." and lived out of that.

I could keep doing "What if" and "Pretend that" for a long time.

But what if, you and I, would ponder the immense and extraordinary possibilities that "pretending" would create if we were only willing to play the game and "pretend".

(Kurt Vonnegut, my favorite writer, once wrote: "Be careful who you pretend to be because you might just turn out to be who you pretend to be...."

Ponder and imagine the power of 'pretending' to transform, not only our lives, but the world we live in.....

"Let's pretend...."


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

my hat

I have this hat that my brother in law gave me more than a year ago.

It's dominant color is between yellow and gold but it has ear flaps and tassels at the end that have that tawny color and brown and white. The same fringe goes around the top from ear to ear and their are two ears--brown--that make the hat look something or other like a young lion.

I love it. If I knew how I'd send you a picture of it with my words. But I don't know how to do that. I am, still, a computer novice.

But when I wear it people are smiley and kind and engage me in conversation.

I told Bern that I've met a lot of friendly people in the past few weeks.

"It's the hat," she said since I had it on inside, just as I am wearing it as I write this.

It looks a bit like a Sherpa hat but more like the hats they wear in Peru.

It was made in Peru, wherever my brother in law found it.

The tag says so.

The tag also says that it is 'Virgin Acrylic', which seems odd to me. Does that mean it is made from an artificial fabric that has never had sex?

But it does get smiles and comments and causes people to be friendlier than ordinary.

Maybe we should all wear strange hats. Perhaps it would make for a friendlier world. Imagine President Obama in a hat like mine talking to John Baynor who is wearing a hat that makes him look like a Giant Panda. Things might be better and get done.

Who knows, something to ponder.

Find a weird, whimsical hat and wear it for a while. I think you'll be convinced that what is missing from the world is odd hats.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Truth that dares not say its name...

Let's get this out of the way.

The whole Anglican Communion mess is a conflict between the mostly European Provinces of the Anglican Communion--the Episcopal Church, the Church of Canada, the Australian Church, the Church in Europe, the New Zealand Church and the majority of the Church of England VS the Churches of the Developing World--Africa, South American, Asia.

It is, in the bottom line of it all, a dispute between mostly white, European Anglicans and those people of color who are part of that culture, and the People of Color of the rest of the Anglican Communion.

Collective, white guilt makes those of us in the Developed World feel that we can no longer be Colonial about the poor, people of color that are the majority of the Anglican Communion in numbers.

Get over it! This isn't a conflict of 'colonialism'. It is a conflict of Culture. And it is obviously and painfully True that the minority "European" Anglican churches live and move and have their being in a drastically different culture than the rest of Anglicans in the Global South.

I am sick, almost to death, of having to acknowledge and respect the realities of the cultures of the Global South without having them return the favor and 'acknowledge and respect' the realities of the European based churches.

I acknowledge and respect the cultures of the parts of the Anglican Communion that abhor and exclude GLBT folks. I think they are wrong, but since I come from a different culture and paradigm, I do not judge them.

So, I simply ask Anglicans from other cultures and world views to return the favor--STOP JUDGING US.

Am I crazy to think that is the obvious way to relate to each other and be 'in communion'--not judging each other as we gather around the table and seek to live into the Mission of God?

Am I crazy or what?

the Anglican

At the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2012 in Indianapolis, the deputies and bishops will be asked to decide whether to sign the Anglican Covenant.

The Anglican Covenant is the result of further work after the Windsor Report, which came out after Gene Robinson was elected and consecrated as Bishop of New Hampshire. Wouldn't you know it, some place as isolated and, in the scheme of things, as insignificant as the Diocese of New Hampshire, would cause a tidal wave of concerns, anger and angst within the far-flung Anglican Communion.

Gene is a gay, partnered man. Gay Bishops are a dime a dozen in the Anglican Communion. But Gene was bold, honest and authentic enough to let it be known he was a gay man in a committed relationship. Sounds like the right thing to do, right?

But no. The Windsor Report and the resultant Anglican Covenant was all in response to the fair and democratic election of a great priest to be the bishop of New Hampshire. (Tiny things, in life, cause huge responses.)

Anyway, the Episcopal Church is faced with saying yes or no to this Anglican Covenant.

Honestly, 75 percent of the stuff in the first three sections of the covenant consists simply of stuff most every Anglican in the world agrees on--the Creeds, the Trinity, the Archbishop of Canterbury being 'first among equals', the autonomy of each of the 39 churches that make up the Communion, stuff about the Eucharist and independence of the various churches to make their own decisions.

So, if we all agree about that stuff already, WHY WRITE IT DOWN?

My wife and I agree on even more of life than that--90% or more. And it has never occurred to us to 'write down' what we agree on.

The rest, the stuff we don't agree on, 7% or so, is simply worked out day by day, week by week, year by year between us. Sometimes we reach a compromise. Sometimes we don't. Be we remain 'in communion' even when we don't agree at all.

The 4th section of the Anglican Covenant--look it up, you can Google it--is so dramatically Un-Anglican and non-democratic and anti-autonomous that it would be laughable if there wasn't a lobby that wanted it to be agreed to.

That 4th section violates with violence everything that comes before and sets up a process to deal with 'disagreements' between churches. (For 'disagreements' read 'how to deal with GLBT folks'--like not making them bishops.)

Gene Robinson, a duly elected, validly consecrated bishop of the Anglican Communion was not invited to the Lambeth Conference--the every 10 year meeting of all bishops in the Communion. I guess the Archbishop of Canterbury ran out of printed invitations. Something like that. Why else on earth would he neglect to invite a valid bishop of the clan?

Oh, because large and bullish members of the Communion in Africa and other parts of the developing world are frailty scared of gay folks who are honest about being gay folks since they are Biblical fundamentalist and don't think gay folks are 'children of God'. God help them.

The 4th section of the Anglican Covenant is a way to either discipline or exclude the American and Canadian Churches from the Communion since those two churches are dealing honestly and compassionately with Gay folks. (Not compassionately or honestly in CT to allow priests to follow civil law and sign the marriage licences of same sex couples who, legally, can marry in CT.)

It's all a nightmare. Goggle and read people more reasonable and logical that me.

The Anglican Covenant is neither 'Anglican' nor an honest, relational 'Covenant', so far as I can see.

Anglican Covenant, NO! Autonomy for the Episcopal Church, SI!

More about all this later....

Monday, November 8, 2010

mislabling and the Bible

I went to buy cranberry juice at the Stop and Shop. And, as I've done before, I bought a 'blend' that has apple juice, white grape juice and pomegranate juice as well as the cranberry juice I thought I was buying. It said, on the label, "100% juice" and in the small print happened to mention that the "100%" meant 'juice', not 'cranberry juice'. I'm taking it back tomorrow.

I'm a fanatic about cranberry juice since I had a urinary tract infection in September that nearly made me crazy. And it is almost impossible to distinguish between "100%" cranberry juice and lots of other kinds of juice that contains, in some amount, cranberry juice. I feel like an idiot but Bern has made the same mistake so I don't feel like an idiot since she certainly isn't.

Where the Bible comes in isn't about the cranberry juice, it's about dogs eating their own vomit.

That's somewhere in the Bible--the psalms, I think. You could google it: dogs eating vomit + the Bible.

Our dog Bela ate his breakfast and threw it up 10 minutes later in the dining room. Before I could clean it up, he ate it.

Then, an hour later, we were out on the porch having a cigarette, at least I was, Bela doesn't smoke so far as I know. He doesn't have a thumb to work a lighter or light a match or turn on the stove and the cigarettes are never where he could get to them. So, I think I'm safe in saying I was the one smoking a cigarette. Anyway, Bela was laying at my feet and jumped up and ran out into the back yard and threw up the vomit he had eaten of his breakfast. He did that crazy thing with his snout, covering up the vomit with snow and leaves. Then came back like nothing had happened.

I was worried, as I always am about this awful Puli dog, that he had stomach cancer or something. But he ate his dinner and didn't throw up. So who knows. But, just like the Bible says, he does sometimes eat his vomit.

OK, this is pretty nasty to me. I asked Bern if she lost respect for Bela for eating his vomit. She said, 'no, it just reminds me he's a dog.' I was about to tell her that it was in the Bible when Bela wanted out--Bern and I were on the back porch smoking--so I let him out.

(Some people, I know, think smoking is the human equivalent of a dog eating vomit. But what do I care about such opinions?)

Bela ran down into the back yard, I thought to pee (a neighbor of ours once told me he hated having dogs 'urinate' on his yard. Since his yard is the side of the street where the sidewalk is, I thought he didn't understand dogs very well. They don't wait until the next Mobile station on the Parkway to "Urinate"...they 'pee' when the smell is right and the spirit moves them.)

But Bern went inside to watch "House"--the first new episode--while I waited for Bela to come back so he and I could join her. (Bela actually doesn't watch House, or anything on TV, but when both of us are in the TV room, he is there.)

He didn't come back and didn't come back and none of our flashlights work so I went down in the dark to drive him back.

I think he was eating the vomit he threw up from the vomit he ate from what he threw up after breakfast. With some leaves and snow and dirt as well.

Pretty amazing to me: he ate his vomit twice--the same vomit.

The second time he ate it, it must have been a bit frozen, like a vomit Italian Ice or something. "Give me one watermelon ice, one chocolate ice and one vomit ice...." I wonder what the folks down at the Italian Ice places on Wooster Street in New Haven would think of that order?

Twice eaten vomit isn't a new concept--think of refried beans or twice-baked potatoes.

Sort of a gourmet treat for dogs.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Memory Lane is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there

I wrote a few days ago about all the ancient writings Bern found when she was rearranging one of the guest bedrooms. I've spent a lot of time reading that stuff since then.

It is remarkable to listen to my much younger self's words and consider what it was that I, back then, thought and pondered and wondered about.

I was much more intense and existential back then. And though I think of myself as terribly 'ironic' today, back then I was 'ironic' to the point of nihilism , it seems to me.

I wrote very long paragraphs and dozens of sonnets in strict iambic pentameter. The prose is interesting to me. The poems, I fear, are just awful--sentimental, inflated and nihilistic all at once. That combination, let me assure you, makes for a terrible poem.

There were some blank verse poems. Here's one written when I was a freshman in college (18 or 19 years old). It is about an actual event. I watched out my dorm window as a man fell to his death from the fifth or sixth floor of a construction site.

The falling man

A man fell yesterday, I saw him fall...
So sure of foot and balance that he came, he came,
too near
the edge.

And (it seems to me, watching from this very spot)
he watched as well--he watched a bird
that soared lightly, without steel beams to hold
him high.
As the bird was
flashing past his face,
the man leaned out
and seemed suspended
one short second--seeming to smile--
though I was so far away,
and fell.

The bare shoulders of the men
who rushed to him
glistened in the sun.
They seemed to be talking softly
so not to be heard
by the gathering crowd.

A girl I know passed by
with long and shimmering legs,
walking her dog, Natasha.

Today there is black crepe
hanging from that floor,
gently waving to the
passing birds.

It is too easy--the allegory we should avoid--
that he is just like all...
all of us....
Only he has fallen
and we,
we are creeping edgeward.


Rather dark and negative, it seems to me.

But there are nuggets among the sand of what the 'me' I was over 40 years ago wrote.

I'll seek some out to share...and ponder....

Creatures in the walls

There are some kind of creatures in some of our walls.

There used to be squirrels in the attic, but Bern got a machine whose purpose is to make a noise that apparently makes squirrels psychotic if they don't leave. So we don't hear squirrels skritching across the ceiling of our bedroom or TV room anymore.

But I hear something in the walls of the dining room. I would like to convince myself that it is a family of those Brownies (wasn't that the name?) that lived in the walls of a house in New York in books I used to read to our children. (I'm not sure, by the way, that convincing kids that little people live in the walls is a particularly good idea....)

But I know these aren't Brownies or Fairies or Elves. And I'm calling someone I found in the phone book to come next week and tell us what to do.

Someone came last year, when the squirrels were playing what sounded like soccer in our attic. He assured us there was no way for them to get in except through a window we kept open in the attic with a fan to blow out hot air in the summer. So we closed the windows and got the crazy making squirrel machine.

Mostly I hear them in the wall near the dining room fireplace that we never use. We don't use it because a chimney sweep (there are still such professionals, though they don't look like Dick Van Dyke) told us there were chinks in the bricks in that chimney. Fixing it would have been like a million dollars, or at least the equivalent of that in our budget. So we filled the grate area with about 70 candles. The chimney in the kitchen fireplace is fine, so we use that in the winter. (By the way, a fireplace in the kitchen is one of the best ideas I can think of.)

When the squirrels were holding parties in the attic, I also got one of those squirrel traps that are open at each end but close when a squirrel goes in. Not killing the squirrels was high on our list for possible solutions. Driving them crazy with noise seemed preferable somehow. The quality of life of a psychotic squirrel, though not intense, seemed better than that of a dead squirrel.

On that subject--death--I heard today that four deceased people were on ballots around the country during the mid-term elections. They died after the ballots were printed and before the election. One of them won. Imagine being defeated by a dead guy....If 'brain dead' was the same as 'dead dead' I would suggest that quite a number of dead people won in that election....Oh well, I'll have to get over it. My next door neighbor, Mark, said today what Mark Twain once said, (I don't know if Mark knew he was quoting Twain...) "If you don't like the Congress, wait two years..."

Anyway, whatever is in the walls I no longer object to killing. There's just something a little eerie about having creatures in your walls....

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Treasure Trove

Bern was working on the bed room that the new bed from (starts with "I" ends with "A" and sounds a bit like 'Idea'--the place I dare not speak its name, when she emptied out a large, two drawer storage thing and found a treasure of stuff not unlike the Dead Sea Scrolls to me.

It was stuff I'd written years ago, some of it 30 or 40 years old that I thought was gone forever!

In it was the novel I wrote as a teenager called "The Old Gods Go". It was, in my teen mind, to be a trilogy whose titles would be based on a short poem by Carl Sandburg.

Day by day
and hour by hour,
the old gods go
and the new gods come.
Today, I worship the hammer.

I read a few pages and remember it not! What an adventure it is going to be to read it from such a distance and try to figure out who I was when I wrote it and why, by the way, I thought it had to be down on paper.

There were also a bunch of short stories I had not forgotten but thought were lost forever. Some of the titles are: 'Once softly, October', 'Being a Man', 'The Pepperoni Cure-all', 'Blackberry Winter', 'Gladys Spinnet is Dying', 'The Old Folks', and several other. I studied creative writing in college and some of them go back that far. Others were pre-1989, before we moved to Cheshire. Most of this stuff was probably in the two drawer chest when the movers moved it from New Haven! There were also a lot of sonnets I wrote to Bern when we were not much more than children, trying to woo her. (I'll have to read them to see if they are any good at all, but the 'wooing' part must have worked.

I'm so excited by this home archaeological discovery. I'll probably spend the weekend reading this stuff.

Also, among the flotsam and jetsam of half or more a lifetime ago, there were 12 pieces of stiff paper (40 weight or so) that were all about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide. They have sayings on them in my writing. I have no frigging idea where they came from or what I used them for or why I saved them or how they fit into my life. I kind of like them though. So I'll share them with you. They are each worth pondering as we sit under our castor oil trees. But I have no idea whatsoever what context they belong in.

Here they are, in no particular order, since I can't imagine there would be an order to them:













What a mystery to me among the treasures. I have no idea why I cut that paper--obviously I cut it into 3 inch pieces--or why I wrote those sayings on it or what it all means.

I know the memory and the knees are the first to go....but why don't I know what all that means? I actually like it and, in a weird way, like no knowing what it means.

It's like a message --or 12 messages--to me from a younger me. It must be a message I need to ponder. You are welcome to ponder it as well.

After all, "It's all a game--PLAY HARD...."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

To the 8th ring of hell...

I wanted to write about all this yesterday, when it happened, but I knew I had to calm my nerves and steel myself to face a keyboard. I didn't have even a single glass of wine last night, knowing any alcohol at all would send me spinning into memories and thoughts I didn't want to revisit or have.

No, I'm not talking about the elections nationwide--that was only the 4th ring of hell (being a liberal, I actually feel more comfortable when I know I'm in the minority and that the Conservatives have to bumble around pretending to govern and will look goofy by the 2012 elections....)

Yesterday morning, I was eating breakfast, licking my Tea Party inflicted wounds, when Bern innocently asked, "what do you have planned for this morning?"

I actually had nothing planned, preferring to mope around and feel sorry for myself in a world where John Bayner is Speaker of the House. So I told her I was free.

"Good," she said, "I want to go to Ikea...."

My blood pressure plummeted and I dropped my cereal spoon in the remaining milk. I felt cold fingers pressing on my temples and spine. Oh No, Not Ikea!

I know lots of people love, simply love Ikea. But I fear it like the Plague. The store in New Haven is huge--I can't even picture how huge it is because of the way they've made both floors into Labyrinths worthy of Greek mythology. But I know a store that has walk ways called things like "Short Cut to Lighting" is enormous.

But as large as it is, and as tasteful, I feel claustrophobic inside it, as if I'm locked in a bright, well designed closet or an attractive, well-lit coffin. I've tried to analyse my reaction to Ikea to no avail. In fact, if each department were in a separate building--like lots of small shops in a large strip mall--I would objectively like it. I like the stuff, marvel at its ingenuity and how cheaply the Swedes can make quality stuff. But put together in a building about the size of the Sistine Chapel, with too many walls and walkways and maps that are impossible to make sense of and 'short cut to bedding' signs, I can't cope.

We went to buy a bed and mattress for one of the guest rooms that was an old bed left to me by my Uncle Russell with three futon pads piled one on top of the other rather than a real mattress. And, being from the 1940's or 50's, you sleep a yard or so above the floor. I believe you could get nosebleed being in that bed. Short people need to take a run to get onto it. So the need was real and serious, but why not Sears, why oh why Ikea, building of anxiety and nightmares.

I'm sure many of you (4 or 5 of the dozen or so people who read this--why don't you tell all your friends about it?) have been to Ikea. It is, after all, an icon of our culture. And, even I, Ikea-phobic as I am, must admit the stuff is neat and...well, cheap. But you have to wander around endlessly to find what your looking for--the maps are a waste of time though there are maps everywhere, along with huge yellow bags and 'shopping lists' with golf pencils. Then, when you find the department you want you have about a gazillion choices of the same item. There were at least 50 different bed frames and even more styles of mattresses. Then you have to write down the name of the item, the price, the Bin and row #'s and a 15 character 'item number' on your shopping list. Then it takes what seems like hours to find the place where you get a huge cart and gather your stuff from the bins and rows. Then you have to check out and I've never been there when there were enough lanes open. Even the self-serve lane gets backed up because most people can't figure out how to use the little bar code reader. (Most instructions in Ikea are literal translations, it seems to me, of what it would be in Swedish and Swedish, it seems to me, has a much different syntax that English. So you get instructions that are the equivalent of "Throw Papa, down the stairs, his hat" kind of syntax.)

When we finally got to the check out I realized one of the boxes of bed didn't have a bar code and had to retrace my anxious steps to find the proper bin and row again (to give you a taste of the scale of the Ikea store, the bins and aisles of compulsively neat merchandise takes up as much space as your normal Wall Mart, just the Bins and Rows, never mind the tastefully displayed areas of merchandise with short cuts to other tastefully displayed areas of merchandise) and get another box of bed parts. While looking for the bar code in the first place, back up in the check out line, I hit my head on a shelf that had about 50 Christmas Ornaments (unbreakable at that) for $8.99. How do they sell stuff so cheaply?

I was shaking and wishing for psycho-therapeutic drugs by the time we got home. It had only been a couple of hours but I felt I had made a three day trek through various small, enclosed spaces and spent some time in a Chilean mine (though a tasteful, well-lit mine, full of interesting and attractive stuff if it hadn't been in a mine....)

All that, at least, took my mind off the debacle of the election....

Monday, November 1, 2010

the meaning of humility

Ok, all of yesterday and today, I've been rearranging and changing my office. My office is an L-shaped landing at the top of the back stairs that looks like this:

l stairs

Maybe 10 x 14 with a staircase taking up a piece of it all.

I've worked, probably 14 hours. It's now finished. I like it a lot.

I would have never done this if bern hadn't told me a few weeks ago: "If you'd let me, I would rearrange your office....."

By blood ran cold. I started sweating. My blood pressure plummeted (stress makes my blood pressure go down) and I felt both faint and disembodied.


(ok, I know I've built my life--my career and personal life--around being the most flexible and change-friendly person you could find. AND I AM....Until it comes to MY OFFICE! MY SPACE! MY LIFE!)

Bern moves and rearranges things endlessly. The table my computer rests on has been in three rooms in our house. There are chairs and end tables and bookshelves that have been in four or five rooms--and we only have eight rooms! Our bed is a futon and it has been in three rooms and once it became our bed it has been in three different places in that room. When I used to go to work and leave bern at home I would steel myself for what changes might greet me when I returned. Now I'm mostly here and when I see that "I want to move s*** around" look on her face--I know that look intimately--I go to the library or the grocery store or a movie and steel myself.....

So, to stop her moving my stuff around, I did it.

I made a list with 17 items that laid out my plan. It involved moving a bookcase within the office, moving a bookcase from outside the office to the office, cleaning out a file cabinet and throwing that away, putting together a table stashed under a guest room bed, moving my computer's printer, restructuring the use of the printer piece of furniture, getting rid of a small desk and a bamboo table that hid the office's air conditioner, moving the air conditioner until next summer, taking down two built in shelves and moving some stuff on the walls.

It sounds like a lot, but this is a 120 square foot area with a stairway taking up 20 square feet of that. How hard could that be???

Friggin' Hard--that's how hard. 14 hours of work hard.

And every step of the way I was reminded how inept I am at anything requiring manual dexterity, the use of tools and brute strength.

Humbling. For 14 hours I was humbled.

(Perhaps that is good for the Soul--but it's a bitch on the Ego.)

Fourteen hours later, after moving some papers and boxes and stuff at least a dozen times just to make room to work in such a small space, after an hour long trip to Hines Hardware store to find the right missing hardware for the table I was assembling (looking through an immensity of little drawers with screws and bolts and a dozen things I don't have names for), after several vacuumings of floor that hasn't seen the light of day because stuff was on it for the last two decades plus (I could move into a furnished apartment and never move the furniture for as long as I was there--I've known Bern to move furniture in a Motel room we'd be in one night...go figure how we've been married 40 years....), after taking books out and putting them back and moving them again, after what seemed like the 6th ring of hell for 14 hours because of my previously mentioned (and humility inspiring) ineptitude for any of what I did for 14 hours, it was finished.

And I love it. I have the table for my computer and a larger table in an L where I can read and do other things without moving my keyboard. And I have two huge bookcases and a small storage case on wheels and stuff on the wall in places it should be and I am a happy camper.

(I had to ask Bern to help me with manual things more than I hoped--like screwing things and assembling things, MANly things I'm no good at). But when I thanked her for helping me, she had the good sense and the knowledge of the depths of my humiliation to say, "I didn't help that much...." Bless her. Maybe it's not amazing we've been married 40 years, as different as we are...)

{I just looked around for a minute or two. My space is more usable and seems larger. Maybe 14 hours isn't as long as it seemed to me. Maybe humiliation is good for the Soul....and the Ego, in an odd way, as well.}

I look upon my work (with Bern's help) and can say: "It is Good".

[Maybe I need a little more humility since I'm quoting Yahweh's observation about Creation....]

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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.