Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy, Happy 2017

It's still over an hour before 2017 and I'm going to bed as soon as I write this New Year's greeting. And though I had wine for dinner and champagne for a toast to the year that was, I'm perfectly sober.

Unlike such days in years past.

We had dinner with Jack and Sherry, long-time friends from New Haven. It was Hoppen-John: pork and rice and collard greens and black-eyed peas--something people from below the Mason-Dixon line know is required eating tonight and tomorrow. Jack and Sherry's son, Rob was there. He's 44 and was Josh's older playmate growing up. John, our friend from WV, who is a psychologist for the VA was the only other human. Between Jack, Sherry and Rob, there were 4 dogs and 2 cats. Southerners and their animals, you know....

We had agreed for our happiness to not say the name of the President-elect out loud. But we invariably did.

We  have three weeks for the thing that isn't just a river in Egypt. After that we have to wake up in a new reality.

We are all from, basically, White Working Class backgrounds, and none of us have yet figured out how we so drastically left our roots--the folks who made 'he who will not be named' the President elect.

But we've known each other for decades: Bern and I knew John in Morgantown when we were in college. John is an Episcopalian, like me and we met in church. Sherry was a member of St. Paul's in New Haven when I came there as Rector in 1980. Lots of years of friendship in all that. Plus Josh and then Mimi growing up around Rob.

Somehow we simply slipped away from where we came from and became Liberals.

And now, waiting for 2017, we are perplexed, anxious, angry, confused--each of us in different areas of those emotions.

But the year will come.

"It's not how many times you get knocked down that matter--it's how many times you get back up."

That would be my motto if I didn't realize that the saying is attributed to Gen. George Custer, not long before the Battle of Little Big Horn....

I know I'll 'get up'. But the 'knock down' this year was painful, perplexing, confusing.....

Happy New Year any way.....

Friday, December 30, 2016

La-La Land

That's the movie Bern and I will go see on Inauguration Day.

Neither of us want to be near a TV that day.

For the two of us--and millions of others, Trump becoming President is something we'd not want to view, in any way.

So, we'll go to a movie and dinner and probably I'll drink some wine (Bern doesn't her demise in this case) and just try to get through the day and pretend 'life as we know it' didn't end.

But it will. It will.

"Life as we know it", for 4 years at least, is over.

(I bought all the adults in our family "We're Still Here" blue baseball hats for Christmas. Bill Maher designed them and Michael Moore wears one.Just a reminder to Trump World that we are still here.)

La-la-Land won't make reality 'real' again. But it will pass the day.


Thursday, December 29, 2016


Yesterday, Bern mailed in our last mortgage payment!

Somehow she (and I mean her and her alone...I don't do checks, I do taxes) paid off our 30 year mortgage in 27 years....

Only thing is, there goes our biggest tax deduction.

If you want to be angry with the government--and who doesn't these days?--consider this: tax policy for ordained ministers.

Any 'housing costs'--mortgage, utilities, taxes, paint, repairs, lawn furniture, a new mattress, toilet paper, on and on--can be deducted from an ordained minister's income and no tax is paid on them....Plus, like everyone else, ministers can also deduct the interest on mortgage, which was already deducted once in the mortgage payments....Go figure. God must be on our side....So, $1900 or so a month can no longer be deducted in tax year 2017. But that will be fine.

But it's nothing considering my father and mother's only house. He had an eighth grade education while my mother had a Master's degree in education. But when they bought their only house, the year I went off to college, they paid cash! Those two knew how to save.

It was on $28,000 but that was 1965 money.

It only took us 27 more years to pay for a house than my Mom and Dad....

And it feels so good.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


I'm not keen on my mathematical acumen so when I saw this on line "Can you solve this almost impossible problem?" I almost passed it over. But just by glancing I knew what I thought was the answer, so I went to the site and I was right.

It just seems common sense and intuitive to me. What do you think? Here it is....


What do you think?

(What was harder than the problem was typing it! My computer didn't let me put spaces between the numbers and signs like I wanted. Now that seems impossible....

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Short but oh, so sweet...

Mimi, Tim and Ellie came up from Brooklyn on Christmas Eve morning. Josh and Cathy and the three Bradley girls didn't get here until I'd left to do two (4 and a 6) Xmas Eve services. Everyone went to our friend John's Christmas Eve party and got home about half-an-hour after I did. We opened stocking presents and slept until 7 for Christmas day.

It was a wonderful day--full of talk and laughter and joy and a little alcohol....

John came to make 10 for dinner. The girls (all of us really) kept Ellie the center of attention!

Good food and a great family. What else do you need?

Josh and Cathy left early on the 26th--she had court of the 27th--and Tim and Mimi left in mid-afternoon.

Bern did, as always, put the house back in 'just the two of us' shape and we had a quiet evening.

'Bout all I could have wished for....

Monday, December 26, 2016

Yorkshire Pudding

More later about our wondrous Christmas with Josh/Cathy, Mimi/Tim, the three Bradley girls and baby Ellie McCarthy....

But this is about Christmas dinner. I had no idea what Yorkshire Pudding was. I thought it would involve raisins, dates, currants and the like. It's like a pop-over with beef juice! Who knew? Well, millions of people, of course, but not me.

We had a ten pound, bone in, beef rib roast, Yorkshire Pudding, a mixture of 4 mushrooms, scalloped potatoes, spinach salad with pomegranate, and beef broth. With a rich mixture of everything from German Chocolate Cake to ice cream to cream puffs for dessert.


And the Yorkshire Pudding threw me, but in a good way. I've having it crisped up in the over with beef soup for dinner tonight. Right now, in fact.

So, see you....

Friday, December 23, 2016

Tis the season....

Just as Americans do politically, the crowd shopping in Stop and Shop this morning split down the middle: naughty and nice....

I had half-a-dozen harried shoppers cut me off in an aisle with not so much as a fare thee well.

At the same time, more than that backed up to let me pass and smiled.

Most of the aggression wasn't so much 'aggressive' as just pretending they were the only person there.

Half the small kids were listening attentively to their parents and the other half were running amok! I kid had hidden underneath a vegetable display and his father dragged him out. I expected the man to hit the kid and present me with a moral dilemma...but he just picked him up and carried him away.

Lots of people simply seemed like they wanted to be anywhere on the eve of the Eve besides shopping.

And most of the people in really ugly holiday sweaters were the friendliest in the store.

Something about an ugly holiday sweater to bring out the best in folks....

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Two horrible things you don't want to read--PLEASE BELIEVE ME!!!--go watch something on U-Tube, call your sister, read a good book...anything, just don't read this....

OK, I'm not responsible.

The other day I was with a person who makes me totally and absolutely irrational. This person brings out the very worst in me and my 'worst' is pretty bad. I don't know why it is so, but it is. I can't be around this person without being a crazy person.

I could blame their opinions--which do make me homicidal. I could blame their demeanor, which is (to me) smug and superior. I could blame their personality, which totally conflicts with mine: I tend, in my first approach, to joke about almost everything. But when I run into someone who seems devoid of humor as I understand it, I revert to my reptilian personality and strike out.

And all that happened the other day. I was an ass-hole in front of people I genuinely admired and like. I lashed out like a madman and said things I deeply regret--not because I didn't mean them, but because they were so inappropriate in a social setting.

And what I've come to realize is I've met my Samaritan.

Jesus' story of the Good Samaritan drove good Jews over the edge. Samaritans, didn't Jesus know, were 'the other', the 'evil ones', those to be shunned. What right did he have to make them look at a Samaritan that was not only 'good' but better than the three moral Jews in the story?

What I've come to see is that the next time I'm with the person who makes me a maniac, I have to realized God sent them to me to find the nobility in them I am unable, unwilling, reluctant to see.

First, I will apologize to them. Sincerely. And share with them my epiphany that they are God's gift to me to make me a better person, to find the 'noble' and 'good' in them. To 'appreciate' them.

I will do that and apologize to the others who were there.

And, believe this beloved, this is one of the hardest things I've ever written. I told you not to read it and hope you didn't.

I am humiliated by recognizing my 'Samaritan' and acknowledging why God sent them to me--and how much I need, for my own soul, to embrace and welcome them.....

Monday, December 19, 2016


Yesterday, driving to church in Killingworth, I drove through the worst fog I remember driving through. Coming home was second worst....

And that's from a guy from the fog capitol, Southern West Virginia. Mountains and moisture and rapidly shifting temperature make for a log of fog a lot of the time.

But yesterday was Epic Fog.

Between Durham and Killingworth on Routes 79 and 80, it was ghostly, the whole landscape. Not to mention that part of CT looks more like WV than any other.

I actually like the fog.

You could do worse than pull over to the side of the road and just get out and stand in the fog.

It's an apt metaphor, in many ways, for how I go through life, just feeling myself along, straining to see the right direction, hoping I'm not going to fast.

Being lost in a Cloud is an image from Christian mysticism for seeking God or the Holy.

Not a bad place to be--'the Cloud of Unknowing'.

"Knowing" is well over rated. 'Unknowing', that's getting someplace even if the view isn't clear and directions are difficult and 'seeking' becomes a way of being....

Next good fog, go out and 'be there'....

You'll thank me for it.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

a week away....

With a coating of snow, it's not hard to believe Christmas is a week away--but the temperatures forecast for the next week are back in the 40's, maybe even 50 on Christmas Day!

Bern has spent the day rearranging furniture! I stay out of the way!!! I would probably never move a piece of furniture across the room, much less upstairs to downstairs. I just lay low and pray she doesn't hurt herself since I'm still no help because of my knee immobilizer.

Plus, she doesn't want me helping anyway....

First it was the candy houses that focused her for days. Today, and probably tomorrow, whole rooms with be transformed by her single-handily. Bless her energy. I'll just stay out of the way.

I've already finished and illustrated her story for this year and since she only drove me away for one day, she must have finished whatever she made me.

Our children know to donate money--hopefully to pet rescue groups--for our presents.

My little gifts are all in bags on the table beside me.

We've discussed the Christmas Day menu.

All that's missing are the kids/their spouses and the grand-daughters....

But that's good enough to wait for a few more days.

Waiting, after all, is what Advent's about. It just makes the gift sweeter to wait on it....

Thursday, December 15, 2016

ok, now it's New England

Today I'd been driving and when I started to get out of the car--still awkward because of my knee immobilizer--the wind blew the cold, cold air against the car door and shut it on my good leg!

I've lived in New England for 36 years (+2 years in Cambridge for Grad School)--that's 38 years, It's 55% of my life that I've been a resident of the (thankfully) blue-state New England. There's an old joke in Connecticut: the first hundred years are the hardest....It takes a while to 'become' a New England-er, but I think I now qualify.

And today it was officially New England. The temperature plummeted 25 or more degrees from yesterday and the wind got angry. Wind chill tonight is below zero. And will be all day tomorrow, if the Weather Channel is to be believed. (Though, since we're in Trump-world, why believe the National Weather Service any more than the CIA?)

But it snaps back on Sunday to high 30's/low 40's and may be in the 50's part of next week and ON CHRISTMAS DAY!

So, New England lives for 48 hours or so and then we're back to what we're becoming--part of the Mid-Atlantic states: Maryland, Virginia, Delaware...places like that.

But it can't be 'climate change', Lordy, no! That was canceled out by the Presidential Election.

Maybe everything here in Trump-land is simply becoming more like Mar-a-lago.....

Monday, December 12, 2016

The moon, the moon

As bright as could be, nearer earth than it really is, just off our back porch to the east: a full as full can be moon. Oh, my Lord.....

I realize I've written about the moon many times before. I found a couple of them for you....

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The moon

Tonight, as I stepped out on our chilled deck to smoke a cigarette (I know! I know! Don't chide me about it! The cold does more to curb my smoking than all my friends' warnings....) I looked up, as I always do, to find the moon.

It's too overcast to see her, but I looked anyway.

Today I was sorting through all the 'paper' of my past, and found a poem I wrote a decade ago about the moon. I was sure I must have shared it in the 1100 or more posts on this blog, but when I typed 'moon' into the blog search box, I got several hundred responses (I mention the Moon a lot) but none that was this poem. So here it is, from November 26, 2004--4 days short of 10 years ago.


OK, so I'm out on the deck smoking a cigarette
and drinking red wine.
What I'm really doing is watching the moon
through the trees in this, my now favorite tiime
of the year...when all is bare, stark, dying and thin...
knowing what comes next is new life.

Most people I know would chide me for smoking
and more than a few would deride my for
the red wine--but I no longer care.

What I care about is the moon, the moon, the moon.

I know why countless ancient folks worshipped the moon.
Why wouldn't one worship what brings dime light
to deep darkness and moves the seas.

Like the seas, the moon moves me.
Outward into the great chill of the ionosphere and beyond...
though I will never possess the moon, she draws me near,
though I will never own her, I worship her.

When the waxing ceases and the waning begins,
the moon pushes me back, deep inside myself,
down along a dim passage I seldom have walked,
to a door to a room I don't remember knowing,
and I open the door...and there I find, the moon.

So I stand and stare, wishing to know more,
longing to possess the wondrous brightness of it all.
Waiting on my deck, smoking and drinking, watching this only:
through the bare trees--the moon, the moon, the moon....

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The moon, the moon....

The moon, in the sky beyond the half dozen hemlocks beside our back porch, is as full as it can be in the eastern sky.

OK, I know the moon doesn't really shrink and then swell, it's all about the earth blocking the sun that reflects off the moon. I know that. But I like to think the moon does really shrink into darkness and then swell into wholeness. It seems right.

"Lunatic" comes from the Latin for 'moon'--luna. And I truly believe the moon has an effect on the way we are.

At St. John's, all the years I was there, we dreaded the full moon. Crazy people got crazier and people who didn't seem crazy got a little bit crazy.

Folks in the Soup Kitchen acted out a bit more. Street People became more aggressive. And a Vestry meeting on the night of a full moon would devolve into nonsense.

No kidding.

I actually knew today that the moon would be full tonight. I had this energy unlike my normal energy--just a little off the grid. I said things to people I probably wouldn't say at a quarter moon or half-moon and never in the dark of the moon.

I like believing the cosmos has some power in our lives. Like the moon drives us a bit. And the seasons make us different. The Spring 'me' is different than the late Autumn 'me'.

We are looked over and driven by the stars. Don't tell me astrological signs are meaningless. I am Aries on the cusp of Torus and that rules my extroversion and my irony. I really know that.

If you get a chance, go out and look at the moon tonight or tomorrow night. A full moon is a lot of energy. Really.

(back to 12/12/16)

I'm just into the moon in a way I don't understand. Maybe I'm into it because I don't understand why. That would be 'moon-like' after all....

Open Letter #6

I've been a while, Morgan, Emma, Tegan and Ellie. I've been living day to day knowing that for a few more weeks Donald Trump isn't 'really' President of our nation. Not yet, dear Lord, not yet.

I've been in deep denial that he will ever be your president (our!) but denial really isn't much more than a river in Egypt.

I have to face the facts (even though Donald doesn't!) and admit this is going to happen and happen soon.

I think I mentioned he said "millions" voted illegally with no basis in truth.

Since then he's taken credit for keeping a thousand jobs in the US (while actually a multi-million dollar tax break by Indiana did).

*He's taken on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and Alex Baldwin again on twitter for making fun of him. (The boy hasn't learned the adage that 'all publicity' is 'good publicity'. Most people would be delighted to be made fun of on SNL! But not thin skinned Donald....

*He's not receiving the daily 'security briefings' a President Elect should be getting. He says he doesn't need to be told things over and again and to 'brief him' if something new comes up.

*Plus, and the worse yet for the future, he has said the CIA report on Russian hacking in order to influence the election isn't accurate. Well, maybe, if he doesn't believe the CIA about that, he doesn't believe them about other things and simply doesn't want to hear from them!!!!

People all over the political spectrum have eyes rolling out of their heads and eyebrows having to be scraped off the ceiling. If the President doesn't trust the CIA, who does he trust? Brite-Bart news? Putin? His own intuition? His own 'imagination'?

In a little over a month, he's going to be the Commander in Chief and the boss of the CIA. Will he simply 'fire' the CIA like he fired people on his TV show?

This my beloved grand-daughters is a moment verging into the surreal. The CIA stands between all of us and lots of evil. And the man who will be President (in spite of my denial....) doesn't believe them????

Lordy, Lordy.

I'm not just saying that as folksy Appalachian-speak. I'm calling on the God of the Universe to help us.....

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy.....

Love  you girls like I love my own heart, because you are. Granpa....

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Advent III

I was ordained in 1975--so, I've been preaching almost every Sunday for most of 41 years.

In the Episcopal Church, the Sunday readings are on a three year cycle. So, the same lessons show up every three years. I don't usually use a text or even an outline for a sermon, but I do write them out many weeks and store them in my computer.

One of the ways of 'cheating' in preaching is to go see what you said one of the other times on Advent III, for example. Just to get ideas, you understand, not to preach the same sermon over and over...

So I looked up Advent III in my sermons and found one from 2013--three years ago, so on the same readings. But the more I looked at that sermon, the less I could remember preaching it. Writing and preaching are vastly different experiences. I looked at Advent III, 2013 in Emmanuel Church's service book and low and behold, that day the churches I serve were cancelled by snow! No wonder I couldn't remember the sermon....

So I used it today and here it is for  you....

Advent iii, 2016

          John Baptist was out of control.
          He lived in the desert for years—eating only what he found in the wilderness. He did not participate in society—instead he railed out dire warnings to the sand and the rocks. He wore strange clothing he had fashioned from animal skins and never cut his hair. Little wonder then that when he appeared from the wilderness, proclaiming that the Kingdom was near, people were both frightened of him and yet almost irresistibly drawn to his strangeness.
          And one thing John never forgot—he was a ‘prophet’ of the One Who Was To Come. His whole life and everything he did pointed, not to himself, but to another. He was to make the Way straight—to clear the ground for the Coming One of God. He was not ‘the One’—he was the forerunner, the harbinger, the messenger of One greater than him.
          Little wonder then, when John found himself in prison, soon to lose his head for daring to condemn the royal family, that he suddenly wondered if his life-work had been in vain. Had he made the rough ground smooth or had he wasted his time and energy…had he failed to fulfill his only mission in life?
          John sent disciples to Jesus. “Are you the One?” they asked him.
          “Are you the One, or are we to wait for another?”
          In all the gospels, Jesus almost never gives a direct response to a question. He either asks a question in return or tells a story or gives what seems like a non sequitor in reply.
          His response to John’s disciples is no different. Instead of answering their question—instead of claiming to be The One all Israel was awaiting—he tells them to go back and tell John what they see and hear.
          “…the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have good news brought to them…..” Jesus tells the disciples of John that what he “does” should answer the question of who he “is”.
          Jesus’ words echoed the description of the “holy one” from the prophecy of Isaiah. His identity is found, not in who he ‘says’ he is, but in the works he does.
          When John heard the message he must have realized that he had fulfilled his mission. John must have known that Jesus was “the one”.

          It is really no different for any of us. The proof is in the pudding. By the fruits we will know who someone truly IS.
          The Kingdom is near—the Kingdom is always near, always ‘at hand’, always just out of the sight of our periphery vision. Close, but ‘not yet’.
          So the question is not, ‘who do we say that we are?” The question that matters is how do we live into the coming Kingdom? How do we lean into the reign of God? How are we part of the in-breaking of Light into the Darkness?
          We are the children of the Kingdom that was and is and is to come. We are God-bearers, Light bringers, the vehicles of healing in this tragic and suffering world.
          It is not who we ‘say’ we are that draws the Kingdom nearer. The Kingdom is unveiled in our midst by what we ‘do’.
          Advent is not simply a time of ‘waiting’ for the Coming One. It is a time to ‘prepare’ to welcome the Kingdom just at hand.
          Make straight the road of Kindness.
          Smooth out the way of Compassion and Generosity.
          Tear down the mountains on Indifference and Judgment and build highways of Love and Inclusion and Acceptance.
          Through the Wilderness make a path for Forgiveness and Mercy to walk on.
          We too must ‘prepare’ the way of the Lord.
          We are the ones for whom the Kingdom waits.
          We are the ones God is expecting to welcome the Child.
All this is expressed beautifully in the Wisdom from the Hopi Elders. Listen….
          There is a River flowing now, very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
          Know this: the River has its destination. The Elders say we must let go of the shore, push out into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open and our heads above the water.
          At this time of history, we are to take nothing 'personally'. Least of all, outselves. The moment that we do that, our spritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
          The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
          Banish the word 'struggle' from your attitude and your vocabulary.
          All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
          We are the ones we’ve been waiting for….
          We, you and I, are the ones to lean into the Kingdom.  Amen.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


"Immobilize" is the verb of the noun of the thing I've worn on my right leg since September 28. That noun is "immobilizer".

It is a fabric brace with a three inch flat metal piece in the back and two one inch flat metal pieces on the right and left and four Velcro tabs to tie it on. And it does it's job. It, according to Merriam-Webster, serves to 'reduce or eliminate motion of the body by mechanical means'.

Velcro, metal and fabric doesn't seem very 'mechanical' to me--but it damn sure works.

I wore this thing 24 hours a day except for bi-weekly and horrifying showers without being able to put weight on my right foot, except for my toes--from September 28 until November 14. All that time I wore the immobilizer and used crutches (which I suck at!). Since November 14, I can walk with a cane and drive again. But watching me get into and out of a car with an immobilizer on should make America's Funniest Videos.

I've been having Physical Therapy almost since surgery, but even though I do that without the brace, the brace is still 'immobilizing' my life.

I hope on December 19 that Dr. Shai ('Shaw') will take it away.

My knee is still stiff though I can bend it to 110 degrees and walk easily without the cane at PT. I can even go up steps at PT without the brace.

I'm still (except when sleeping without the brace and taking showers without terror) made immobile most of my waking life.

Here's my advice: never, ever rupture your quad muscle on either leg.

Heed that advice well....Or find out what 'immobile' really means (Merriam-Webster come to life....)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

opposites attract--thank God!

If opposites didn't attract I wouldn't have been married to Bern for 46 hours, much less 46 years!

Here's an example: 'focus'.

Bern gets really focused on things. Like today, I came home to find her working on the candy houses she's making for our three oldest granddaughters. I complimented her on how they were shaping up. I think she grunted in reply. It may have been a sigh or a growl, but it tipped me off to keep several rooms and hopefully, a floor between us this afternoon.

When she is in 'focus-mood' best not try to do 'small talk'...or any talk! If the house were on fire I would risk telling her--but 46 years is long enough to learn when to back off.

I, on the other hand, could be doing brain surgery and carry on a conversation about the weather! Which, as I think of it, is a good reason for me not to do brain surgery.

I don't have much 'focus' at all. I mean, I can get things done, but I don't go 'into myself' like she does. I'm an extrovert and she's an introvert and that explains things around the edges. But not fully....

You see, when she's 'candy house focused', I want more than anything to 'chat' with her. Since I don't 'focus' like she does, I (somewhere deep inside of me) want to prove she doesn't 'focus' like she appears to. Why? So I can prove she can't do something I can't? 'Opposites' are a red flag before my bull? Or, most likely, I am toward ADD on the scale, like she and my daughter say....

"Focus" and attention disorder. Thank God opposites attract....

Monday, December 5, 2016

This is what got more views than Blue Christmas

Sunday, March 15, 2015


So, I was reading an article on the Huffington Post about Ben Carson, the Black retired surgeon who may be running for President.

The article was about how Dr. Carson had said on TV that homosexuality was 'absolutely a choice' and how he later backed away from what he said.

Well, the article was what it was. Then I made the mistake of scrolling down to the comments about the article. I got hooked. Hundreds and hundreds of comments from every point of view from "Dr. Carson didn't go far enough...homosexuality is a Sin!" to "what a load of b.s. this Carson guy is!"

Somewhere in the 30 or so comments I read was one that really got me thinking. I wish I remember what commenter wrote it but I'm not willing to go back and sift through them to be able to tell you....

Anyway, that comment was about, not Dr. Carson, but one of the several comments that said gay folk will burn in hell.

The writer said, "I don't call those folks 'Christians', I call them 'Christianists'."

That really resonated with me. Being painted with the same brush with "Christians" who deny climate change, hate homosexuals, want to cut off food stamps to teach people the 'value of work', support the Keystone pipeline because Jesus wants us to have enough oil, support Israel without reservation--not because they love Jews but because they want Armageddon to come,  want to deny all abortions, believe Obama was born in Kenya, on and on and on...because they say Jesus would believe all that just drives me crazy.

From now on I'm referring to those folks as "Christianists", pure and simple.

As far as I can tell (and this is just me talkin') the length and breath of  'being a Christian' could be summed up like this:
      *love your neighbor as yourself
      *treat everyone as you wish to be treated
      *realize God loves every one of us
      *reach out to those less fortunate than you
      *seek the face of God in everyone you meet

I'm sure I left something out--but not much.

Stop there and you'll be in the company of angels.

"Christianists" want to make God in their own image and use God/Jesus to champion all their causes. I'm through with them. Really and forever. Being a Christian, it seems to me, involves the 5 things above...few enough things to count on the fingers of one hand. Simple enough.

And I think (just me talkin') 'being a Christian' is that simple.

Blue Christmas #2

I had to go back to March 15, 2015 to find a post that got more views than "Blue Christmas" on December 2, 2016 has already gotten.

There have been almost a post a day, on average, since 3/15/15. But in the past three days more people have read "Blue Christmas" from 12/2/16 than any of the others in over a year!

So, what's that about?

Did I really touch a cord about the negative feelings around this time of year and how we are all pressured into not admitting to them?

Did people tell other people to read about the Service of Remembrance and Support that the Cluster Churches host because it might speak to them?

Does it go that deeply?

I'm obviously out of my depths here since I don't have very many negative feelings attached to Christmas but acknowledge and support those who do.

I've always thought the season was fraught with artifice and pretense. Since I take Advent with great seriousness (my most spiritual time of the year) my feelings about this time of year are deep and quiet, not public and frivolous.

But there must be a real undercurrent of feeling out there in blog land about the 'blue' side of Christmas.

Since I make my living around this time of year, I'd love to hear more from you about those painful memories during the Christmas season. You can comment on the blog. I don't know if others can read that, however. So it would be safer to email me at with your thoughts.

I really would like to hear them.

The readers of the original Blue Christmas post must have something they need to share....


I had to clean about a quarter inch of wet snow from my car this morning. By noon, there was no snow left anywhere around.

I'm sure we'll have plenty of time to clear snow over the next few months--it is New England, after all. But this was a good way to get started.

A little snow, a couple of swipes with my windshield cleaner and off I go on wet, but not icy roads.

Makes me like snow more than usual that this first iteration was so gentle and short lived....

Saturday, December 3, 2016

What I do....

Today I visited a woman who will most likely--almost surely--be dead before a week has passed. She was very alert and we talked....We talked....I anointed her and prayed with her and I drove home.

So, I found this poem, one I've shared before, about what (as a priest) I do....


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

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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.