Thursday, April 30, 2020

I have a friend who knew Dr. Fauci in high school

My friend, Michael Delia, went to the same high school in Brooklyn with Dr. Fauci.

Fauci was a few grades above Mike, but he knew him because--get this--Fauci was the captain of the high school basketball team!

Anthony Fauci, that guy towered over by every one--even the women--on the podium for the briefings, was 'captain' of the basketball team in high school....

A leader of others even then.

I wish he and Dr. Birx (what last names they have!) were the only people who told us what was going on with the virus.

I truly wish that.

For all our well being.

Basketball--for goodness sake's!

Bern makes banana bread--the president makes no sense

Bern makes banana bread. As soon as a loaf is gone, she makes another.

It is really good. It has nuts and chocolate bits and pear in it.

I've not looked at the recipe, but she makes it in the clean glass loaf pan the last one came in.

I'm interested to see if and when she stops. She is a serial eater. She eats something every day for weeks and then stops.

This banana bread has gone on for several months--longer than most things.

We'll see.

The President, on the other hand, makes no sense.

He and henchman Jared continue to tell us what a 'great job' they've done as over a million are sick and 60,000 are dead.

He continues to push 're-opening' the country while every public health expert says 'slow down, not so fast."

Plus, he said today that he has 'evidence' that C-19 came from a Chinese lab! But he can't 'share the details'!!!!

He says Biden needs to address the sexual harassment charges against him. Does he forget who he is--the guy who paid off porn stars and mistresses right and left?

Bern's banana bread is infinitely better that what the President makes: 'no sense'.

How many lies can one man tell?

Hard to say....

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Different stokes for different folks

Bern and I have different strategies for dealing with isolation.

She plays solitaire on line. I play hearts.

She watches TV series on Netflix (today she's watched 6 episodes of an Australian show call Quirk in which dead people rise from their graves, not as zombies, but as who they were, from all periods of history).

I watch news videos on line.

She works in the yard on warmer days--not many this April.

I look at you tube videos.

She goes on line with zoom with her women's group.

I do church on line with zoom and face book live.

We do both cook and read books. But I read mysteries and she reads zombie books. (She's a zombie fan--watches zombies on TV...I don't like zombie shows.)

She goes to bed early--9 or 10 and wakes up at 7 a.m..

I go to bed late--11 or later and wake up at 9 or so.

She feeds and takes Bridget out after breakfast. I feed Brigit dinner and take her out the last two times each day.

But we are both doing well, doing our own things.

We spend time together every day, but not that much.

But all this was like that before the pandemic.

We're just doing what we do.

And it works for us.

Hope you find the rhythm  that works for you in these confusing times. We need a rhythm that keeps us sane and safe.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

OK, I beat up on the President

Today I want to beat up on the Vice-President.

Mike Pence went to the Mayo Clinic today (THE MAYO F-ing CLINIC!!!) and ignored their rule that everybody (I mean EVERYBODY!!) must wear a mask.

Everybody, I guess, except the Vice President.

His explanation was he is tested regularly and is always negative.

That's not the point.

He was in parts of the hospital with C-19 virus and he didn't have on a mask! The patients did, and every medical staff person and everybody in the whole hospital besides him.

He was risking 'getting infected' by not wearing a mask.

And he was being an A-hole.

I guess he was showing off for his boss, who said, after saying everyone should wear a mask, he wouldn't.

Risking getting the virus to mimic his boss.


And why are all those demonstrators against the 'stay at home' orders in several states not wearing masks (most of them)? Because their President and Vice-President lead by example....

As the President says. "Sad...."

Somethiing I've noticed

The pandemic is much, much worse for many, many people than for me. I'm not in health care or police and fire or grocery workers. They put their life in danger every day. I don't.

And I don't yet know anyone with the virus or who has died though one out of 330 people in the US have it and between 5 and 6 percent of them have died. A tragic loss of life I could without fear of contradiction blame on our President.

Today a Connecticut Public Radio host, Colin McEnroe, played an old show from three years ago where he and various experts and news people discussed how the current administration were dismantling the pandemic preparedness of the country. Three years ago, we should have known we weren't going to be ready for C-19.

(In fact, those last two paragraphs illustrate something I've noticed--I'm very scatter-brained these days. And rather than get on with telling you that, I do statistics and CPR.)

I had to remind myself three or four times to take out the trash because tomorrow is trash and recycle day in Cheshire. I even got the bags out to replace the full ones and came downstairs an hour later and noticed them--and that I had forgotten to do it when I took them out!

Also, I'll go on line to watch the news and end up playing Hearts instead.

Or, I'll go on line to read my emails and end up watching news videos instead.

Or, I'll go on line to write this post and end up watching Youtube instead.


Can't do three things in the logical succession.

Now, before you tell me, "Jim, you're always like that!" Let me tell you I know. But my natural disconnected state has increased during this crisis.

I'm not anxious or worried (which is normal for me) but my tendency (which I admit) to not do things in the right order has increased 4 fold.

Like just after I typed "4 fold", I stopped typing to wonder if there was something else I should be doing instead of this!


That's my only symptom of 'cabin fever', as He Who Will Not Be Named has called the results of the isolation of staying where you are.

I'm lucky.

But scatter-brained....

Sunday, April 26, 2020

I realized something today

On 'virtual church' today, Bryan Spinks preached and I realized how much I missed hearing other peoples' sermons. I really hadn't realized it until today.

I was at St. John's in Waterbury for 21 years. I always had an assistant and at least one seminarian and they all, of course, wanted to preach. So I heard a dozen or more sermons in the 48 Sundays each year (I always took a month off for vacation and didn't go to church!)

But since I retired, almost 8 years ago, I preach every Sunday a bishop isn't visiting--which is only every 3 years or so.

Hearing Brian made me remember I enjoy other people's take on 'the word'.

And I never second-guess them or think "I would have done this differently"--I just listen and take in their wisdom.

That's a good realization I think.

I really do.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Missed two days

I haven't written for two days. Not because I haven't anything to say, just because I haven't.

I really hope you aren't taking Clorox to kill the virus as President who will not be named suggested.

His lies have been constant, but the lies are beginning to matter now because if people believe them, they could kill themselves. The Maryland Department of Health had over a hundred calls to ask if disinfectant could be injested!

(My spell check didn't like 'clorox' or 'injested'.  I just don't get spell check....)

Tomorrow is the 6th Sunday of 'no church'. We'll do it on zoom and face book live. I asked Brian, the other priest and a professor at Yale Divinity School, if he'd like to preach before I read the Gospel. It's Luke 24.13-35--the road to Emmaus story--my favorite story in the Gospels. But I already gave it away! Woe is me!

Bern is downstairs below my little office on a Zoom call with her women's group that normally meets once a week but is zooming more often. Bern's been in the group for 30 years. There are only 6 of them, never more, and I know them all. I can recognize their voices but not quite hear what they are saying. Which is good, since no men are allowed!

It was one of the few lovely days of April this year. Which was good because Jesse and his crew dug up part of our yard to fix a break in the sewer pipe for our house and Mark and Naomi's house.

These two houses were built by the same Congregational minister in 1850 and 1860 so lots of things, like water and sewer, are shared.

We haven't had any problem since about a month ago, that Jesse fixed, but Mark and Naomi have.

What Jesse dug up was a spot where Bern wanted new plants, so it all worked out.

If you live near Cheshire and ever need any pipe work done, email me for Jesse's contact stuff.

He's great.

Be well and stay well.

Wash your hands.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

so strange these times

I'm going to go to a couple of the churches I serve tomorrow to borrow toilet tissue.

We're almost out and there is none in Cheshire--empty shelves and printed apologies.

I'm also going to get some wafers and Port wine since we do virtual church and I bless my bread and wine and hope those who have some in front of their screens have some as well will feel blessed.

Plus, I just want to get out and drive.

I get mileage from the Cluster, but have none this month.

It's much colder than April should be.

Bern is good at finding bright spots in these strange days.

She told me the chill was good because it made being inside less problematic. I agree.

I looked on the weather channel and it won't get to 60 for the rest of the month.

Chill as well as very strange, these days.

Georgia opening up gives a chill too. And the mayor of Los Vegas wants the hotels, casinos and restaurants open as well.

Slower than needed better than faster than is right should be the rule.

Stay home. Wash your hands. Keep distance when you have to go out. Wear a mask. Gloves too if you have them.

Be well and stay well.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020


(Bet you didn't know what that word meant.)

My favorite of 20 first cousins was named Mejol. It was a name my Aunt Georgie found in a novel about native Americans.

She is 5 or 6 years older than me and since my parents didn't know they'd have me, being older, they brought Mejol into their lives.

I remember her going on vacations with us and always being around.

She lives in the Baltimore area so I sometimes see her when I go see Josh and Cathy and the girls.

Her two children live there two with their spouses and her two grand-sons.

I'm sure I've told you this before, but when I was 14, she locked me in her room with a copy of Catcher in the Rye and a Bob Dylan album on her record player. It changed my life.

So I call her....more and more during this virus thing, because I love her and she grounds me.

Talking with Mejol makes me sane. (My spell check underlines her name and always will.)

We've shared so much over all these years.

Besides Bern and our children, there is no one I feel closer to than Mejol. (sorry spellcheck..)

The calls aren't profound, but they are comforting, centering, grounding.

Thank you cousin Mejol.

You mean more to me that you will ever imagine.


Monday, April 20, 2020

It's been five Sundays

I haven't been inside a church for five Sundays.

I really don't know if I've gone that long without being in a church on Sunday before.

When I was a child, my mother and I went to my grandma's Pilgrim Holiness Church and then, after that, to Anawalt Methodist Church. My father went there too. He had been a free-will Baptist (whatever that is) but wouldn't endure the Pilgrim Holiness Church. But when my mother and I left there, after the preacher prayed for my sinner father, sitting in the car outside, reading the Bluefield Daily Telegraphy's Sunday edition and 'smoking cigarettes', my father joined us in the Methodist church, claiming "Methodism can't hurt anybody".

I didn't go to church in college until I met the Episcopal chaplain and started going to his 'house church' services.

But, from that point on, I've never not gone to church for 5 Sundays in a row.

Yesterday seemed to stretch out to 72 hours. On and on it went.

I did virtual church, but that is finally not quite 'church'.

I tell people I became a priest because it meant I'd have to go to church.

Now, I'm not sure.

Maybe I would go to church even if I wasn't ordained.

I sure miss it. The hymns, the peace, the people.

Most of all the people and their hugs at the peace.

No hugs these days except from Bern and our dog, Brigit.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

ok, 3 sermons

(These are the three sermons I gave in 2005 on Easter: Easter Eve, 8 a.m., and 10:15 a.m. I don't know why they were all as one....but remembering what I did 15 years ago is pretty hard! The parts about the 'feminine' in us all and 'fear' seem relevant to today.)

          So we have sat in near darkness and heard the stories of salvation.
          Tonight is much like sitting around the campfire with the tribe and hearing the stories that tell us who we are and whose we are and who we belong to. Sharing the tribe’s tales.
          We have heard the myth of creation and the tale of the passage through the Red Sea. We have been to the Valley of Dry Bones and beyond to the calling of all people to the Kingdom.
          These stories, and the songs we have sung with them and the shadow silence we have shared—all that is enough.
          We should, by now, know who we are and whose we are and who we belong to.
          We belong to God. We are God’s children and God’s own beloved.
          The campfire is dying out. Night has come with earnestness.
          We long for something more—we lean toward new light, the dawn, new life.
          Once more and for always.
          Enough words have been spoken. It is time to be renewed, time to experience the resurrection, time to move on to Easter.
          Now we pass from darkness into light, from night to morning, from death to life. Just like that.
          Now we pass over into God’s joy and hope and wonder.
          Let there be Light! Let there be joy! Let there be wonder! Let there be Life!

Let the words stop and let us pass over to the celebration of the Feast of the Kingdom, the Heavenly Banquet, Easter.
          Alleluia, he is risen. (3 times)

8 a.m.
          It was women who met him after his resurrection. Go search the scriptures, go look at the gospels—women, always women.
          Always there is Mary Magdalene, she is always there in the gospel accounts. Sometimes she is with “the other Mary”—the mother of James, and Salome. But it is always and only women.
          Only women greet the risen lord first.

          Women are, after all, the givers of life—the mothers of us all. There is that. But I think there is more, much more that we must recognize and know.
          I think—and it’s just me thinking—that it is only the “feminine” that can initially recognize the risen lord.
          I don’t mean to leave you men out—oh, no—but I do mean to ask you to consider the “feminine” side of yourself.
          Carl Jung, the great psycho-analyst and philosopher in the first part of the 20th century, believed that all human beings had within them a masculine side and a feminine side. He wasn’t talking about “gender” at all, no not at all. He was talking about the two sides of every human being’s personality.
          The “masculine” in each of us, according to Jung, was the rational, thinking, rough and ready, active part of our personality.
          The “feminine” within each of us, was the irrational, feeling, compassionate and caring, passive side of who each of us are.
          Given Jung’s understanding of masculine and feminine—both of which are in all of us—it is little wonder that it was the women who met the risen lord.
Easter, 10:15, 2005
          Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
          I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.

          So, the women show up at the tomb—it is always the women, we need to notice and dwell on that, who see the resurrected Lord—and the angel tells them “do not be afraid.”
          Then, just after that, they meet Jesus, all alive again, and he tells them, “do not be afraid.”
          That is what Easter is about—not being afraid, fearing not, living in hope instead of anxiety, embracing the love of life rather than the fear of death.
          We are so afraid.
          We are so full of fear.
          And Easter is here to tell us, “do not be afraid”, live in hope.
          That poor woman in Florida, Terri Schiavo, longing to die…longing to die. And the whole nation is in an upset about her, the Congress and the President and all the Right to Life folks.
          We need not fear death. That is what Easter means.
          But most of us are so afraid of death that we value the technical definition of “life” more than we value “the quality of living”.
          “Do not be afraid”, live in hope.
          We are so afraid of terrorists that we turn against our fellow human beings because of where they were born or what religion they follow or what they believe.
          I read a story in a book the other day—a true story—about a couple who moved to a gated community in Florida. The complex was surrounded by walls and the gates policed by guards. And the longer they lived there—in this place designed to make the safe and sound—the more fearful they became. They came to fear leaving the compound and pass to the other side of the gates. They came to mistrust those who were allowed through the gates, even those who came to clean the pools and repair appliances and cut the grass. The more secure things became, the more fearful the couple became.
          We have become victims and prisoners of Fear since 9/11.  Fear is the “little death”—it robs us of the joy and spontaneity and wonder and surprise of living. We are locked in tombs of anxiety and fear. But Easter is about leaving our tombs behind. Easter is about Hope that drowns out fear.
          We have made a grave mistake, thinking “courage” and “strength” is the opposite of FEAR. If we can only be brave and courageous and strong and safe enough (we, as a people, we have convinced ourselves) we can overcome our all our fears.
          But that only involves us more deeply into fear and war and aggression.
          The opposite of FEAR, I tell you, is not COURAGE….it is HOPE.
          And HOPE is the message of Easter.

          Daniel Berrigan, the Roman Catholic priest and activist, wrote a poem about a clown mass.
          Clown masses were popular during the 60’s and 70’s. I did a few myself back in those heady days of hopefulness before our culture turned fearful and solemn. What would happen in a clown mass is someone dressed as a clown would shadow the priest—pantomiming the words of the service, acting things out, demonstrating the joy and humor we so often lose because we are so serious about the liturgy.
          It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Here’s how Berrigan’s poem ends:
                             The children ran together
                       At the clown’s sweet antic tune.
                            In wooden pews
                        The moody regents muttered woodenly.
                           At recessional, this was heard:
                     “Could Jesus have seen that, he’d have
                           turned over in his grave.”

          “Could Jesus have seen that, he’d have turned over in his grave….”
          We live in Fear instead of Hope, it seems to me, because we haven’t really believed Jesus got up out of his grave and lived again. We  haven’t really believed, not in a deep-down, bone and marrow level, in the Resurrection.
          I’m here to tell you Resurrection is Real.
          We need not be afraid.
          Life is stronger than death and hope is stronger than fear.
          Just that.
          Because of Easter we need not be afraid—life is stronger than death and hope is stronger than fear.
          That’s why we use Champaign for communion today. That’s why we wear bunny ears and use noise makers. That’s why we have bubbles. All of that is meant to shock us into believing that life is stronger than death and hope is stronger than fear.
          If that’s not true, we have nothing to hold onto—build walls and put up gates and be afraid of everything…..
          But it is true. It is true. It is true.
          Life is stronger than death and hope is stronger than fear.
          Just that.
          Leave your tombs of fear behind. Walk in the sunshine of Hope.
          He is risen….Christ is risen indeed…Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia….

Virtual church

We did virtual church again. We had lessons and a psalm and a gospel and I preached and we had prayers and a virtual communion and then a closing. Jeremiah played the organ at Emmanuel for a prelude and postlude and then we had a virtual coffee hour!

It was good to see people's faces on zoom, but I couldn't see the people on face book live or on their phones. But it was good to see people I haven't been together with for over a month.

We'll do this as long as we need to so we can be sure it's safe not to be in the same space together.

The people in the three churches are very hug-prone and I'm not sure when we'll go back to that.

Not the same thing, obviously, but way, way better than nothing.

Sunday is the day I really resent the virus. 'Church' gives a deep meaning to my life.

I miss it terribly.

Who are these people?

I've seen them on TV--protesting the closing of their states. They are almost all white, all angry and many of them are not wearing masks or keeping social distance. And many wear MAGA hats and wave, of all things, Confederate flags!

And the president is encouraging them in tweets to risk their lives and the lives of those they go home to in order to say "Open up, America!"

We can all agree that the closing of our economy because of the virus is a shame. But can't we all also agree that keeping people safe is more important than 'business as usual'? And what, once this pandemic has abated more, will 'business as usual' look like?

Not like it did a few months ago, I assure you.

I am horrified that these people are out there in Michigan and other states.

STAY HOME AND STAY SAFE should be on everyone's lips.

Yet there they are.

Who are these people and what are they thinking?

Friday, April 17, 2020

Today is my birthday

I was born 73 years ago today at Welch Memorial Hospital in Welch, WV, about 20 miles from Anawalt, where I grew up.

When I was born, the population of McDowell County--where Welch and Anawalt are, was over 98,000. Coal mining was booming and miners were paid well. Today, with all the deep mines closed, the population of McDowell--the southernmost county in West Virginia--is barely over 18,000. Imagine that, over 80% of the population is gone from a county about the size of Rhode Island!

About 20 years ago, some folks and I took a dozen kids from St. John's in Waterbury to Keystone, also in McDowell County, to do a work camp, working on houses of poorer people.

Back then the population of the county was 35,000. I took some of the kids across the mountain--any place in West Virginia is 'across the mountain' from where you are--to look at Anawalt. Even then, my heart broke in pieces. The place I remember from my youth no longer existed. The apartment where I grew up was gone, as was my Uncle Russel's house behind it. Nothing was the same. I was horrified.

When I grew up McDowell County (MAC-dowell to the natives) had 8 high schools. Now there are only two so some students ride a bus over an hour to and from school. Only 33% of students are proficient in reading and only 9% proficient in mathematics.

I have 4 degrees--BA, MTS, M.Div., D.Min--and I got my start in schools there.

Anyway, enough whining about my home county.

I was the only child of a father who was 40 and a mother who was 38. In those days, that was not the norm. My parents were friends with my classmates' grandparents.

We lived in a two bed-room apartment above one of the three grocery stores in town. No central heat and a bathroom that was outside the coal stove warmth of the apartment. I slept in "Pat's room" because before I was born a much older first cousin named Pat lived with my parents for several years.

But I knew nothing else and didn't mind.

When I was in high school I thought I wanted to go to Shimmer College in Chicago. (Now it's a part of the University of Chicago.) It was a 'great books' school and I was fascinated. But it required a year of a foreign language and the only language at Gary High was Latin. Students usually took Latin I and II in the 9th and 10th grade. So, there I was, a senior with kids 3 years younger than me.

I never went to Shimmer, but I thank God for them, because in Latin I I met Bernadine Pisano, love of my life and my wife for 50 years in September. What luck that was.

I've had a series of names. As a child I was Jimmy Gordon because I had a cousin named  'big Jim' and that distinguished me. In high school I was 'J. Gordon' as an affectation. My college friends know me as 'Brad', and now I'm just 'Jim'.

(By the way, my parents and I didn't live in a non-central heat apartment because they had no money. My mother was a school teacher and my father drove a laundry truck and sold insurance--Nationwide, which Bern and I have today.)

The year I left for West Virginia University, my parents paid cash for a house in Princeton, WV--in the county to the east, Mercer County. When I came home from college the first time I wondered if I had interrupted their lives and now they were back on track.

Much more to tell--12 years of higher education, marriage, two kids, ordination to the priesthood, 2 wondrous children and 4 incredible granddaughters, serving three remarkable churches in 30 years,
my 7 years of part time work since retiring, the books I read, the things I write here on this blog, my political beliefs that make Bernie Sanders look like a moderate, what I love to eat, how I sleep at least 9 hours a night, how precious Bern is, how much I love my life....

But that's enough for one birthday.

"Happy birthday to me, Happy birthday to me, Happy birthday, dear Jimmy, Happy birthday to me."

I do sing that washing my hands.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

phone call

I am part of a group of people who enroll people and lead the "Making A Difference Workshop".

It's for people in ministry--lay and ordained, of all faiths.

We had a workshop scheduled in mid-May at Holy Cross Monastery, an Episcopal monastery, in West Park, NY,. on the Hudson (beautiful place!) but that's not going to happen. We connect by phone on 'free conference call' every two weeks and then every week as we get closer to the workshop. Eight people on the line from all over the east coast and beyond.

We talked today about possibly September for the workshop but decided 'no'.

But what was great was the connection question. We start each call and each in person meeting with a 'connection question' to get us all in the same place before we start.

Today's question call from Pittsburgh: "what quality have you discovered about yourself in these difficult times that gives you and others strength?"

What I realized is that I discovered my being an 'only child' has helped me through this crisis.

Only children know how to entertain themselves. W don't need other people around.

I've never been 'bored'. When people say they are 'bored', I'm not sure what they mean or what it might feel like.

So, I haven't fretted about all this the way many have. I entertain myself. I don't get bored.

And that helps others, I think. They see my calm and self-satisfaction in my words and thoughts and way of being and it helps them cope: on line, on the phone, across the back yard fence.

Many times in my life, I've regretted being an 'only child' (until I speak with someone about their siblings!!!) but in these times I don't.

I'm fine, mentally and emotionally. I'm not lonely. I'm not bored.

I'm an aging 'only child'.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

What a joy!

I got a birthday card and letter from C. today. The card had a lion on the front and the envelope--she sent it UPS--had her rendering of the lion with "Jim" on his crown. She remembered I loved Aslan--I've got a dozen stuffed lions in our dining room.

She was a young woman when I met her 30 years ago. I officiated at her wedding and baptized both her children. Her mother was one of my favorite parishioners. She even remembered the patchwork coat and bunny ears I wore at Easter.

Her letter moved me deeply. It was about what I'd meant in her life.

It made me think I did the right thing by becoming an Episcopal priest instead of a college professor.

I appreciated that knowledge more than I can say.

I wrote her back and hope to talk with her on the phone or to email.

I also sent her my blog name. I hope she sees this post and knows how much I appreciated what she wrote.

Stuff like that is so much more than joy--it is what heaven must be like, if there is one.

I know a priest should be sure there is a heaven, but I just withhold judgement and leave all that stuff when we shuffle off this mortal coil to One greater than me.

The idea of Heaven is great. But forever???

Not sure about that.

At some point, it seems to me, life should be still and over.

Just me talkin'...or more accurately, writin'....

Thank you so much C. Love to you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Not so bad

Hope you're doing well.

We've been home now a month and it's not so bad.

But then, except for a couple of trips a week--to my group in Waterbury and to Church twice--I'm not out and about much.

Bern's women's group meets on Zoom a couple of times a week.

Neither of us were out in the world much before this started. I read a book a day before this--I read a book a day now. We used to go to the grocery store every day, now we go every three days or so. The Consignment Shop, that Bern frequented, is closed. I buy enough wine at a time to last 3 or 4 days, used to buy it almost daily.

Bern watches TV, I'm on line a lot.

But we were before the virus.

We've always talked to our neighbors at a distance and we still do.

So, we aren't as freaked out as some folks are by all this. Not so different as before.

I really feel for people who are at home with kids. The kids are the ones' whose routines have been smashed.

Bern talks to Eleanor or face time every day for an hour to give Tim and Mimi a break.

The Bradley girls in Baltimore told us on Zoom on Easter that they 'love' this. They do school work on line but also bake and cook and talk to their friends on line.

But I'm sure it's a very trying time for many, many people. Pray for them and reach out to the single people you know.

At least Bern and I can have social time with each other. I worry about those isolated and alone.

As a Buddhist would say, "this too shall pass". But the cost to some is enormous.

Wash your hands. Wear a mask when you go out. Shalom.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Easter Sermon

(Not the one I gave this year, just one I had from 2008)

          Dying is an astonishing thing.
          And, as far as I know or can tell, the only living creatures on this planet who “know” they are going to die are human beings, like you and me. My dog, God bless him, has no idea he is going to die someday.
          But you do know, don’t you…I know you do…somewhere in the back of your mind…that you’re going to die? You do know that, don’t you? Sooner or later, in one way or another, you will say your last words, take your last breath and shuffle off this mortal coil….
          Just like that….Here today, gone tomorrow.
          Each of us will, some day or another, ‘kick the bucket’, ‘buy the farm’, ‘pass away’, ‘exit the stage’,  die.
          I’m sixty years old—older than I ever imagined being, by the way—and it was just a few months ago when I finally admitted to myself that I am mortal, that I will die.
          When I turned onto exit 3 of Interstate 91, going to the Episcopal Church at Yale to celebrate a Eucharist and realized that the rain back up on the Interstate was black ice on the exit, I knew, in my heart, I was about to die. It was a moment I will never forget. The car started sliding out of control as soon as I hit the ice, and as I was spinning around in a 360 degree arc, I had two thoughts:
          The first thought was, much more calmly than I ever imagined it would be, simply this: I AM ABOUT TO DIE.
          The second thought followed hard on the first one, because things were happening very quickly…that thought was this: I’M ABOUT TO MESS UP CHRISTMAS FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE THIS YEAR….

          Obviously, I didn’t die. And, beyond the two plates in my left arm that gave me some impressive scars, I’m pretty much back to ‘normal’—though more people that you might think have commented that what is ‘normal’ to me is up for grabs….

          Herbert Hoover, the only president we’ve ever had who was known for not ‘saying much’, was stopped as he came out of church one Sunday by a reporter who asked, “Mr. President, what did the preacher talk about today?”
          Hoover said, simply, “Sin.”
          The reporter asked what the preacher said about sin and the President replied, “He’s agin’ it….”

          That’s what I have to say about dying. “I’m agin’ it.”
          I’ve lost some dear, lovely friends in the past year because they died. And “I’m agin’ it.”
          But there it is, waiting for us somewhere down the road—death.

          Jesus died.
          He died a horrible death—suffocation is what killed people who were crucified. The loss of blood and the nails and even the beating before that wasn’t what killed him. He died because, hanging on a cross, his diaphragm could no longer push air out of his lungs and he suffocated to death. Sometimes the executioners would break the legs of those being crucified to make sure death would come more quickly since the victim couldn’t hold himself up and make his diaphragm work.

          This is obviously not the Easter Sermon you came to hear. I’ve said nothing cheery yet.
          But there is this—after Jesus died…died as all of us will…--after that and after he was sealed in a tomb, he simply wasn’t dead anymore. In an instant that must have rocked the universe, he was alive again…and forever.
          That’s the Easter message: Life conquers Death.
          That’s what we should all carry in our hearts—today and always.
          No matter what befalls us—life conquers death.
          No matter how dark the day is—life conquers death.
          No matter how things fall apart—life conquers death.
          Now and forever and forever—life conquers death.
          That is my Easter message: Life Conquers Death.
          Alleluia, he is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia.
          Amen and Amen.
          Joyful Easter to you all.

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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.