Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Irony can be good

At the Wednesday study group at Trinity, Milton today, we were discussing having a Sunday Service in September to honor a long-time Trinity member who moved to Wilmington, NC and died in May.

Just then a Fed-Ex truck pulled into the parking lot and delivered an overnight envelope.

Trinity has a post office box in Litchfield and doesn't get mail at the church. And, if it had come any other day, no one would have been there.

It was from the man's widow, a lovely letter and a check for $5000 that he left to Trinity in his will.

His two favorite things about Trinity, his widow said was the music and Bible Study!

Talk about irony!

Then, as we were wrapping up the day, a wonderful state policeman came. Trinity had been defaced in Spray paint on Saturday--a Nazi symbol and the word VAR.

The policeman let us know there had been a similar defacing of a bridge in Litchfield, so the defacer is probably local.

Good to know the state police are on it.

Quite an eventful study day!


Monday, June 27, 2022

weight loss

I'm not sure how much, but I've lost 30 some pounds.

Friends ask me what was my secret.

I have no secret, I guess when under stress from the pandemic, I eat leas while most people eat more.

I've had to replace most of my pants and some of my shirts, that used to fit, look like I'm wearing drapes. I went from 40 inch waist size to 36 and a belt Bern bought me for Christmas wouldn't fit then, but now I'm on the third hole!

I feel better, I know that.

Except for having to buy new clothes!


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Coming back--I hope

I'm really glad I didn't stop writing Under the Castor Oil Tree, as I thought I might last month.

I've had 1700+ views this month so far.

A long way from the 5500 I had in March, but over 800 more than in April and May combined.

Maybe you're coming back.

I hope so.

I really do.

I enjoy writing these things so much that I want to keep doing it for as long as I can.

Thanks so much for logging in to read.

You give me joy by reading UtCOT.

I'll try to write everyday until we go on vacation the last week of August and first week of September.

So, keep reading....


Friday, June 24, 2022

His Shadow Falls

 The former President (whose name will not be printed here) is out of office. But his shadow fell over the Supreme Courts over turning of Roe v. Wade.

It was primarily the justices he appointed that voted to overturn in the 6-3 decision.

I'll let others, more savvy than I, do the details for you.

If you turn on the news you'll hear them all.

I'll just say that the audacity of over turning what has been the law of the land for 50 years has plunged our country back into the 1950's==bad times for women.

I've said before but will say again, just to be clear--I do not like abortion.

However, what I truly 'hate' is any branch of government telling us what we can and cannot do with our bodies.

My body is mine and yours is yours.

The right to 'choose' is a sacred right.

And the court has ripped that right away from women today.

The motto of Planned Parenthood is "We Won't Go Back!"

That should be our motto to as we work to reclaim reproductive rights for women.

Refuse to 'Go Back'!

Refuse and stand up for women's rights!

Thursday, June 23, 2022


Scientists tell me that birds are the last of the dinosaurs.

If so, I like dinosaurs.

Not ones that could destroy my house or eat me.

Glad they're gone.

But birds.

I love birds.

This spring and early summer we have so many birds in our back yard, I can't count them.

Flying marvels!

All colors and shapes.


Send in the birds and give me joy.


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

How butterflies fly

 I've heard that butterflies and moths fly in such uneven patterns is because of natural selection.

Those who fly straight are easy prey for birds.

The ones with defective flight get away.

So, over time, only butterflies that flew in an erratic ways were producing young--who inherited their flight pattern (or non-pattern, as it is).

Humans could take a lesson from that.

Don't be so predictable your next action can be taken for granted. Then people will have you 'figured out' and you never surprise them.

Flit this way and that way from time to time.

Keep others guessing and not sure how to take you.

Works for me.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

This week's sermon


          When I was Rector of St. Paul’s in New Haven I became the unlikely good friend of Bob, the Rector of Christ Church, New Haven.

          It was an unlikely friendship since Christ Church was the extremely Anglo-Catholic, “high church” that had smells and bells and chanting and more genuflecting than is good for your knees full of academics from Yale and successful business people and lawyers. St. Paul’s, on the other hand, was a rather low-church full of social activists who would protest most anything at the drop of a hat.

          Nevertheless, Bob and I became good friends.

          The week before he was retiring and moving to Cape Cod, we had a farewell lunch.

          During lunch, Bob told me a remarkable story.

          “For thirty years,” he told me, “I’ve prayed everyday for God to speak to me out loud and in English and tell me what I should do with my ministry.”

          It was an odd prayer, I thought, but I accepted it from Bob.

          Then, after a few bites, he said, “and last week that prayer was answered.”

          I choked on my wine when he said that, and sitting my glass down with trembling hands.

          Then Bob said, “God spoke to me out loud and in English with a slight Southern accent and said, rather annoyed with me, ‘Bob, DO THE NEXT THING!’”

          In today’s extraordinary lesson from 1st Kings, Elijah is fleeing in terror and makes a long journey, with the help of an angel who feeds him, into the wilderness to Mount Horeb. He’s awakened in his cave and told the Lord would be passing by.

          After a great wind, and earthquake the a rain of fire there comes a sound of ‘sheer silence’, God spoke to him and told him to go home and ‘do the next thing’ of his mission.

          Then, in the Gospel, Jesus is in a Gentile land and frees a man possessed by a ‘legion’ of demons. A ‘legion’ is a large number. Jesus sends them into a herd of pigs who run into the lake and drown.

          Not good for the pigs or their swineherds.

          (Would Jesus had allowed the demons to enter cattle or a flock of ducks? I don’t know. But the Jewish rejection of pork may have played a role. Who knows?)

          Jesus was told by the people of that land that they were afraid of him and he must leave. But Jesus left the healed man who proclaimed his holiness to all the land.

          And Jesus returned to Galilee to DO THE NEXT THING in his ministry.

          That’s what you and I are called to do, beloved. We are called to ‘do the next thing’ in our ministry.

          On this Juneteenth, that means to do our part for racial equality and equal treatment for people of color.

          Just as we must ‘do the next thing’ in proclaiming the Good News to the people of Litchfield and beyond by feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, seeking justice for all and reaching out to all people with love and acceptance.

          We must ‘do the next thing’ in our community and in our world.

          We must proclaim and do the work of the gospel.

          But we must also “BE” the gospel, the good news, to ourselves.

          The next thing is to BE the gospel, my brothers and sisters.

          Be the ‘Good news’—today and always….




Holy Cross

 The monastery is a holy and peaceful place.

Shane and Maggie and I led the Making A Difference workshop for 18 participants. 

But I couldn't sleep well there and didn't like the monastery food!

So, I am doubly thankful for being home.

Bern fixed a great dinner last night and I had a waffle, bacon and an egg for breakfast.

Besides that I slept more hours last night than in the 3 nights at the retreat house.

There is no place like home!

Rest and good food is there, as is the companionship of Bern and our dog, Brigit.


Monday, June 13, 2022

Going to Holy Cross

 I'm leaving in the morning to lead the Making A Difference workshop at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York.

Won't be back until Friday afternoon.

So expect a few days of silence on my blog since I don't have a lap top computer and do all this on my desk top.

See you when I get back.

Shalom, Jim

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Cool June Day

It was, today, cool for June.

No rain but lots of clouds.

The January 6 committee had it's first prime time hearing this week and another on Monday at 10.

They are breaking down the insurrection on the Capital and things might just lead (looking like they will!) to the former President.

God knows we need clarity and answers.

The committee might just deliver both.

I hope so.

We are so divided as a nation we need clarity and truth--though not all will believe it.

Our divide is over how we see reality.

I pray the committee will give us reality that is not hard to see.

That's what I hope.


Saturday, June 11, 2022

I've not been writing much here

My readership on this blog has fallen off so much I've been thinking more about what went wrong than about writing blogs.

In March I had over 5100 views. So far, almost half way through June, I've had 734, which is up from the 540 in May and the 499 in April, but nowhere near the over 5000 views in March.

I don't know what's wrong or what I wrote that turned people off.

I wish I knew and if I could do anything about it.

If you can think of a reason, let me know in a comment or by email at

I'll keep writing though and sharing my ponderings.

I'll be gone leading a workshop from the 14th to the 17th. And in the back of my mind I'll be pondering what caused such a precipitous drop.

Keep dropping by.

I miss the ones who are not.


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Sunday's Sermon



          For most of my career, I’ve been able to avoid preaching on Trinity Sunday.

          At St. James in Charleston, West Virginia, I had a retired priest helper and a deacon, so they got Trinity Sundays.

          At St. Paul’s in New Haven, I had lots of seminarians to assign the day to.

          At St. John’s in Waterbury, there were clergy aplenty—active and retired, seminarians and a lay assistant to give Trinity Sunday to.

          At my time in the Middlesex Cluster all I could do was call in sick or mumble a non-sense sermon on this day.

          It’s time I faced up to the Truth—the Trinity baffles me and I don’t know what to say on this day.

          Two stories that give proof to my point.

          Eldridge Cleaver, in his autobiography Soul on Ice, tells how, when he was in prison, he saw the opportunity to be in a Roman Catholic confirmation class. He knew it would get him out of his cell for a couple of hours a week, so he signed up.

          At some point the priest who was leading the course asked if anyone could explain the ‘mystery of the Trinity.”

          Eldridge was about to raise his hand after a time of silence and say something about ‘three-in-one oil’ when the priest proclaimed, “of course you can’t, it’s a ‘mystery’!”

          Cleaver dropped the class.

          A second story.

          St. Augustine was on a beach pondering the way to figure out the Trinity, when he saw a small boy, with a bottle on the shore.

          The boy was actually an angel!

          Augustine went over to him and said, “what are you trying to do?”

          The boy/angel answered “I’m trying to get the ocean into my bottle.”

          Agustine laughed and said, “You can’t get the ocean into that bottle!”

          And the angel boy replied, “then how can you seek to comprehend the Trinity?”

          And, along with his bottle, disappeared.

          Three in one and one in three makes very little sense to me.

          One plus one plus one is three—not ‘one’. Yet in the doctrine of the Trinity, all three are One….

          But ponder this: one times one times one is One!

          The Trinity defies our logical mathematics.

          Paul writes to the church in Rome: “and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

          All I can pray for is that hope and that love and that the Holy Spirit will pour into our hearts.

          You’ve probably noticed that in my blessing at the end of each service, I don’t say ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’—I say instead, ‘God, our creator, Jesus our Savior and the Holy Spirit, our companion.’

          That’s the best I can do about the Trinity.

          I just hope it is enough….


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Sunday's Sermon



        Today is the feast of Pentecost, when the Spirit fell like fire and wind on the disciples, just as Jesus promised in today’s Gospel.

        “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send to you in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave you with; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

        So, on this day, the Spirit came and the disciples, according to Acts, took the Spirit to the people and all who heard them, heard them in their own language.

        So, my question is: did the disciples speak in multiple tongues or did the Holy Spirit give all the people the power to hear in their own language?

        The Spirit is powerful.

        I remember a hymn from my childhood in the Pilgrim Holiness church that went like this: “Come on Holy Spirit, but don’t stay long. Come on Holy Spirit, but don’t stay long.”

        Pilgrim Holiness people did not speak in tongues, but, from time to time, someone in the congregation would be ‘slain in the Spirit’.

        I remember my fear and horror as people I knew fell to the floor as the Spirit touched them.

        That’s why they didn’t want the Holy Spirit to ‘stay long’. Everyone would have been on the floor!

        Today the Fire falls and the Wind blows in the area where we are.

        Don’t be ‘slain’, but do open your heart to receive the Spirit as it comes to our midst.

        The lesson from Genesis tells us of a time when all the people in the world spoke the same language.

        They built a city with a tower to be one with God.

        Yahweh was concerned about what all they might do, so God came down and confused their languages, so they could not communicate easily with each other.

God know that God did a good job!

There are hundreds of languages in the world and we have difficulty understanding each other.

Translators at the U.N. are often unable to accurately translate some of the words of one language into another. How would “pull the wool over your eyes” make sense in Chinese or Russian or the languages of Africa?

Can you imagine all the people of the world speaking the same language? I can’t.

But the Holy Spirit can come and give us ears to hear and hearts to understand.

Let the fire fall on you this day.

Let the wind blow through your soul.

Be still and know the Spirit in your heart and God within you.

Be still and know.



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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.