Sunday, August 28, 2016

... and Life Is Good

Lazy bones, sleepin’ in the sun
how you gonna get your day’s work done?
Never get your day’s work done
sleepin’ in the noonday sun.

Lazy bones, sleepin’ in the shade
how you gonna get your livin’ made?
Never get your livin’ made
sleepin’ in the evenin’ shade.

Welcome! Sunday morning, age to age shall say:


Yesterday after the service for Ray we came home, poured a glass of red, cab it was, last of a bottle of Chateau St. Michelle. Linda dug out of my right ear with tweezers, the little soft plastic “dome” that had slipped off of my hearing aid, I was always concerned that might happen. I transposed funeral homily to +Time, posted, linked on FB, and tried a nap. Nap didn’t work, mind still twirling.

Five years ago last month, my mother died, July 17, 2011, a rainy Sunday morning. That afternoon after making my calls and agreeing with my brother and sister to postpone mama’s service for two weeks until all the nieces and nephews got back from vacation, I got melancholy for fried mullet, which'd been a supper staple in my growing up years, fried mullet and grits. So that evening we went to - - it’s "Sue’s on 390" now, at the time it was something else before it was J.Michael's - - we each had a mullet platter, stopped by the Bay at sunset and I snapped some shots. One of them is the screen pic on my oldest MacBook, picture of sunset on the last day I shared life on earth with my mother. Mullet helped. Sunset did not.

Yhis past Monday evening the sadness was so excruciating and building that we went three blocks up Beck Avenue to Enzo’s for pizza and a beer. I had a small thin crust with double anchovies and a Stella, Linda a small supreme and ice water, and we shared the iceberg lettuce with blue cheese dressing. 

Been to Enzo's quite a few times, first time was January 2015, right after we moved to 7H, and knowing they went there, I asked the waitress if she knew Ray Wishart. Oh sure, she said, Ray and Diane close the place down every — I think she said Saturday — night. So wherever Ray goes for pizza, I go for pizza. First it was the Mellow Mushroom at PCB, then Enzo’s. He had a pizza place in NYC too. Do they have pizza in heaven? Pizza and beer? I certainly hope so. What kind of beer? Anchovies?

Anyway, after yesterday morning’s service at St. Andrew’s the downers ignited, and later the day grew the worse it got. (This is not a diary nor a journal, it's my own personal blog, where I muse what I DWP.) Remembering the day mama died, I suggested we go out to Lynn Haven and have mullet at Crawdads. Linda driving, me snapping a selfie. Light blue shirt with his company insignia that Joe and Patty gave me years ago, that cap says Apalachicola, I bought it there a few months ago. The extra bit of face below my bottom lip on my right side is scar tissue from my careless trip and fall at church two years ago. And I see the eyelids are drooping again. 


Whoever loves REAL old fashioned fried mullet, go to Crawdads. The mullet dinner is two whole mullet, and like it’s supposed to be, they leave the backbone in. You get two small sides, I get Cajun dishes. They do not serve Episcopal beverages, so ice water. We’ve been there several times and hope they’re there as long as Bubba is in 7H. I ate one of my mullet and the skin from Linda’s mullet. Mullet skin, fried, salty, oily and scrumptious.  


I also munched the crispy fish tails from all four mullet, been doing that nearly eight decades. In the go-box, waiting for me to eat breakfast, is my other whole mullet and half of one of Linda’s mullet, but it's late and I'm just heating the half. 

Who doesn't like mullet, I cannot help you. It reminds me: May or June 1984 I made an appointment and went in to my bishop's office downtown Harrisburg  PA and told him I was accepting a call to Trinity, Apalachicola. He exclaimed, "Apalachicola?!! I know it well. It's the end of the earth. There's nothing to do there, whatever will you do?" Dearly loved and a friend, my Pennsylvania bishop had once been Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of Florida in Jacksonville, and had visited Trinity Church many times. I said, "I'll eat oysters and mullet!" Charlie says, "And what will you do when you get tired of oysters and mullet?" At this there's no point in continuing the conversation, because he obviously is a Yankee. You don't get tired of oysters and mullet.

Anyway, like my memory supper that Sunday evening in 2011, this was a cheering meal, comfort food for a Panama City native - until we drove south on Ohio Avenue heading home and a restaurant has huge letters on their billboard, MR. WISHART, YOU WILL BE MISSED. And it all come back. Time, where are you when I need you? 

But then Joe called from Winston-Salem. His Volvo S-60 is going on 40k miles, so he browsed the Volvo showroom, looked at a red-orange S-60 and a white V-60 and decided to wait a year. Finished his Qatar airways project and is on something else now. Has a friend with a pilot license whom he goes up with now and then. Joe calls about once a week, usually when he's waiting in the carwash line, "Hi, Pop! It's your boy!" Cheering call last evening.

After Joe's phone visit I watched a Steven Spielberg movie, "Empire of the Sun." Though tense and the end is quite emotional, the movie is superb, moving. I loved it, and the music, and I finished last evening lifted up, on the way hopefully, with the rest of my life.

As I type I’ve got my earbuds in, a 3-hour music video on YouTube. Sunday has come as promised and here in 7H, as another of my caps proclaims, Life Is Good. 

it's just Bubba here, Adonai, standing on the promises

Saturday, August 27, 2016

All You Need Is Love



All You Need Is Love

Homily for Ray Wishart
Saturday morning, August 27, 2016
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Panama City, Florida
The Reverend Tom Weller


I shall speak of Love: the love of Jesus. You may be seated.

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)

Jesus said “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another. As I have loved you, that you love one another. By this, all will know you are my disciples, that you love one another.”

Now abide faith, hope, and Love, these three; but the greatest of these is Love.

Hundreds upon hundreds of friends and students and family who love Ray Wishart and know he loved us, flooded the air with memories this week, memories and stories. More stories and memories last evening at Mosley High School, in the most extraordinary burst of love and gratitude I’ve ever known. 

My mind also has been filled with stories. One: that years ago, Ray and I mentored an Education for Ministry group here at St. Andrew's Church on Monday evenings. There were twelve of us. We often began with Holy Communion here in this room, and the Gospel was always “Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith: thou shalt love …” 

Some forty years ago, perhaps it was evening, a young man in hippie beard and long hair meets a pretty and appealing girl, and is bowled over, head over heels in love at first sight. He asks her, “Will you marry me?” Somewhat taken aback, she says, “Maybe we should date and get to know each other first.” Ray and Diane married these nearly forty years, and Ray Wishart last Monday morning before he rode away into eternity on his bicycle, still as smitten in love as that first evening forty years ago, booking a love boat cruise with the Love of his Life.

Round the table in my office conference room at Holy Nativity, another EfM group gathers for Wednesday evening seminar, (it is one of three EfM groups Ray and I are mentoring together at the time) Ray sitting at the table - Rebekah comes in, leans over, puts her arms around her daddy, hugs him, kisses his head, and whispers something. Watching this, I’m thinking, “I wish a daughter loved me that much, like that, and not caring who sees it, knows it.”

Summer 2007, we are planning a wedding. I never preach at weddings, but Rachelle and Don want me to preach anyway. Somehow or other, I don’t recall, almost a decade ago, Ray tells me they’re moving to Orlando, they have little money, I think Ray said Rachelle did not have a job yet, Ray says they think all they need is love and that’s not true. Ray and I talk about the Yellow Submarine, and so the wedding theme in my mind becomes the Beatles’ hit song, “All you need is love / All you need is love / All you need is love, love / Love is all you need.” Totally wiping me out, Will Thompson’s group played it and we sang it again last night in a packed gym at Mosley High School. Nine years ago it squared with how I saw Rachelle and Don looking at each other ~ and it tells everything I’ve known over the years about Ray and Diane Wishart and their girls.

Jesus said “God is love.” Ray Wishart, taking Jesus very seriously into his heart, as he did, Ray epitomized that divine essence — in his Christian ministry — in his generosity sharing his many talents — and all the forty years and generations of students in his classroom. ἀγάπη: love is kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness. A former student wrote this week, “He was not just a teacher, he was an inspiration. He was not just a teacher, he was a person who touched so many lives. He was not just a teacher, he was someone that stood out from the rest. He was not just a teacher, he was a role model. Loved by so many and always remembered — I don’t remember much from my past, but I always remembered you. I told my kids stories about your class. I told my kids how much you meant to me. You were one of my few stories that I had. You were my teacher and for that I’m thankful. I don’t think you realized how much of an impact you had on so many lives. I always looked forward to classes I never wanted to leave. He was not just a teacher, he was part of my life.” 

All this week of such terrible anguish it has been impossible in hundreds upon hundreds of tributes to Ray, to separate intense personal grief from overwhelming love, because they are blended in our sense of loss of this gifted and loving man. Throughout the community, and from across the country people are remembering and telling Ray Wishart stories, because every one of us has a story of how he touched us, what he meant to us, what he did for us, how he helped us, what we learned from him, what we saw in him, including seeking Christ and seeing Ray. Stories from his classroom of his kindness, encouragement and inspiration. Of bus trips to New York: students being trusted, and so learning to be trustworthy and to love each other by looking out for each other. New York pizza. New York Sundays at St. Paul’s chapel near the twin towers of 9/11. I once asked, “Ray, why don't you take those kids by plane?” and he said “Because I personally know every single person on my bus. I know and trust my driver. I know every student on my bus. I know every adult on my bus. I know every student is safe with me on my bus. I could not say that about any airplane.” 

Love is — you could trust your life and even your children with Ray Wishart.

Lord, which commandment is the greatest?
What does the law say? 
You shall love God, and you shall love others. 
Go and do likewise, do this and you will live. 

As surely as anyone I’ve ever known, Ray Wishart lived into and up to Jesus’ love commandment. In his church as lay and ordained minister, and throughout his life as friend, lover, husband, father, grandfather, teacher, διάκονος: servant.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? Seeking Christ, I saw Jesus in you, Ray Wishart. My heart is broken, but I have seen Christ in you.

Our service this morning is an Easter liturgy, filled with Hope for our resurrection as Jesus himself was raised. And so gently now, Hopefully in prayer, and especially for you, Diane; and you, Rachelle; and you, Rebekah, we pray: Jesus, our loving Savior: fill our lives with your Holy Spirit. Give courage and faith to all who are bereaved, that we may have strength to meet the days ahead, in the comfort of a reasonable and holy Hope, in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those we love.

Love is all you need, we have Jesus’ word on it. We commend Ray Wishart into the loving arms of our Lord Jesus, 

whose love - is all you need.

+++++++++++++++

Photo: Rachelle found this in the pictures, posted it the next morning, saying this is how she pictures Ray in heaven. Of all the pictures posted of Ray this week, this one touches me most deeply. Tom+



Saturday dawn


Forest Panama 442x69 arriving from Colon 0517 hours with cargo, next port Limon. 

How long before it's not the first thing that comes to mind upon awakening? 

Dawn does come, comes anyway. And Sunday is coming, Easter, even Easter, with the dawn.




Friday, August 26, 2016

in Time


Barge across the way, tug with her barge in large letters Express Marine, Inc anchored in the far channel. Last evening we watched them settle for the overnight, who knows where they’re headed. Likely off at first light and gone when I return from the Friday morning walk.

Still numb, mind somehow shut down since Monday. It will recover In Time because there's nowhere else to go, maybe starting tomorrow, Saturday afternoon, but I neither hope So or Not. 

Wanted: Harry Potter’s time-turner, a world with a different sort of magic making all things new.

... gulls swooping by and dipping down as light comes



Noontime: tug and Express Marine barge departed, back out into the Gulf.




Thursday, August 25, 2016

JustTom here, Lord

Courage, my soul


Years ago, when the Navy had me in an MBA program at the University of Michigan, we lived in an old style housing project that doubtless dated from a WorldWar2 housing shortage. Our own apartment was private, we had an end unit with windows on three sides — somewhere around here is a picture of us at the picnic table we had out front, with Joe, Jody then, sitting on the table and me giving him a haircut — and out behind the rows of long project units (long buildings like “Drummond Park” and “Annie B. Sale” that we had here in Panama City to help accommodate the wartime population explosion) was a long, wide open grassy area where families picnicked and visited, and where there were always many children playing, and mothers could see and watch the children from the apartments, and it was safe. That seems long ago in earth years and human Time. 

It was a special Time of life, and one thing I especially remember is the ending, every part of life has an End Time, doesn’t it. We had PCS orders from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Yokosuka, Japan, which was to be a three-year tour of duty. It was spring 1963 and we had a limited Time of leave before reporting to San Francisco for our flight to Japan, and we wanted to make the most of the Time with family in Panama City. So we packed out early, before my university semester ended, and Linda, Malinda and Jody flew home to Panama City while I stayed on in the apartment for the last couple weeks of classes and finals.

During that Time, one of enormous loneliness for me, every evening I would walk out into the open area and watch as the sun set, dusk came on, and day settled into darkness. The end of our day in my Time, the beginning of the new day in Bible Time. Anyway, I found that it was the magic hour to be poetic, theological, and a philosopher. Sunset does that to lots of folks, and I think it must be that the day ending stirs emotional awareness of the passing of Time, and of its ending, and memories of what went before, of what used to be. 

My poetry was really bad, mawkish maudlin; but when one feels alone and searing loneliness, it doesn’t matter that the poetry is doggerel, the theology doubtful, and the philosophy rubbish.

Out on 7H porch with coffee and chocolate this morning I snapped what I thought would be a picture of the day’s beginning. With the iPhone camera on PANO, panorama, over my Bay, because that’s what I knew was there, I expected lighted condos on Thomas Drive, round past the tall flashing red light on the tower beyond Courtney Point where yesterday afternoon we watched CS Caprice (586x92) glide by before loading wood chips and on to Liverpool, 


across Shell Island, Davis Point, Redfish Point, the east end of StAndrewsBay, CoveCondo at Cherry Street and EastBeachDrive to downtown Panama City and on round to WBeachDrive and home at 7H. But what I got was darkness, the picture above. Time, maybe I needed, need, a bit more Time before the darkness starts to lift and lighten into dawn. I do know that dawn will come, the morning light appear, it will happen. If not by certainty, I know by faith.

At a clergy conference twenty-five or thirty years ago, we learned a spiritual hymn,

O courage, my soul, and let us journey on,
For tho’ the night is dark, it won’t be very long.
O thanks be to God, the morning light appears,
And the storm is passing over, Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The storm is passing over,
Hallelujah!



JustTom here, Lord

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

no pic

Nice out here this morning, too dark to read the weather bar with temperature and humidity, but the breeze is cool, gentle, and pleasant. As my orange cap says, Life Is Good. Quiet now too, the shrimp boat having puttered round the channel bend and home to her berth in StAndrews Marina. Life is good. Not always as good as my orange cap proclaims, not as good as it was forty-eight hours ago, but good.

It just won’t go away will it, the sadness, swelling in chest and throat. My years, I never could weep until the day I sold my house (well one other Time long ago in Time, not in God years but in Time) and since then it’s come too easy. Not manly, is it, we don’t do this. I realize it’s too soon and getting through takes Time, but each of us is gift to someone, and 
  there never seems to be enough Time
  To do the things you want to do, 
     once you find them 

Jim Croce, 1973, remember? I do.

What I learn in Time is that we don’t belong to each other as we think, as we feel, we’re gift, and Time is what my father used to call an Indian Giver (no offense bitte, no offense). Life is gift, and so are those we love.

Life is short, and we haven’t much Time
to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us. So be quick to Love, says the blessing, and make haste to be kind.

Ray wasn’t mine even the years I felt he was. He just kept moving through life and Time, gladdening hearts. Loving and being loved. He belonged to many people and many people belonged to him, all of them gifts, most of them generations of high school students. Each of us thought he was ours. I wanted him to be an Episcopal priest and have a church, his church would have more children and young people than he could count; but he decided being an Episcopal deacon was his avocation, he already had more children and young people than he could count, and he wasn’t about to give up being their teacher. And when the time came, I didn't even like giftng him to another church.

Time catches up, and gift is taken back, and all of us who thought Ray was ours are stunned. Time also heals, doesn’t it. I certainly hope so.

No pic this morning, I couldn’t get a decent time exposure of Bay and lights. Ever since moving here I’ve not been able to get the shots I wanted, but I wouldn’t complain aloud because I knew Ray would offer to teach me, and I knew he would find me the worst student he’d ever had.

T


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Stories



Life is a gift, isn’t it. A free gift. Life comes to this one and that one as it will, and moves on. I never had a right to Ray Wishart as a friend in my life, Ray was a gift, a special and unexpected gift who just happened to me. It started in 1998 when I retired from parish ministry and came home to Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, and Ray was there and one of those who sat next to me behind the Altar on Sunday mornings, behind the Altar and under the Christ, under Jesus. If the sermon was overly long, I would notice Ray looking up at the Christ figure for the real message. 

Everyone who knew Ray has a story this morning, stories. Ray was a teacher for forty years, maybe the most popular and loved teacher in all the history of Bay County, and he taught several generations, all of whom will be remembering their Ray Wishart stories this morning. 

He wasn’t a teacher only, he was a gift. In fact, one of my stories is that for a while I got to be Ray’s teacher, he enrolled in a course I was mentoring and offering at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church starting, it must have been 2003, and Ray signed up. It’s EfM, Education for Ministry, a four-year course offered at locations round the world by our School of Theology at Sewanee, the University of the South, and I offered it here, and Ray registered. Those first four years, Ray was a gift to me and to members of the EfM class, so much so that I began to see something more, and started asking him, remembering that people had stirred and prompted me by asking me decades earlier, if he had ever considered or felt a call toward ordained ministry. We had lots of chats about it, especially late evenings after EfM, and Ray and Jesus took it from there, and everyone who knew Ray knows the rest of that story, it doesn’t need my telling. As for EfM, before that part of the story ended, I took Ray in as co-mentor, and in time he and I were leading three different EfM courses together, three classes a week at different times and places. In 2010 when I had to step out for health reasons, Ray simply continued. What a gift he was.

This morning I have to keep reminding myself that I never had a right to Ray and our friendship, he was a gift. A gift of God’s gracious lovingkindness. Thank you, God. 

Why, God? Why?


Tom