Monday, January 22, 2018

summertime

55°F and cloudy, one planet in the eastern sky when I looked out upon arising at four o’clock. May be 70°F or close today, returning to a proper Florida Gulf Coast winter. I never figured out WTH all that bitter cold was about, jiminy christmas, I’ve lived in Rhode Island, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and finally got home to Florida for good reasons, including a boyhood of barefoot, short pants and shirtless winters. 

Once the weatherman fully regains his senses the only thing I’ll miss is getting up predawn mornings to streaks of lightning on the near horizon over the Gulf, and rolling, rumbling thunder as the black clouds move toward 7H. But summer should take care of that such that again the difference between summer and winter is whether there’s lightning. 

My years growing up: a hot house, my upstairs bedroom, on the right going up the stairs, my bed pushed over against the open window, the attic fan drumming and pulling in cooler, or at least moving, air across my head lying on my pillow on the windowsill. Best as in good better best until the fan started pulling in rain on my head and I had to close the window, or my father got up and turned off the attic fan. 



Growing up years at our house, installation of that attic fan was the best thing that ever happened. It was a huge fan, involved cutting a large hole in the ceiling at the top of the stairs, automatically opening and closing louvres, and building an enormous shed dormer on the back roof. 

That might have been about the time a second under-roof closet was added in each upstairs bedroom, on the back, a story for another time. Or perhaps already told.

DThos+ 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Apprentice Jesus (sermon)

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ. I shall speak of it. You may be seated.

Mark 1:14-20
After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.


I have a call story, you have a call story, every Christian has a call story even if it’s just, only, and simply Jesus’ claim on you at your baptism. You are called. “Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ.”

Do you believe in God the Father? I believe. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God? I believe. Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit? I believe. Big deal, James 2:19 and throughout the Gospel of Mark even the demons believe and they are not Christians! But you are Christian, and your call as a Christian is not to believe, but to DO, to live a life of love and sacrifice because of what you believe about Jesus. 

What is a Christian? A Christian is someone who, because of believing certain things about Jesus of Nazareth, has promised, and earnestly endeavors, earnestly endeavors, earnestly endeavors to live the life of Jesus no matter what, even if life is the Way of the Cross and ends on a Cross. If you did not know that, know it now. If you never realized the depth of your contract with God, read the fine print and find out this morning, because you have promised, and you are committed. Listen: “Most gracious God, we give you thanks for your tender love in sending Jesus Christ to come among us, to be born of a human mother, and to make the way of the cross to be the way of life”*.

What is a Christian? You are a Christian, and by your life you show, day by day, hour by waking hour you show another human being, someone you may know, or you may never know - - what Jesus is like, how to be like Jesus, who Jesus is: You. You are the image of God. As a disciple, you are an Apprentice Jesus. I look at you and I see God the Son. You look in the mirror and you see Jesus, you see one who, as an Apprentice Jesus, is becoming all that Jesus is. Will you? Will you live that life? “I will, with God’s help,” you promise. But it starts, it started, at Baptism: you cannot delay, you cannot put it off by saying, “God never showed up to help me.”

I love comic strips, including lifelong favorites and old memories. In my lifetime, back in the 1940s, during World War Two we had adventure comics of American war heroes. There was Captain America. Don Winslow, US Coast Guard. Wonder Woman, who flew up and stopped the propellers of enemy airplanes (this was before jet planes). Captain Easy, US Army. And one I especially remember, Buz Sawyer, ace Navy fighter pilot, and his white-hat sailor sidekick, Roscoe Sweeney. Sweeney had a sister, Lucille Sweeney, a college football star too big, muscular, strong and tough to be tackled or stopped, knocking all defense players aside to run touchdown after touchdown. 

And with Bus Sawyer and the Sweeneys there were the Squatleys, Ma and Pa Squatley and their shiftless, no-count, good-for-nothing Squatley offspring, a pigpen family of old fashioned white trash whose living conditions were lazy sloth, filth, garbage, flies and clutter. Why am I telling you this? Because one time, Sweeney, visiting the Squatleys at their home, asked why the house and yard were always such a mess. Ma Squatley explained in self-pity, “Don’t nobody never come to clean up fo’ us.” Which comes round to the baptismal question “Will you?” and your answer, “I will if God comes to help.” Father Steve preached about this a year or two ago: it’s no good saying, “God never came to help,” because at your baptism you became a Temple of the Holy Spirit: God lives in you, and strengthens his divine presence every time you hear the gospel, pray the prayers, eat the bread and sip the cup of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ; so your excuses fall flat.

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ. How, how do we follow, how are we to follow the call of Jesus Christ, to what are we called, what are we to do? Easy, incredibly easy, spelled out for you line by line in your contract with God. 

From the pew rack in front of you, open your prayerbook, open to page 302, it’s different this time, page 302. 

Page 302, middle of the page:

Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God? I renounce them.

Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God? I renounce them.

Do you renounce the sinful desires that draw you from the love of God? I renounce them.

Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior? I do.

Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love? I do.

Do you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord? I do. 

Now turn to page 304, this is our Baptismal Covenant. There are three “I believe” paragraphs, but I’m not concerned about what you claim to believe, because if you didn’t believe you wouldn’t be here this morning; I’m concerned about the fine print, what you promise God you will do because of what you believe, so down on the page:

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers? I will, with God’s help.

Will you persevere in resisting evil and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? I will, with God’s help.

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Jesus? I will, with God’s help.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? I will, with God’s help.

Will you strive for justice and peace among ALL people, and respect the dignity of EVERY human being? I will, with God’s help. 

You see the answers? This is what you have to do, how easy it is to become Jesus for others. This is what and how, dear people. So do it. 

For God's sake, for the love of Christ, just do it.

++++++++++

Sermon in Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Panama City, Florida, Sunday, January 21, 2018. The Rev. Tom Weller. Reprinted not pridefully but solely to keep a longstanding promise to a dear friend. TW+

* BCP page 430, The Blessing of the Marriage

Saturday, January 20, 2018

That wants it down."

What I am seeing? Never do I begin a blog with myself, the word “I” and seldom or never a paragraph, if I'm paying attention to myself. A sentence maybe, some sentences, but in mid-paragraph. 



Reading skillful prose, a beautiful essay, I’m seeing that it’s virtually - - virtual, virtually, not a good word these days, its meaning is lost to cultural rot - - virtually indistinguishable from poetry, some poetry. Astronomy* and poetry are indistinguishable, who doubts this should get a telescope and point it at the sky on a clear night, you will stand transfixed and transported. And poetry. Not doggerel such as I used to write evenings at sunset, but poetry. Frost, I’ve been reading Robert Frost (1874-1963), a lifelong favorite. Frost and about Frost, why? maybe because of high school, Miss Faye's class? maybe because I recall Robert Frost beautifully from my years at UnivFlorida when he came through twice a year, in the fall on his way south from home in New England to his winter place in Florida, again springtime returning home, and stopped by to read to us. It’s almost a dream now, auditorium packed standing room only and get there early or stand outside to listen. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" he read and said, "there's no death in that," I watched him and heard the man himself say it. So I have a book. And there’s more on line, today A Boy's Will, his first successful book, published in England. A lot, I’ve read a lot of him, and North of Boston, his first successful book of poetry upon returning to America from England. 

Okay, poetry, essays, and the firmament. There’s no difference in Frost’s poetry and an article about Black Holes in far out and away galaxies of the universe. Or even in Frost, astronomy, and Fahima Haque’s lyrical lament about Aziz Ansari** (“I’m Torn Over Claims Against Aziz Ansari” NYT20Jan2018), all magical. And, before Fahima and similar base, I remember a Jew, maybe a rabbi, maybe any appalled or heartbroken Jew, I don’t recall, who wrote “thanks a lot, Bernie” to Bernie Madoff. Madoff’s blasphemy against the Jewish race of humanity was beyond equal, even his son's suicide because of what Bernie did, so evil to so many and it coming home in heartbreaking horror. Now, for brown people, Mr. Ansari their hero becomes their tarnisher. They are horrified. Their tarnisher as, ineffably, my, having lived through the years of WW2 and the Nazi era from here across the sea, makes me lifelong and unabsolvably ashamed of my German heritage, whose civilization was once the intellectual beacon of the western world. I can't explain my feelings, it's ineffable, I guess you had to be there. 

Or be one.

A galaxy, a poem, an essay. Every day is different, every day is a beautiful day. 



TW√§ller 


Mending Wall
SOMETHING there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:        5
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,        10
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.        15
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.        20
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across        25
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it        30
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,        35
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.        40
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

Mending Wall takes up the theme where A Tuft of Flowers in A Boy’s Will laid it down.
        45

Seaboard America 524x91 arriving from Kingston with general cargo 

http://earthsky.org/space/1st-direct-black-hole-2018-image-event-horizon-telescope?mc_cid=248d4f4726&mc_eid=72812710a5

http://earthsky.org/space/astronomers-detect-whirlpool-movement-in-earliest-galaxies?mc_cid=248d4f4726&mc_eid=72812710a5

** https://www.nytimes.com/newsletters/2018/01/20/race-related


very dear person


Panic time! Early evening, Sunday, January 19, 2003. Our new Interim Rector has just come aboard, things are newly promising to settle down and smooth out at church, and we simultaneously return to HNEC from adventures abroad. Linda and I are hosting Father for dinner at our home, the Old Place. The phone rings: Tassy’s water has broken and she and Jeremy are on the way to the hospital. Our bags are packed and ready to leave for Tallahassee in an instant, on a moment’s notice. We communicate this, yet the evening stretches on and on. I grow nervous and nervouser and more and more nervouser yea unto nervousest. And on and on. As in due course it comes to an end, we follow our guest out the door, toss our bags into the car and head out. Panicked. When we arrive at the hospital driving time later, all is calm. We wait and wait. And wait and wait and wait. For Nature’s due course. Nature takes her time and has her way. In time Sunday stretches into Monday, Jeremy comes out and announces, "Caroline's here!" A little girl makes her debut into our lives. "Her name is Caroline," Tass tells me, "she's named for you." Thomas Carroll Weller. She is named for me. I am swept away with feelings. I still am, for this child and her mother. 

Caroline is exceptional, intellectually gifted. Scholastic. Music. Understanding, grasp, comprehension. Early, I asked her parents, “Don’t ever have a babysitter for this child, any time you need a babysitter, I will come.” We did that for years, a joy, always a joy. 

At about, was she quite one year old, I don’t remember, Linda and I were babysitting while T&J went to an office party, or to a concert, or other. I was holding Caroline. She was barely beginning to talk. I said to her, “You are a very dear person!” She stared at my lips and my eyes as I said it, then she repeated, “dear person.” Astonished, I remember the moment. 

When she was, maybe four years old, I don't think three, maybe three nearly four,  I'm not sure, at a school function at Holy Comforter Episcopal School, she went to the front, not at all nervous, confident; her father held an open prayerbook as Caroline read the prayer to open or close the event. Later, another child’s father complimented Jeremy that Caroline had memorized such a long prayer. Jeremy said, “It wasn't memorized, she was reading.” The other father’s mouth dropped. 

She was the child wonder her years at HCES, skipped a grade there. Starting high school at 13 and playing flute in the marching band, she’s now a second semester sophomore, an extraordinary student in whatever subject. My favorite place to go is Lincoln High School football home games, sit in the section right next to the band and watch her. 



She’s kind, and sweet, and loving, my very dear person. She amazes me. Just absolutely amazes me.

She’s fifteen this morning, early this morning. I suppose, with fear and trembling, that as of today she’s eligible for her learner’s permit to start driving a car. I pray that her interests are elsewhere and that she won't be the least bit concerned with driving a car for years to come, and let all the people say “amen.”



Morning has broken. Happy birthday, Caroline, I love you dearly.

Papa

Friday, January 19, 2018

don't GIVE UP

Clearing out emails I always come across some that for whatever reason weren’t read when they arrived, and were forgotten. Just so last evening with a Coastline from “the diocese” and a piece that caught my eye about a church-wide “Good Book Club” in which folks read Luke and Acts, Luke through Lent and Acts through the Easter Season; including a diocesan contact for information, a reading list and schedule. 



The idea intrigues me, so I emailed Sally Crenshaw, our diocesan contact. Waking this morning I had an immediate response with the information I need. 

This is the kind of thing I would do for and with my Adult Sunday School class and would have done with the mid-week Bible Seminars that I had for several years, have missed, but, because everything has its life and runs its course, laid aside before it went stale, to go on to other ideas of ministry. I’m not at this time going to resume the Bible Seminars - - which consumed a major part of my every week of +Time, now +Time+ - - but I am going to use the program somehow, I haven’t quite decided exactly how. 

But I’m thinking some combo of Sunday School, my +Time+ daily blogpost, and a handout. It begins Sunday, February 11 and there will be a daily link to the Bible reading, so that nobody has to go up to the attic and find a Bible, quite an undertaking for most Episcopalians, who think the Bible is that big, thick, heavy thing up front on the eagle’s back. No, it’a a really fascinating conglomeration of books that I have especially loved to read, mark, learn, enjoy, discuss, and inwardly digest. 

So here goes, watch for this to firm up, and maybe join in as your Lent DOING instead of GIVING UP.

DThos+

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Autocorrect hates Jiminy

Up with a delicious mug of hot chocolate made by stirring into my morning cup of black coffee, 1:29 in the a.m. oh-one-twenty-nine hours in some Navy ship somewhere here with me in the central time zone. 27°F and headed for 24° by five o’clock, six o’clock, this is something; but toasty warm here in the Beck room of 7H, now my den but not office. I installed beautiful real wood paneling in my office in Benedict Hall at Trinity, Apalachicola and can’t believe they painted it white. Jiminy.

See, this is what happens to the mind once it gets caught in the spiraling blackhole whirlpool of regressing agedness. 

It gets no better: Father Nature rang just after midnight, and here’s what kept me from going back to sleep for an hour after returning to bed: in the CFB national championship game, the Alabama quarterback passed the ball to his receiver in the Georgia end zone. The receiver grabbed the ball but it slipped out of his grasp and was caught by a Georgia player, who downed the ball. It was a touchback, am I right or wrong? no points but the ball was taken out to the Georgia 20 yard line with Georgia taking possession, first and ten, or did I miss something? What did I miss and why is that play from two weeks ago causing me to lose sleep, I didn’t have no dog in that fight.



Anu Garg's perfect thought
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:

Only the madman is absolutely sure. -Robert Anton Wilson, novelist (18 Jan 1932-2007) 


Drowsy now. 25°F and falling.

DThos+

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

WTH


Sleet and freezing rain between here and Destin, bitter cold with and behind it. We are not accustomed to this winter weather here on the Florida Gulf Coast, which increases risk to the extreme, especially for drivers, cars and trucks on the road, all passengers, walkers, children, elderly.

The lunch plan is oysters though.

Bad news for commanding officers of the two Navy destroyers whose ships were in collisions last year that killed seventeen sailors. Negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and hazarding vessel are the court martial charges. The chain of command already was fired, from Seventh Fleet vice admiral down, at least one rear admiral, commodore, captain, commanders, probably officers and senior enlisted on watch those nights. This was inevitable, but if the report is true and complete, firings and disciplinary actions need to go a lot farther and wider, including deployment authority and decisions, but highest command will slip by free. http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/11/politics/navy-ships-training-expired/index.html?utm_source=CNN+Five+Things&utm_campaign=d1274f43ea-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_01_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6da287d761-d1274f43ea-81726613. Asking sailors to do more than is possible and then court-martial them when disasters follow. It’d be family inconvenient, but ships could be rotated between western pacific ports for operations and either or both Hawaii or west coast ports for training. Maybe four star heads need also to roll. Or maybe emphasis needs to be on major corrective action over punishment. Why do I care - - I just do, it's the Navy, I will always care. Always.

Emails this morning from Seabear and from Walleye Direct, both we’ve dealt with, and just reading their email ads makes the mouth water. The Walleye Direct ad includes lake smelt, which always brings to mind my late 1977 adventures. In process of retiring from the Navy, I was traveling here and there for job interviews. One was in Brooklyn, which Linda said she wasn’t moving there and if I’d taken it anyway, trust me, you can trust me on this one, the rest of my life thereafter would have been vastly different from the retired goofball priest sitting here in 7H writing a blogpost this morning and waiting for the bitter weather to arrive from Destin. 



But the one I have in mind was in Chicago: it was a high corporate position for which I was imminently qualified and the company flew me from Harrisburg to Chicago, put me up in a nice motel, and bought my meals while I was there. For supper the night before my first interview I ordered fried Lake Smelt, I’d never even heard of smelt. The waitress brought me a huge basket, steaming, piping hot, piled high with tiny fish not much larger than sardines. 



I dug in and it was exceptional, delicious, memorable. Stupidly, with the first one I blistered the roof of my mouth, which downgraded the supper experience but not the smelt from A plus to B minus. Out of hundreds of applicants who responded to the full page Wall Street Journal ad for the executive position, I was one of ten on their short list, and one of two finalists whom they flew in for interviews, but Linda said she wasn’t moving to Chicago either, so when the selection board chairman phoned me to say they’d chosen the other guy because I didn’t seem overly enthusiastic about their company or the position, I was good, fine, relieved. 



As it was, after Navy retirement I worked in WashingtonDC for a year, started my own defense-related business and did that for the next several years, drove new Cadillac cars, traveled all over the US and to Canada and Australia, taught graduate courses in defense acquisition management as adjunct professor for UnivWestFlorida, went to Gettysburg theological seminary and was ordained deacon and priest, enjoyed many pursuits and scored high in life, including fourteen years eating oysters and mullet in Apalachicola and pastoring a beautiful, historic old church of parishioners whom I still love, plus Grace Church, StThomas by the Sea, and especially Holy Nativity; but if I’d been a little more enthusiastic at that late 1977 job interview I could still be eating fried smelt for supper every night, it was that good. 

Oh, what the hell.

DThos+ somewhere way downstream in +Time+ and, looking back, regretting little or nothing