Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dawn Frost

Early Morning Frost

During the First Gulf War and around that time before and after, the U.S. Navy sent out letters to some ordained ministers, inviting us to be Navy chaplains. The Army did that too, and one minister in Apalachicola resigned his pastorate to be commissioned an Army chaplain, and the last I heard he was quite happy in his new life and ministry. 

The Navy sent me that letter invitation at least twice over a period of several years. Each time, it stopped me in my thoughts if not in my tracks. The idea went through my mind, I -- ruminated is the right word -- on it at least half seriously. Maybe because once you have been in a military service it becomes a part of your being, not just who you were but who you know deep inside, and who you like being and know that you always will be. I have been an Episcopal priest over thirty years, but I am first and foremost a Naval officer and have been so for 57 years this month, perhaps this very day, and as a retired officer am even still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. My tippet has the Navy uniform hat insignia that Linda gave me for Christmas 1959, the year I was promoted to lieutenant junior grade, and I've thought several times about having my gold stripes sewed onto it.  

Brings this to mind, a Facebook exchange after a friend reported just having received a similar letter, though not to be a chaplain. In my case, I let the idea go after having looked into it to see that the age limit was forty, which I was well and truly years past. But this morning the memory of it all returns as the FB chat continues and I read a FB comment from someone that her father was offered an age waiver. Usually I’m not stupid, but asking for an age waiver never even occurred to me. Looking back, I think the Navy would have taken me up on it, and my reaction is deitydammit2hell why didn’t I think of that.

Why this, now? Well, I’m strange, but I'm not all that different from other people. Everyone looks back in life and wonders what might have been at various crossings or divergences, places where, as Robert Frost said and I myself heard him read it aloud sixty years ago, “two roads diverged in a yellow wood ...” If you haven’t looked back, I guarantee you will by the time you reach my age and are looking over the mountain peak and down the other side. How would life have been if, where would I be this morning, or would I be at all? And what about those I so dearly love and have loved and did love? In my life of surely dozens or scores of two roads diverging in yellow woods, how might taking Robert Frost’s other road have changed what is? Will there someday be Time travel, and would I like to try it? “Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back,” what if I could, would I? 

The idea of possibly having been able to wear the Navy uniform again, and serve at sea again, and stand on deck as my ship enters port and ties up at a new dock again rekindles the thoughts I had after I received my Navy letter, and stirs more “what ifs” than I ever imagined would be restless inside me when I got out of bed this morning. Sorry I could not travel both ... I stood ... . I'm standing.

Like a sermon, part of the idea of a blog post can be to stir in others their own adventures. A sermon to me is a special success if someone didn’t hear the end of it because they got so caught up in what I was saying that they wandered off in themselves down roads of their own. 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

just a taste

Veni, Sapientia

December 17? Various sources start on different dates, and I don’t remember and am certain of nothing, but according to at least one source, December 17 begins chanting the “O Antiphons” leading up to Christmas, first Sapientia. O come, thou Wisdom from on high. 

Our Hymnal 1940 showed a date for each verse, but clearing out to move I’ve got books out of the house, have no idea where to find a 1940 to verify at the moment.  

Sapientia, from Latin to taste, to be wise, homo sapiens, hominid who became wise by tasting. Jeepers, all the way back to Eve and Adam in the Garden tasting the forbidden fruit and becoming aware, wise, knowledgeable. I don’t know how far back into human folklore that creepy story goes, whether it dates way back beyond ancient Hebrew culture as do flood stories, but somebody at some point was entertaining the tribe around the campfire one evening explaining why, when other animals are so innocent, people are wise. Etiology that became a campfire story starring a most feared of creatures, the snake.
Go ahead, take and taste, I won't hurt you. Serpent was wise before we hominids tasted, becoming sapiential, knowing right from wrong. God could no longer whap us with a rolled up newspaper and say, no, bad earthling.  

My preference this morning, engage rumors about Jim Harbaugh, worn out with the 49ers and will be ousted, but if you’ve lived in San Francisco and you’ve lived in Ann Arbor you know fog from snow, and if Harbaugh comes to college football he will disappoint by quickly returning to NFL like Bill O’Brien. All coaching is not the same, as college coaches find out by coaching pro-football a bit, getting a bellyful and coming back. Goes both ways. 

Rattling on about MGoBlue, I might wish we could resign from homo sapiens, or go on to whatever the Creator has in mind for Chapter Next of hominids, seeing the horror of hatred amongst us. Taliban murdering students in Pakistan. 9/11. ISIS. Madman in the Sydney cafe. Germans stirring against Islam and who could fault them, by this time next generation Americans will wish they had too before it was too late. May next be eons of “sleeping in Jesus” until the universe ceases expanding, cools down and blinks out. 

O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go. 

Veni, Sapientia 


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

maranatha now

60F on my porch, balmy innit. Everything brings something to mind; this me at eight or nine years old wandering in our back yard on December 24, short pants, barefooted and no shirt, wondering if time actually slows down on Christmas Eve to torment boys. 

Pitch black and wind in the palms and cedars. Best I can do for myself at this moment is be out on the downstairs front screen porch and enjoy the creation. There’s the green flashing light, is that you, Daisy? It's dark and I can't swim that well, send χάρων, send the boat for me.

My thought might have been for the dancing fingers to trip lightly over the Gospel according to Mark and what to talk about in this morning's final session of our Fall 2014 semester. But the little red flag flashing at the top right of the computer screen was CNN saying more than 80 people, mostly children, killed in a school shooting, and the distraction horror grabbed hold of me. It was the Taliban in Pakistan, where the world and obsession with self is almost as insane as here but where parents are as doting as we are. Why? If everyone could gather together and look up at the night sky, we would see that we’re just specks on a speck of no consequence, and try to look after each other instead of our obsessions with our own points of view.

It makes no difference to anyone else here in the Milky Way with us what we are so fervent about that makes us hate every earthling who is different from us, hate murderously and break each other’s hearts so cruelly.

We are dust, and to dust we shall return: meanwhile, nothing matters but agape’

Maranatha: Come, Lord.

Tom+ in +Time

Monday, December 15, 2014

reveille, reveille

It’s 4:28 a.m., actually 0428, isn’t it. Every morning about this time -- earlier really, I’ve been up an hour with the first cup of coffee from my magic brewer, which I think I’ll take to it’s already-designated place in the condo today, that’ll help me feel “adjusting” and at home -- I start thinking “what shall I contemplate or remember to blog about?” Though readers may think I write to be read, truthfully, it’s a mental drill not unlike the crossword puzzles that Linda works. Something I read yesterday said working crossword puzzles helps ward off Alzheimer’s, keeping, writing and posting a weblog is my crossword, makes no matter to me whobody reads it. What’s up, then?

The Kaiser-Frazer dealership building has been pulled down, a pile of rubble and something else will go there. Demolition was high time, long overdue, but it happening painted a black spot over memories that stirred every time I rode past there for the past sixty-seven years. 

The 4th Street Bridge across Massalina Bayou, the wooden one was better for memories,

but neither it nor the new one dated 1945 will be in my life this morning because Robert is still sick and we aren’t walking, the best walk being from Cove School down Hamilton or Linda Avenue, round Massalina Bayou, across the bridge, past the court house through McKenzie Park, maybe sit on a park bench for a couple minutes, down to E. Beach Drive and across Tarpon Dock Bridge, left on 2nd Court and back to the cars on Linda Avenue behind Cove School. We haven’t measured the route, but it takes us right at an hour of time and back seventy-two years in time to when we were in second grade, Mrs. Rigell’s class at Cove School. Not this morning, however, so I’ll do time in the exercise room at HV.  

Lacking an essay inspiration, I did the unusual and clicked on gmail to scan NYT or TWP. But an email from a Navy buddy popped up that sent me back fifty-seven years. Not set me back, sent me back. All good.

A recording of Liberty Call being passed over the 1MC in a Navy destroyer. And a reminder of a word being passed that I had forgotten. In a large warship it would be a bugle, but in my destroyer it was the bosun’s pipe, shrill and invasive. twee-eeeee twee-eeee. Reveille, reveille, all hands heave out and trice up. Reveille. If you haven’t been there, your life has been infinitely less than mine was. twee-eeee tweee-eeee, now mess gear, mess gear, clear all mess decks till pipe down. twee-ee twee-eee, sweepers man your brooms. ding ding ding ding ding now this is a drill, this is a drill, general quarters, general quarters, all hands man your battle stations. Life and duty in a destroyer was the best the Navy got for me, so good that it moved me to augment to Regular Navy, 

to the disgust of my roommate, who hated the mid-watch and couldn’t wait to get back to his Russian studies at Harvard.

Would I do it all again? Maybe, if it could all be destroyer duty. For the most part, shore duty sucked, especially as the years went by. I might not do that part of Navy life over again.

So, this morning at sea in a U.S. Navy destroyer, and don't wake me.

 TW somewhere in +Time

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Salad

47F outside, 69F inside, why does it feel chilly in here even with this heavy blanket over my feet, legs, lap and up to my chin. Sniffles, I hope that doesn’t signify. White cotton blanket, actually a twin bedspread, but folded double for new duty as we no longer have any twin beds in the house. Clearing out, we're down to two kings and one queen. In fact, we're down on everything but chairs, some rooms are totally empty and some rooms even echo. There was a time years ago when this house sat long vacant and empty, the owners living far away. My father would drive by and, seeing the back door standing open, stop and pull it shut. My father never lost his love for this house. Neither will I.   

Okay, now we’ll see a Heisman matchup on New Years Day with Jameis and Mariota. Was Jameis ever this humble and appealing? The new job for Muschamp makes me an Auburn fan. Army Navy signs check it out

Advent Three, second Sunday of John the Baptist, one of these days I’ll figure that out. My favorite thing about Advent may be the apocalyptic readings and sense of it that folks miss while decorating the Christmas tree. Adult Sunday School this morning, come one come all, discover what you may not have known. Gaudete, rejoice!

There goes the heater kicking back on.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

ready or not

We remember his death,
We proclaim his resurrection,
We await his coming in glory.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Always rejoice, unceasingly pray, in everything give thanks; this indeed is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you. The spirit do not quench, prophecies do not despise, however test all things, to the good hold fast, from every form of evil abstain.

Moreover, may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely and entirely, may your spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is the one calling you, who also will perform it

This is our Second Reading (we used to call it “the Epistle”) for tomorrow, the Third Sunday of Advent, which season remember is not about baking chocolate chip cookies and pouring a glass of milk as we watch and wait for Santa Claus, but about “he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” In the reading, which as usual is unfortunately a snippet because we don’t have the patience to listen to the whole letter, Paul is finishing his letter to his church at Thessalonica by telling them how to live as they await Jesus’ imminent return at the Day of the Lord -- Paul being an apocalypticist who thought that in his lifetime the old world order would come to an end as God ushered in his new kingdom with the -- the Greek word is παρουσίᾳ (parousia, “coming”) -- of Jesus Christ.

It’s an interesting doctrine whose credence may be stretched by peering out at the Milky Way that Paul did not understand. Bubba, who understands no better than Paul but very different, is not fairly seen as a Thomas, but more as a realist. It has been two thousand years, and although “a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night,” comes a point where the scene shifts from Thessalonians waiting for Christ to Vladimir and Estragon waiting for Godot. Who “doesn’t get” Beckett’s subtlety note to pronounce the English name with it’s original French accent -- GOD-oh, not ga-DOH. Paul is called the inerrant word of God, Beckett the theater of the absurd. Paul is not kidding; it is arguable that Beckett is poking fun. 

Mindful of Scripture, Tradition and Reason, one may reasonably ask why the liturgical renewal of the twentieth century added the Memorial Acclamation to the Eucharistic Prayer as a theological assertion when modern Christians want to rationalize the faith from the Nicene Fathers’ creedalism back to Jesus’ call to a life of compassion, kindness, generosity, love and sacrifice. I am not sure He would recognize the Church Militant, but we can make this Season what He would make of it.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Cleared for takeoff

Lord have mercy, I can’t stand it. Every time a Fiat 500 

commercial runs on TV I do a second take thinking the Crosley is back, and the word that hits me is “death trap.” That’s wrong, it’s a safe enough little car, 

safe enough for some people, but I’d better not see my grandchild riding in one. Car safety measurements are mostly about being in a collision with another car of the same size and weight. There aren’t enough Fiat 500s on the American road to be hunting each other down to crash into, and what I visualize is a crumpled fistful of aluminum foil after mating with a friendly 18-wheeler. 

Crosley cars were manufactured from 1939 to 1952 (except during WW2) 

and were interesting little bug-size vehicles

advertised “cheaper than an eight-year old used car.” 

They were odd enough looking

and about the last model effected a little propellor on a point at end of the hood.

Driving only the seven mile round trip between home and church a few times a week, I might feel safe enough in a Fiat 500,

but I’ll bet my friends at Cramer GM could get me an eight year old used Chevy cheaper and I’d rather have that.

Just sayin’