Sunday, October 22, 2017


Hey, I showed up again this morning, still here, thank you, God. A 9 mph breeze that at 74° and 96% is more damp than cool is moving along Scipio Creek here in Apalachicola as I sit at the table on this outside screen porch listening to predawn river sounds and contemplate what to say to whoever might come to Trinity Church this morning.

Matthew’s gospel for today is about Jesus and Caesar’s Coin. The church lectionary puts it in Stewardship Season so we can preach a pledging and tithing sermon, but I did that quite enough in my pulpit years, so what about Exodus, Moses up on the holy mountain with The Lord. Or better yet, First Thessalonians, Paul’s first extant letter that seems doctrinally significant, but that is so obscure to the minds of most people in the pew. Maybe I can share something they’ll enjoy knowing. 

Homiletically I shall be repetitive so they Get It, but hopefully not obnoxiously repetitive. Or, if obnoxious, amen, so be it. Later on, I’ll print the sermon here as my real blogpost for today.


Saturday, October 21, 2017


Arriving yesterday before we could check in at the hotel, we stopped by Trinity Church to pick up the key that was waiting for me, then parked on the riverfront downtown, 

ate a salmon sandwich brought from 7H for a light lunch, afterward returning to the church to wander around inside, reminisce a bit not overly or maudlin, snap pictures, head to the hotel and have a rest before the wedding rehearsal.

In our time here, my entering Trinity Church was always the back door, through the sacristy. So my first glimpse was never the beautiful gothic-style inscription “The Lord is in His Holy Temple.” at ceiling level over the front wall and that strikes who enters the front door, 

but the one over the balcony that probably most worshipers and visitors never notice. It was lifted from the Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 93 of the Coverdale Psalter

Thy testimonies, O LORD, are very sure: * 
Holiness Becometh Thine House for Ever. 

which always kept me mindful of what is expected, required, demanded of a clergyman regardless of all others. 

There’s a hymnboard set up for Sunday morning worship, Rite Two at 10:30 tomorrow, 

snapped with reminisce of my indescribable joy of grandson Nicholas visiting me summers, Christmas vacations, and spring breaks when he was growing up, and every Saturday evening Nick and I would go into the church and change the hymnboards. I think of the evening, we were getting him ready for bed, he exclaimed, “Granddaddy! We forgot to change the hymnboards.” In those years before he and his mom moved from Florida to Michigan, he was Granddaddy’s Boy, loved beyond imagining.  

And the shuttered side windows on the west side of the church there were, and always are as sure as the Gloria Patri, wasp nests. Maybe they prefer the west side because of the sun’s heat, IDK.

Which brings to mind my one great sadness in being a priest has been and is, the almost inevitable cost of a friendship in working with people, couples or individuals who come to me with troubles, for help, pastoral counseling, friendship. My priest mentor in Pennsylvania cautioned me to expect this, that it would happen, that almost every time I ministered with people working through problems, before it was over, one or both would hate me, it would be exceedingly painful and impossible to understand, but always to remember that this is inevitable and I don’t need to understand, just keep on. Seemingly almost always so, it first happened to me during my years here in Apalachicola at Trinity. Nonetheless, to juggle a favorite proverb, Tell the Truth, Cost What It Will. ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω.

Early morning, predawn, daylight hasn’t yet begun to break beyond this screen porch facing east: a man in a boat glides along Scipio Creek emptying his crabtraps one by one. All I can see is a light in the darkness, red heading upcreek, green as he glides back down. 

Wedding this evening, five o’clock.

Saturday dawns


Friday, October 20, 2017

began at the end

My greatest moment of freedom began at my end of many long years of hiding, on September 14, 1980, the day I started seminary at Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg. It was my forty-fifth birthday. Something, a feeling, of surrendering to one’s destiny. Giving in. Of letting loose, letting go. Some, not necessarily I, might say letting go and letting God. That day was like putting on my name, and realizing it was who I had always been and now I was real. Maybe like the velveteen rabbit.

That seems, but for me actually is not, a stretch for a start to this morning’s thought process about our OT lesson for day after tomorrow, this coming Sunday morning. We’re still in Exodus. Moses is asking to know better יְהוָ֔ה whom, at great risk, Moses has been trusting. I remember the first quiz in my Old Testament class at LTSG: in each of a series of questions, we were given a word or two to identify. One question was “God’s behind.” Which seemed to me, a totally beginning novice at fooling around with God, blasphemous. That we could contemplate in human terms, and even humorously, the body parts of The Holy One, God’s privates. Thirty-seven years later I’m nearly okay with it, still a little edgy, but I’ll take the risk of going too far. In fact, I sometimes manage to do that in our Sunday School class, sort of beyond the penultimate double-dog dare of my youth, the triple-dog dare that got Flick’s tongue frozen to the flagpole in “A Christmas Story” with Ralphie, the Old Man, and his 1937 Oldsmobile. I too was "an Oldsmobile man" in more cars and ways than one, from my middle thirties right through my forties.

At any event, below, preceded by our Collect for the Day, is the good old time Bible story. It’s about God’s glory, isn’t it, God’s glory, a moving, shifting, changing notion. As the Collect avers, In the NT and for us Gentiles, God’s glory is Jesus. But with Moses and for the Israelites, on this occasion at least, God’s glory is the Full Moon, אֲחֹרָ֑י - - 
the hind side, back part, afterward, away, back, backs, backward, behind, hereafter, hindquarters, rear, rear parts   

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Old Testament Exodus 33:12-23
Moses said to יְהוָ֔ה the Lord, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 

He יְהוָ֔ה said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And Moses said to יְהוָ֔ה him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.”

The Lord יְהוָ֔ה said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.” 

And יְהוָ֔ה he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, יְהוָ֔ה ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he יְהוָ֔ה said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.” And יְהוָ֔ה the Lord continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my behind; but my face shall not be seen.”

DThos+ at risk

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Saints & Signs

Outside on 7H porch, easily the clearest night in a million years, Orion in my face, and Sirius, brightest being in our sky, patiently, brilliantly, obediently below the Hunter. A tug rumblingly, chug chuggingly pushing her barge past and round the bend to head north toward Hathaway Bridge and on I suppose, unless they’re stopping at the Port west terminal, but more likely they’re making along the intracoastal waterway, will pass Mary Esther later this morning. I’m adding tugboat captain back to that list of next life possibilities. 

Again the weather, almost as autumnal as this time yesterday, 64° and 80%. Weather online says wind at 5 mph, but up here at Level Seven it’s blowing steady higher than that.  

Anu Garg this morning with hagiology, easily recognizable as word and holy, he says study of saints, the saints. Who else has saints? Anyway then, Hagia Sophia, Saint Sophia, Holy Sophia cathedral mosque in Constantinople now Istanbul, Turkey. And also, Τρισάγιον is the “trice holy” that may be sung to open the liturgy in place of the Gloria in excelsis or the Kyrie eleison. Looks like “trice hagion” to me with an expelled aitch and a hard gee, but I once heard Marion Hatchett drawl “try-sajun” and it’s been said that if Marion said it that’s it. Marion sounded like Alabama, or was it Mississippi?

Thursday, today, a mental work day, thought for sermon at Trinity, Apalachicola this coming Sunday. After walk tomorrow morning, we’re driving over for a long weekend of wedding rehearsal Friday evening, supper with friends from back when, wedding Saturday evening, staying overnight and supply priest Sunday morning, then back home to 7H. 

I could tell, had a strong sense, realization, on that first arrival afternoon in July 1984, that I was about to become, and would forever only be, just one more name in a long list of priests there, and so it has become and is. The tug of StAndrews and of Cove School and of the Bay, I understand; but there’s something about Trinity Church that claims the heart and won’t let go. An owning that goes both ways, it’s been with me since I was, probably, nine years old, but can’t describe. There’s another word for Anu Garg: ineffable.

Speaking of whom, his

Life is mostly froth and bubble, / Two things stand like stone, / Kindness in another's trouble, / Courage in your own. -Adam Lindsay Gordon, poet (19 Oct 1833-1870)

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty, 
Holy Immortal One, 
     have mercy upon us. 


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

bee-loud glade

Clear blue and cloudless, 55° 69% a perfect fall morning on the Florida Gulf Coast. I’m looking across StAndrewsBay over Shell Island into the Gulf of Mexico on a day so perfectly fall, autumn, that we had oatmeal for breakfast, steel-cut or some such variety. A little crunch, and I like mine varying, various depending on day and mood, sometimes lots of stuff, this morning salt and pepper and a pat of butter. Fall won’t last, though, maybe a couple of days before summer returns and shifts back and forth with cool versus too warm and muggy until cool settles in. Maybe a few hours of winter a day or two along in January, then in March some bitter cold windy days only describable as "raw." So raw that this coming March I may go visit the mountains on the far side of the sun, a great-grandfather has a small cabin there, of clay and wattles made.  

Ah, but today …

Driving out to Laguna Beach late this morning to change water into wine and lunch with a fellow clergyman. Episcopal clergy are all the same except for the occasional one who effects frilly cuffs, a sleeveless red vest, ankle-length like Joseph’s long coat of many colors, purple shirt, big stick, throne and palace. Say sir. I like my bishops as far distant as I liked my admirals.

Early, the pelicans will continue splashing down below until they’ve had their fill of mullet. Skilled and smart enough, I could throw a net for some too, but I’ll visit a fish market soon for a couple long ones heavy with red.

Fall is Time to remember long ago, filching oysters from a bucket, and pulling strips of salt mullet with my brother. And I can see "where" from here. Sometimes nothing else matters.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

with the Olds

62° 72% and sitting here with open sliding door onto 7H porch, perhaps fall has come at last. 

What for sure has come at last is news from the astronomy community that deepens our knowledge of our universe, about binary neutron stars colliding, 

that renews my ongoing high anxiety indecision about whether in my next life to be a Navy fighter pilot or a weatherperson or an astronomer or, ἰδού, a shepherd in the hills keeping watch o’er flocks by night and lasering wolves that come close. 

My dream is that between incarnations there’ll be enough time to come ashore as a category 5 hurricane. For sure, I’ll be driving that 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme hardtop coupe across the night sky. 

This week a beloved asked me, “Papa, of all the cars you’ve owned, what was your favorite?” My answer usually has been that new red 2001 Tahoe we bought on 9/11; but all things considered, let the reader understand, I have to go with the Olds.

See, ἰδού, it’s Tuesday and already I’m anticipating Friday’s drive back into my Twilight Zone.

Reading assignment:

Pics. Sunset 16Oct2017 PB407 and 7H. Artist’s notion neutron stars colliding. Dream car still in my garage out on the back alley, door ajar, ready to go, and I’ve got a ticket to ride.


Monday, October 16, 2017


75° 89% cloudy, no sky visible, just clouds. Maybe the humidity is the reason early morning felt too close to sit on 7H porch after gazing round. Out the Beck Door for PCNH and to the rail to look over StAndrews, gunshots, loud, not rapid but ten or a dozen, close by, about 3:15 no sirens following.

Friday wedding rehearsal. Saturday wedding. Sunday morning great adult SS class, good scripture basis and lively discussion, don’t like the tables crowded though so will ask for another table in the library classroom; and with new carpet installation need to sort furniture back to home spots, not a problem and maybe change something. Noon, nursing home visit with communion. Pleasant newcomers’ gathering yesterday afternoon, hosted by vestry and staff. Home to bed, might have been asleep by seven-thirty, not sure. Maybe it was eight-fifteen, IDK.

Today: walk, pills, nap, shower, breakfast, staff meeting, flu shot. Graveside service this afternoon. First day of the rest of my life. 


DThos+ shuffling along in +Time+