Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Arrives in my email every morning Days of Praise, a devotional essay written by one of three or four members of a family in Dallas who minister as Institute for Creation Research. As I’m not a “creation science” Christian, the underlying theology doesn’t always appeal to me and, depending on how rushed my day is gathering itself up to be, I don’t always read it, but the essay is often quite good, and starting the day with a devotional moment is always good, and the writers are learned in Hebrew and Greek. At any event, one may better serve oneself by reading things one doesn’t agree with than always to read only one’s own viewpoint. Also, as my theology professor said that morning in class, “they may be right and we may be wrong.”

This morning’s devotional essay is titled “Times and Seasons,” which sounds just right for New Years Eve, a transitional moment for folks worldwide. Time being a human perception, it isn’t really transitional, but we make and observe it as such though our Earth, solar system and Milky Way galaxy simply speed unhindered into distant space as the Big Bang continues its explosive burst, which one may see theologically as God’s creating style, i.e., “In the beginning was the Word” and BANG! BE!

The essay recalls the disciples asking Jesus just before the Ascension, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6), to which he replies, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” (v.7). The disciples, and even the essay itself, are oriented toward the future, about God’s plan and what’s going to happen. Jesus says in effect, don’t worry about the future, it’s all in God’s hands, God is in control; saying by implication that we are to live and love in the present, which is what we have, in fact it’s all we have. 

Upstairs on a bookshelf I have a little book The Precious Present -- no, it’s been packed up and probably is in the church library or my office waiting for a new person to pick it up and own it. Working with the homonym “present” the author surprises the reader with the thesis that nothing is more precious than the present moment in time. As the tile in Linda's kitchen window says, "Nothing Is Worth More Than This Day." We have no idea what 2015 C.E. will bring for us, as a world, a nation, family, personally. I hope it will be surprisingly wonderful, each moment of its presence with us. It won’t, of course, it will be like every other year, some moments happier than others. But I pray that this time next year we will be glad for it, and thankful for its life and time.

TW+ in +Time 
enjoying the moment and plodding on

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


What to think on this morning, what to contemplate? IDK. 

Enough about Harbaugh, eh. I knew he does an annual mission trip to Peru; until opening an early email this morning didn’t know what it is. 

All family have been through the nearly six decades accumulation and picked out what they wanted, car loads for Goodwill today. 

This must be what retirement is like. No sermon to write, no admiral’s meeting, no church staff meeting, no Bible Seminar, just pack up and give away. Some are skiiing in Colorado, some are wishing they were. Though not in winter, I want to go back to Maine to explore Waldoboro, the shipbuilding town where Andreas Wäller emigrated from Germany in the 18th century. Original name was Broad Bay. Other than that, keep watch over St. Andrews Bay. Oysters, mullet, I’m good.

Gospel for next Sunday. We three kings of orient are bearing gifts, or the boy Jesus at age twelve in the temple with the elders. Whichever is read in church, read the other in Adult Sunday School. 

Tuesday morning Bible Seminar resumes February 3, 2015.

'Twas the day before New Years Eve and all through the house, things to box up and take somewhere else.


Monday, December 29, 2014



Full of himself, Johnny Manziel still and always a clown, what’s to say, grow up? Naanh. Manziel and Jameis. Seminoles scalp Ducks, drown in Dallas. 

Game is serious business and basketball is seriouser as Duke with Mike Krzyewski, apparently highest paid college coach at $9.7m. Not to jinx, but If Harbaugh goes to Michigan at $8m then he will be CFB tops for the moment. Supply and demand, who wants a top head coach right off the bat to recover immediately from debacle can’t hire somebody else’s assistant or coordinator to get experience on the job. If Harbaugh, then no top high school athlete with NFL in mind will ignore the doorbell when Michigan’s recruiter rings. Coaches are pricey but CFB is gate and gate is big business to major universities, ask PennState. Are CFB head coaches overpaid? Not compared to basketball. Absolutely not compared to the incompetent clowns who scalped and bankrupted GM. Industry and banking CEOs skim the cream, a losing coach is out on his beeyouteatee in short order, and it’s all business, Games or Cars or Loans. Are our social priorities out of kilter, yep, soldiers, police and teachers should be paid like football players, legislators should serve pro bono as public service, and who besides me remembers the international astonishment when Pelé signed for $100k?


Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Town

63F, 80%, wind at 0 mph and thirty percent chance of rain. At this hour and age and stage of life, everything about Grovers Corners is even more real than ever. When I first watched Thornton Wilder’s play on the stage of the old Bay High School auditorium it was poignant and wistful, the town, times and lives so ancient and quaint but still overlapping my world. A year or two ahead of me in school, the Stage Manager did a memorable job, his name slips my mind, but in starting to clear out the attic my four Bay High annuals showed up this weekend, I may thumb through and see if I can find him. 

Our Town is my all time lifelong favorite stage play, above anything I’ve seen since in New York, Tokyo, London, Columbus, or at the Panama City civic center auditorium; grew even more so with the years of life. It seems to have become home and my own life, Grovers Corners has.   

If life were to choose, if I could go to a time beyond me, say a hundred years from now, the end of December 2114, or okay simply September 2035, and told to look back and choose any era of mankind, any age of human history to live in, when would it be, what would I choose? Would it be the time and age I was granted, or some other? 

Maybe I don’t know. For starters, as I've said before, it might be my grandfather’s time, late 1800s into the mid-twentieth century. War, which seems to define history and set its boundaries anyway, would help me decide. I would have to be American. After the Revolution. After the War Between the States but before we became whatever happened to us with Vietnam, our loss of innocence, ideals, integrity, ethics and humanity, the start of our decline and fall to which so many are oblivious. Culture and industry would help me decide, never mind the airliners, I’d travel distance by train but the first automobile would come along in about five years. The milkman would deliver a quart every morning, two on Saturday. I'd have to live on St. Andrews Bay.

People would make the difference, not for life itself would I miss having shared the world with Mahatma Gandhi, oh and Winston Churchill, and people I have loved so dearly. Gone before we earned the world’s contempt and murderous hatred, I’d live in the age when America was admired and Americans welcomed and loved around the world: I well remember that, which would overlap my imaginary Our Town with where I actually have been and lived and loved. I might choose different cars to own and drive, and keep longer. For science, I wouldn’t want to miss weather satellites, at least enough to look down on the fluffy white donut of a hurricane turning and swirling across the Atlantic.

This doesn’t need to be too long or dreamy. Probably comes up because Christmas is over here, dawned, was present, and is done, ended yesterday as Tass and family drove away in a loaded Ford station wagon, her waving to me as I stood in the middle of the street, wishing she was just arriving instead, in fact, I could go back to 1972 and start all over with her. Kris is still here, her car in the garage another couple of weeks; but Joe will be driving away in an hour, before daylight so as to arrive home before dark. By dawn it’ll be just the two of us rattling round in rooms that echo before we ourselves leave.

Along in the middle of Act One, a favorite line, "This is the way we were in our growing up and in our marrying and in our doctoring and in our living and in our dying." 

He forgot to say “in our loving.” At the end, the Stage Manager philosophizes a bit, winds his watch and wishes us good night. 

I’m wishing a good morning. Need to check over my sermon notes and have another look at my Sunday School handout.

TW+ as +Time speeds along toward wherever it’s taking me --

Saturday, December 27, 2014


One of many pleasures of rising several hours before most of the rest of the living in the time zone is its opportunity to read, think and explore. Arrival of the world wide web means we no longer must keep a stack of books at hand, or an Encyclopedia Britannica, or wait for the public library to open, because virtually everything in books is at the fingertips of anyone with online access. Computer, smart phone, tablet. It’s all there if you look for it. So lately, including this morning, I’m browsing Tracey Rich’s website Judaism 101 to discover and understand Jewish heritage that underlies much of our Christianity, including what comes up in our lectionary readings.

Any number of such websites are online, but because bias affects reliability, I check authorship first off and avoid those authored by Christians or so-called “messianic Jews.” It always pays to check authorship first anyway, and to dig a bit further if a bell rings even distantly or a light goes on even dimly. Tracey Rich seems legit.

In our lectionary cycle, tomorrow December 28 is Christmas One, its gospel from Luke 2. After Mary’s purification, parents of the newborn Jesus take him to temple in Jerusalem to fulfill tenets of the Law of Moses that apply to a son who is her firstborn. The law is specific and it is clear that Jesus qualifies.
 In fact, I wonder whether Luke’s preamble through Elizabeth and John the Baptist, and God’s angel and Mary of Nazareth, is not more to establish Jesus‘ credentials -- as a child of the temple, a son of David, a kinsman of Samuel, the new Moses -- than to dig foundation footings for the later church’s Doctrine of the Virgin Birth.

That is to say, Luke not distracted by miraculous impossibilities of nature, or celibate male obsession with an unattainable woman on a pedestal, but Luke certifying that Mary has not had other children or a miscarriage that opened the womb, such that Jesus qualifies for the Jewish ritual of redemption.

Who knows: we may or may not discuss this at Sunday School tomorrow morning. 


Friday, December 26, 2014


Jake Wilson reviews The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and while I might rather read Roger Ebert, Wilson is right. Anyway, Ebert is dead. I also found the movies overstretched and disappointing such that I’m skipping this one and sticking to my love for the real Tolkien. Peter Jackson’s film trilogy Lord of the Rings was so excellent that I used it (first and third movies) along with Tolkien’s books as the basis for a year of Religion & Ethics classes on agape’ at Holy Nativity middle school a decade ago. But I didn’t see Tolkien in Jackson’s movie follow-ons to The Hobbit, so I’m done.

Remembering Ebert’s title Life Itself: A Memoir, several chapters stirred memories of my own life, some overwhelming, some known only to me, some sheer imagination. Most of my books are bagged up and gone but I can still retrieve Ebert’s because I read it on Kindle, and it’s still there should I want to go there again. 

Not just a Day, Christmas is a Season for remembering, which means putting back together in the mind, so I’ve been peering through the dust and dirt-encrusted windows of that old garage out back where the doors are no longer ajar and some of the old cars are missing. But I can see the blank space where they were parked for decades. If ‘twas the night before Christmas, ‘tis the season for memories, putting things back together.
Ebert’s book title reminded me of Georges Perec’s Life A User’s Manual, a long and complexly interwoven tale of an eccentric who set out basically to conclude like the Preacher of Ecclesiastes that when all is said and done life meant nothing. This isn’t a review, but for fabric-weaving, Perec is no Rushdie and La Vie no Midnight’s Children. MC is gripping that cannot be put down, in a dozen years I’ve still not quite finished Perec. Anon: it’s going to 718.

As the house is filled with sleeping beloveds, I slipped on a light jacket and knit cap to walk down Calhoun for Linda’s PCNH only to be confronted by the green light across the Bay. Daisy? In spite of the city's best efforts the street still has potholes and bumps; but after my latest fall, no more walking with hands in pockets, ready this time.

Day of putting things back together for others as well. A decade ago this moment, the Boxing Day tsunami, for loss of life, greatest natural disaster in human history, many times Krakatoa or Vesuvius. Next? Yellowstone has been the subject or object of imaginative stories of a supereruption, which the media surely will get back to once they wring all the blood, juice and gore out of the Sony debacle even though scientists say no worries.

Or a meteorite plunging from heaven despite Genesis 8:21. Who will remember that ten thousand years hence and write a chapter?


Thursday, December 25, 2014

X comes and dawns

White, no, but Right. Chilly -- about 46F on my back porch -- wind in the high pines down front as I walk to the end of the path to get Linda’s PCNH. Light already, Christmas has come and dawned because of going to bed after the late service last night. It’s all good, Life Is Good: for several years after moving home from Apalachicola, I felt in my heart that “Christmas doesn’t happen anywhere but Trinity Church” but it comes and dawns where love abides. 

PCNH front page has a heading “Christmas Memories.” Too many and dear to stumble through without wanting to go there, to each one. The human mind allows that, and in sixty or a hundred seconds just now I’ve been back to a dozen of the best and worst. 

From a ship off Vietnam, talking with family in San Diego over a goofy telephone where every sentence had to end with “over” so the operator could switch. You had five minutes so every crew member could get a turn. 

Tiny beloved climbing into the doll crib Santa brought and squealing, “Mom! Lookit her!” White that year, cold in Ohio. First night it snowed we went outside where the entire neighborhood was enjoying the snow, and I pulled her on the sled. 

Huddled with brother and sister a bundle of impatience on the bottom step while mama and daddy made final adjustments, or whatever it was they did to delay and intensify our agony before saying okay, you can come out now.

Driving away from 25 inches of snow in WashDC as I wondered what life would bring.

Getting out of the car at 1317 in Pensacola as all the aunts, uncles and cousins pour out of the house with hugs and making me feel so loved as if we were the only people in the world.

Tiny artificial Christmas tree with bubbly lights in my hospital room at Adams Hospital before family arrived. 1947. My main gift that year, a four-inch long abdomen scar from appendectomy. Hey, XMAS creates its own memories.

Three beautiful beloveds arriving for the rowdiest Christmas Eve service in the universe, and hearing that they may be four, ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω, then following a stream of angels and lambs down the aisle as a happy church stands and belts out “O come, all ye faithful.” 

As Linda gets two into their PJs, slipping out and ringing tiny bells outside their bedroom window and hearing one scream, “I hear Santa.” 

Negotiating icy snow-covered roads to get to St. Luke’s because of the incense and bells, then slipping and sliding back to Mount Calvary where love was.

Scroll through your own.

TW Xmas in +Time 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Okay, 1:41, rain stretches systematically from Santa Rosa Beach to New Orleans and will sweep over us, looks to me like by dawn or before, depending on how fast it’s speeding northeast. Titan app shows green and some yellow, but no red: not too heavy.

With Joe here we’ve been busy moving little SUV loads of stuff from the house down the street to our new home. Christmas tree here for supposedly our last time.

Want a sea captain’s house? 

Four master suites, two up and two down; three screened porches including second story looking out over the Bay, two living rooms, dining room but we don’t stand on ceremony so don’t call it “formal,” plus an extra room for whatever. Four full bathrooms; also a powder room was included when we did the 1997 addition, because my mother did not like visitors using her bathroom. Lots of cedar trees. Looks out over St. Andrews Bay and includes bayfront.

Enormous kitchen in the 2002 renovation. Carport, poolhouse with heated Endless Pool. Fruit trees, grapefruit, orange, lemon, fig. Home for a family that wants to spread out, or run a bed & breakfast, neighbors have all suggested that.

On my declining mind this Keep the Xpistos in XMAS? Ralphie’s line “Some men are Baptists, others Catholics. My father was an Oldsmobile man,” so, Oldsmobiles, cars in my garage of memories ages and ages thence, dreams these wee hours, hopes ages and ages hence. Friend sent a pic of a 1928 Rolls Royce with unique ownership history: one owner, drove it 82 years. Mint condition and runs like a clock, driven over a million miles. 

Car was built in Springfield, Massachusetts during RR’s decade there, 1920 to 1931. Man in the picture looks familiar, but as I’m only thirty-nine pretty sure it isn’t me. Besides, I'm an Oldsmobile man, surely this will be under my tree tomorrow morning. 

Yep, here comes the rain. 


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Flooded Intersection

Eve of Christmas Eve, 67F, 98% and light rain. Unseasonal for anyone dreaming of a White Christmas just like the ones I used to know but this is what I knew. Bit dank in here, reach for that lap cover. Instead of regular coffee, rerun with two spoons of a hot chocolate mix found while emptying a kitchen cabinet. 

Anticipating “A Christmas Story” with Ralphie and his father’s 1937 Olds. Oldsmobile memories and browsing online for pictures of cars on the street when I was a boy brought up this series snapped in March 1952 by an LA Times photographer at a flooded intersection as cars drove through. Every car is known to me.

In no particular order of the picture series --- 

A 1941 Chevy, a Hudson, a Buick either 1951 or 1952 they were the same you had to see the taillights or if the windows were tinted green it's a '52. 

A 1949 Cadillac turning, behind it a Crosley, another ’41 Chevrolet, the truck is a 1948 or ’49 Chevy, I’m working on that car the other side of the Crosley. 

There’s a Chrysler sedan 1946-8 and behind it a 1941 Oldsmobile. A Packard sedan with a Mercury, couple car lengths behind the Packard is a 1942 Dodge, and there’s a 1949 Pontiac beside the Dodge. 

OK this is a game, another angle there’s the Pontiac going through, a Jeep panel-delivery and a Studebaker at the intersection beyond the Jeep. 

A 1937 Chevrolet coupe turning into Ventura Boulevard and a gas station across the street. 

An Oldsmobile, beyond the Olds going in the other direction a Chevrolet Fleetline 2-door sedan 1946,7,8 or even ’42, a Cadillac sedan with the early fins and behind it a Chrysler Town & Country with the wooden doors and I’m saying it’s a 1950 Chrysler, with the “ice cream” and “fountain” signs on the building in the background. 

There’s a 1947 Cadillac sedan, the ’42 Chevy behind it, and the Hudson, and I’m calling that car parked at the curb in the background space beyond the Cadillac and the Chevy a 1949 Buick, prove me wrong who dares. 

I love the cars, all of them, could I choose one? In the picture with the Crosley, in the gap between the Crosley and the ’41 Chevrolet sedan with the sunvisor and either parked at the far curb or going the other direction there’s a Mercury sedan 1946-48 (postwar identical) and in front of the Mercury is a dark-colored late 1930s GM sedan with a street lamp towering above it: that could be Ralphie’s dad’s Oldsmobile. I might choose that.

Or, three cars behind the postwar Chrysler is what I’m calling as a 1949 Lincoln. Chrysler, ’41 Olds, the white Mercury, and that Lincoln.

If I get bored standing at this intersection, which is not going to happen, they serve “lunches” at the Ice Cream place on the corner.

4:28 AM and ticking and still agonizing over the light-colored car between the Crosley and Ralphie's dad's Oldsmobile.

March 1952 and you are there. I am 16, a junior at Bay High and daydreaming in class.

... somewhere ages and ages hence ...

Tom+ somewhere in +Time 

Monday, December 22, 2014

και εγενετο

and it came to pass

Wunderlich, 55F, quiet and Gevalia this morning. Keurig because Joe is here, his bedroom is downstairs, coffee grinding in my magic machine might wake him. Joe’s going on our walk with Robert and me this morning in a bit of the Cove neighborhood where I grew up. Same but more docks and boats in Massalina Bayou. 

Oh, all dirt roads maintained by the city’s Caterpillar tractor, looked like this,
 covered air-conditioned cab, get serious. Roads were scraped maybe once a week. Its diesel engine could be heard growling its way round Massalina Bayou and we might run down to the lower part of the front yard and watch. Rounded at Hamilton and it came to pass in front of our houses, Waterfield, Sheffield, Guy, Weller, Moore... In the latter years the only thing paved was a couple of driveways, ours and the Sheffield’s, not solid just twin paved ruts, I remember when my father laid out the framing and did the paving himself, dig rectangles, 1x4 framing, gravel, mix and pour concrete with gravel, keep off of it. Before that it was oyster shells, which crunched as a car came up the hill. That may be before my brother and sister remember.    

On my computer desktop, a satellite globe showing darkness with lighted cities, line of the sun’s light moving east to west, a blue dot on my house. Speck on a speck here in our solar system of our MilkyWay galaxy. 

Pinched online, I like Sean Parker’s photo of the MilkyWay arched over an old windmill somewhere in Arizona. That would be the same sky, eh, where a multitude of angels hovered in the sky over shepherds in the field keeping watch over their flock by night.

και εγενετο


more stunning, tks, Sean Parker:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hogwarts Is Not Nain

Not Even Silence

“DREGDRAWER FULL” says the readout on my magic coffeemaker, dregdrawer full, and 1:56 a.m. is way too early to make the noise of emptying it and risk waking Linda. Instead, I used her Keurig and am sipping a cup of Community Coffee. Mild, good balance, not intense as I might want, but black, nice and hot, does the job. It’s a Louisiana coffee that I met and drank that week of silent retreat August 2013 at the Jesuit Spirituality Center in Grand Coteau. There was coffee downstairs very early, it was Community.

Comes in a red bag, and the Keurig pods have a red top. It’s fine, though I wish the pods or the whole bean bags were available with chicory as Louisiana coffee should be. However, not even Emeril’s kick it up a notch Big Easy pods are available with chicory. I wish they were.

If I get three wishes, that doesn’t count though.

This wish does count. Even in Harry Potter, anyone who died and went beyond the veil could not return. Not even in the magical world of imagination, potions, charms, curses and spells could one return or be called back from death. I wish that weren’t so absolutely so.

Online there is a story that stirs hope in me, a faint hope for Harry and his relationship with Sirius Black. Harry Potter and the Truth Beyond the Veil. Online fan fiction dated 2005, its author fashioned himself MagicalMuggle. He was Javee Chun, eighteen at the time, a college student from the Philippines, an aspiring writer. I love Harry Potter and all the books and movies so much that I wish our Bible creation stories could be rewritten so Eve and Adam would eat the fruit of the tree of life as well, and we could board the Hogwarts Express and enter a magical life where a tiny boy could be called back from beyond the veil and hearts not be broken. If I had one wish this Sunday of Advent Four that would be it (let the reader understand). But in this creation, life cannot be restored, God’s best offer, and our best hope is for eternal life with those we love. But that’s beyond the veil, and it's faith that is the substance of things hoped for, things unseen; and Hogwarts is not Nain. 

Not meant to be a downer blog post, I’m merely observing that all of creation has been shattered by a traffic fatality from which neither vehicles nor life can be reversed. One can only faith that God is as broken as the little boy’s daddy must be, in a darkness where not even silence can comfort.

What to do? A minister’s role amidst such desolation is specific -- to be present as physical evidence of the love of God, to weep with loved ones as Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus; but specifically, precisely to not break down himself at the funeral and become the center of attention, because the priest is never the center, but to fade in favor of God who is present in and as God’s word. Composure takes unwanted practice, dreaded experience, and total commitment to one’s calling. 

There are 30 chapters in Chun’s book. I read just one, but hope his imagination ... Can Harry visit Sirius and return -- or even return with Sirius --  


Saturday, December 20, 2014

to recall

All cleared out, no furniture left on the upstairs screen porch anymore, or I’d be out there with Saturday morning. Not as it brightens, the day is overcast. 52F and 79% is not bad, but the 6mph breeze --- . So I’m up here in the bedroom with the porch door open to enjoy. Looking into cedar trees through sparkling clean windows on the east side, out over St. Andrews Bay to the south. Trees have grown up, trees that pictures show were not here in the old days. Temptation is strong to cut every tree except the cedars and MLP, all of which have always been. Like the old eternal rocks.

Like my favorite verse in the Trinity hymn that we call St. Patrick’s Breastplate,

I bind unto myself today 
the virtues of the starlit heaven
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.

Cedars are different. Unlike many other trees, they refuse to sprout out where a branch has been cut off. I once counted the cedars here but don’t want to again right now, but enough to christen this place Cedar Hill. Or maybe The Cedars.

Unlike Lent, which is forty days, Advent is four Sundays before Christmas Day plus any residual after the Fourth Sunday. We think of Advent as four weeks, but it isn’t. In fact, when Christmas Eve falls on Advent Four, Advent is only three weeks, and we never know quite what to do with the Sunday morning, sing songs of expectation or wax Weinachtenisch. There is this view,

But as an XMAS protagonist, my favorite of the season is this that Jane posted.

There’s always sapience online about the ignorance of people who grouse about X for XMAS, I’ve done it myself. The sign says it best, keep the Xristos in XMAS. 

My turn in the pulpit tomorrow morning, what to preach about, GOK. Being as it’s Her day, Mary Sunday, maybe something about the BVM? Joe drives out of W-S, NC early and says expect him mid-afternoon. 

Our church’s Sunday morning bulletins during Advent always include an insert inviting folks to make a contribution in commemoration. Sometimes we do that, this year we did. Plus I have another stirred by this sentiment, which appeared on FB this morning, but which I’ve edited so it speaks for me.

Many we love died too soon. We remember them often in a thousand different ways -- in the morning -- in the night -- before dawn as we see harbor lights and the green light takes us out to sea and beyond. When we look at the stars, or the moon. On the calendar, a date. In the air, a song. A place. A touch. A smell. A taste. A regret. A memory. A longing. A road. A sadness. A joy. We light a candle to recall them to our side.

In this season for happiness and sharing and the Salvation Army person ringing a bell over a kettle outside every store, are many who have more memories than hearts can bear. My Christmas gift is to have them in prayer.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Cuber & Al

Fifty degrees here, Kristen’s car is in the carport, and all is well with my world. Highlight of my day: her arrival yesterday afternoon, safely home for the holidays. 

One of these mornings fahrenheit may be high enough comfortably to return to an outside porch to muse myself by blogpost. What to contemplate? 

Cuber, as JFK called it with his Boston accent. WSJ has the best piece I’ve seen on it. 

Harbaugh. I may not be as big an MGoBlue fan as loved ones in Dexter, but Harbaugh has my uneasy hopes. I just hope if he comes he’ll stay his contract long enough to put Michigan back on the field. Incisive and entertaining piece by email this morning from my Navy and Michigan bud. 

Torture in the news. That our enemy is some strange, new, unspeakable breed of inhuman subhumanity with no moral scruples, no human values in common with the civilized world, motivated by hatred, inspired by some kind of unholy religious perversion, and bent on destroying us: does that mitigate how we’ve been interrogating to prevent atrocities against Americans? Strange? New? Those people have not changed being since the horrors of Assyrian and Babylonian empires, read your Bible. A situation ethicist not a moral absolutist, I’ve been having to reread Kant because I must monitor self continually, continuously. I’ll reboot if our CIA enjoy tormenting; it makes a difference, an ominous and dangerous moral difference. Yet when all is said and done, could a longterm solution be a sea change in the arrogance, greed and selfishness of how historically we’ve dealt with other peoples? We don’t understand why they hate us. It’s all there if you look for it.

Cuba and other things. Overload this morning. Sorry.


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.