Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday Update

What’s it like out? Warm and overcast, but a good breeze up here while we wait for sunrise. Sound of water lapping ashore seven stories down could put me back to sleep. Bay is flat, not glassy but flat. I can’t tell for sure, there may be a light fog on the Gulf of Mexico beyond Shell Island, as it’s a bit hazy looking south and I can see the Island but not into the Gulf. Have I already missed the flights of pelicans heading east for their day; why do they do that?

It’s my thought that my house buyer was not approved by his lender: yesterday he came to the house and hauled away the large collection of art he had on the front porch, and took away one of the cars he had parked out back, an older BMW 5-series sedan, black that he had painted silver, it looked like new. He’s slipped twice on contract closing dates and his third closing date is this Friday. I’m not agreeing to another extension, if he doesn’t close this week the sales contract is terminated and the house will again be for sale. Anybody need a lovely old 13-room house with 4 1/2 baths and the range of options from seven bedrooms to four private suites each with bath and sitting room? Huge kitchen. An enormous walk-in attic. My house is lonely.

My buyer under contract seemed an unlikely prospect: recently divorced, recent from Virginia and said he taught in schools there, but grew up here, graduated from BayHigh in 1960, 72 years old, unusual person, outgoing and friendly. Someone said a bit eccentric, but I don’t know, because when he missed the first closing date I lost confidence in the sale and stopped visiting with him. He had in mind variously a B&B, a youth hostel, an art museum. He had a nice fence erected on the west side, closed in the back porch with rail and bannister, it looks lovely but I’ll need to paint it. On legal advice I wouldn’t let him move in, store anything inside, or have a key before closing. His apparent no show for a closing does not surprise me; disappointing but no surprise. Besides various things on the back porch, which I don’t mind, he still has a Chevrolet motor home and a yellow 1980 Mercedes 300D in the carport. We’ll see if more vehicles and personal property are taken away today. Stay tuned.

Thus ends the month of June.


TW  

Monday, June 29, 2015

June 29

Wow, the lightning display over the Gulf is fantastic, incredible. In a great cloud that stretches from all the way east to all the way west, it flashes in the pitch darkness, lighting up the entire south. Yet, no thunder, so it must be far off, out and away. 

Some weekends are more and this one was: all my girls were here. It’s quiet now, dark and quiet. Dark and quiet and very early. Fifty-eight years ago today Linda and I were married in Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, and now I have this great cloud of girls who light up my life.

Monday, a six o’clock walking day. 


T

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Little Girls & Old Women

Early to rise, but today is Sunday and getting up any later than this would run me late for the morning. As well, our gospel reading from Mark is on my mind, deterring me from returning to other than a quick snooze after the chat to Father Nature. This one bit of dark chocolate melting on the tongue with the sip of Kona should quicken the mind adequately to order a couple paragraphs sensibly.

Here’s the reading, in the Disciples Literal New Testament translation — 

Mark 5:21-43 Disciples’ Literal New Testament (DLNT)

A Synagogue Official Comes To Jesus About His Dying Daughter. Jesus Goes With Him

21 And Jesus having crossed-over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd was gathered to Him. And He was beside the sea. 22 And one of the synagogue-officials comes, Jairus by name. And having seen Him, he falls at His feet 23 and begs Him greatly, saying that “My little-daughter is at the point of death. I beg that having come, You lay Your hands on her in order that she may be restored and live”. 24 And He departed with him. And a large crowd was following Him, and they were pressing-upon Him.

On The Way, a Woman Touches His Garment And Is Healed Because of Her Faith

25 And a woman — being in a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and having suffered many things by many physicians, and having spent everything of hers and not having been benefitted at all, but rather having come to the worse, 27 having heard about Jesus, having come in the crowd from behind— touched His garment. 28 For she was saying that “If I touch even His garments, I will be restored”. 29 And immediately the fountain of her blood was dried-up, and she knew in her body that she had been healed from the scourge. 30 And immediately Jesus— having known in Himself the power having gone forth from Him, having turned around in the crowd— was saying “Who touched My garments?” 31 And His disciples were saying to Him, “You see the crowd pressing-upon You and You say ‘Who touched Me?’” 32 And He was looking around to see the one having done this. 33 And the woman— having become afraid, and while trembling, knowing what had happened to her— came and fell-before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And the One said to her, “Daughter, your faith has restored you. Go in peace and be healthy from your scourge”.

The Daughter Dies Before Jesus Arrives. He Raises Her From The Dead

35 While He is still speaking, they come from [the house of] the synagogue-official, saying that “Your daughter died. Why are you troubling the Teacher further?” 36 But Jesus, having ignored the statement being spoken, says to the synagogue-official, “Do not be fearing, only be believing”. 37 And He did not permit anyone to follow with Him except Peter and James and John (the brother of James). 38 And they come to the house of the synagogue official, and He sees a commotion and ones weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And having gone in, He says to them, “Why are you being thrown-into-a-commotion, and weeping? The child did not die, but is sleeping”. 40 And they were laughing-scornfully at Him. But He, having put everyone out, takes along the father of the child and the mother and the ones with Him, and proceeds in where the child was. 41 And having taken hold of the hand of the child, He says to her, “Talitha koum” (which being translated is “Little-girl, I say to you, arise”). 42 And immediately the little girl stood-up and was walking around (for she was twelve years old). And immediately they were astonished with great astonishment. 43 And He gave-orders to them strictly that no one should know this. And He said that something should be given to her to eat.

There’s Mark’s spell for today, a “pericope,” a little story complete in itself like a slice cut from a tree trunk. It’s well known and one of my favorites. I meant to have it for discussion in our adult Sunday School class this morning, but it’s likely that our whole hour will be spent chatting about the goings on at our churchwide General Convention in Salt Lake City, so I’ll write a little about the gospel now.

I like the DLNT because rather than a rendition that’s smooth in modern English, the translator tries to give us the sense of how Mark actually told it, wrote it, and how he meant his first audience to hear it — and we can also notice some of Mark’s writing peculiarities. To keep this short, I won’t elaborate.

Mark likes to put us in suspense here. The main story is about the little girl, I like to call her Talitha, which is Aramaic for “little girl.” Talitha is deathly ill, and we start worrying about her and whether Jesus will get there in time to save her. But he gets distracted by this nonemergency of a pathetic old woman, raising our anxiety about Talitha. Hurry up, hurry up, please hurry, will you hurry up, a little girl is dying, will you hurry up, for heavens sake. And while he’s fooling around chatting with his disciples about somebody touched his robe, and stopping to visit with this old woman, the little girl dies. We know the story, of course, so the plot is spoiled for us, but hearing it the first time, Mark’s audience did not know. It turns out that time and death are no obstacles to Jesus’ power, he simply takes Talitha by the hand and speaks gently to her, and she is well. For one who adores daughters and worries about them as I do, it’s the most moving story in all Scripture. 

The story of the woman with the issue of blood is dynamite too, and look how cleverly Mark has created such tension for his audience, as slowly we come to realize who and what this man Jesus really is. It’s a story to stir our faith, isn’t it. For discussion, the old woman had faith, but Talitha has no faith, in fact by the time the story is over she’s dead and beyond faith; rather, it’s her father’s faith in coming to Christ, and Jesus’ power, that saves her.

It’s four o’clock now, and I hear thunder, but my “Titan” weather app shows just a small storm that will move quickly through and be gone before time to leave for church.

The other things I want to mention about Mark have to do with his style and agenda, and are maybe more subtle than the faith story about Talitha and the old woman. These things show up especially well in the DLNT, which is why I like it so much.

Notice that Mark has this writing peculiarity of beginning almost every new thought with “and,” which leaves us breathless as we rush through his gospel. He increases the sense of urgency by rushing along through each step of his pericopes with the word “immediately.” No scholar, but I think Mark does it on purpose as part of what I discern as his overall agenda of leaving us totally frustrated at the end of the story, when nobody but the demons and the Roman centurion have realized who Jesus is, not even the women at the empty tomb, and stirring us to jump up and rush out to proclaim Jesus. I think Mark is the ultimate evangelist, because he tells his story in such a way as to make evangelists of us.

Anyway. The other thing is the so-called “markan secret” or “messianic secret” in which for some reason or reasons that Bible scholars have puzzled over and argued about for twenty centuries now, Jesus tells the witness or witnesses around him not to tell anyone — about himself, or who he is, or what he has done. That oddity of Mark also shows up in today’s reading.

Oh, I nearly forgot. The DLNT shows, as our NRSV does not, Mark's use of something called the "historical present." Instead of flattening a story out by telling it all in the past tense (as our modern translators do, what a shame), Mark brings us into the story live by telling parts in the present tense, part of the breathlessness of his gospel and his style. I really like that, and I'm sorry that almost all modern translations fail to give us that wonderful sense in Mark's marvelous storytelling. 

So there you go. Time for another cup of coffee.


TW+

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Love, love, love

... and thank you Lennon-McCartney

Nations are deciding about gay marriage in different ways. I can’t verify it, but here in chronological order is a May 2015 list from TIME of countries where same-sex marriage is legal nationwide: Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Argentina, Iceland, Portugal, Denmark, Brazil, England & Wales, France, New Zealand, Uruguay, Luxembourg, Scotland, Finland (2015, effective 2017).

In Ireland’s recent referendum a large majority of the public thumbed their noses at their bishops and voted yes, so add Ireland. In America it has been left to the states until Friday’s 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court decided yes nationwide. 

In General Convention (June 25 - July 3) http://www.generalconvention.org now meeting in Salt Lake City, the Episcopal Church will undoubtedly vote yes. A hundred years ago this would have been unthinkable. 

Gay marriage thus becomes the law of the land and the law of the church. Whether their vote is 9-0 or 5-4, the Constitution is what the United States Supreme Court says it is, the Constitution says what the Supreme Court says it says, the Constitution intends what the Supreme Court says it intends, the Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means; and the Court has now spoken on this issue. Suppose the decision had been 4-5 the other way: then it would have remained a matter of StatesRights, a term from the Civil Rights era. A spectator, just a bystander whether the decision was 5-4 or 4-5, I have neither shout of victory nor cry of dismay, nor do I have condemnation for those of good conscience on either side of this issue which is now settled. 

Memories I do have, though, of a bygone petition in the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church of our late Book of Common Prayer, "We beseech thee also, so to direct and dispose the hearts of all Christian Rulers, that they may truly and impartially administer justice, to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of thy true religion, and virtue." God help us, this is the United States of America: wickedness and vice in whose eyes? The maintenance of whose true religion? Whose virtue? God in heaven deliver us from ourselves and from those of us who would administer, punish, and maintain. Cranmer's medieval petition from the Established Church is blessedly gone from our prayers, why it took so long to delete it, I cannot imagine.

My first problem is that I see few of good conscience on either side; rather, lineups of certitudinously self-righteous spewing vitriol, and many pointing and shrieking "bigot" or "pervert." My second and third problems are that I am never certain of anything, and that I am almost always wrong.

Over against those who would protect everybody from each other, my own archconservative view is that it’s nobody’s business whom anyone else marries, and the fewer peering into bedroom windows and going through neighbors' garbage to count condoms, the better. For those flipping Bible pages for proof-texts, in a hundred years marriage in America will be polygamous anyway, and Scripture will finally be fulfilled. Meanwhile, no literalist-inerrantist presses for Deuteronomy 21:18-21. And as always throughout the ages of ages of human history world without end amen, the greatest sin is certainty.  

A preachable gospel:

Love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love, love

There's nothing you can do that can't be done
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy

Nothing you can make that can't be made
No one you can save that can't be saved
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
It's easy

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love, love

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Nothing you can know that isn't known
Nothing you can see that isn't shown
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be
It's easy

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

All you need is love (All together, now!)
All you need is love (Everybody!)
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Yee-hai! (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)

One incomprehensibly unspeakable shame I did note this week: the pressed resignation from a seminary's board of governors, of an Episcopal bishop who in his diocese had approved the baptism of a child who had been adopted by a gay couple. True, I don't know all the facts; but my reaction? WWJD? Same song, second verse -- 

Love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love, love

There's nothing you can do that can't be done
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy

Nothing you can make that can't be made
No one you can save that can't be saved
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
It's easy

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love, love

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Nothing you can know that isn't known
Nothing you can see that isn't shown
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be
It's easy

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

All you need is love (All together, now!)
All you need is love (Everybody!)
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Yee-hai! (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)


At any event this morning, John, Paul, George, Ringo, Jude, 1 John 4:8, Matthew 5:28, John 8:7, and Yellow Submarine.


TW+

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday in June

Some of these are about me, some not, most often I have no idea upon opening the blank page. But today I do. 

Last night I went to bed at nine o’clock and straight to sleep as always. One wakeup call, about two o’clock, back to bed and straight to sleep again. Waking that hour a few years ago, I would have thought, “this may be the day, better stay up and enjoy life just in case,” but no more, I’m good. Besides, the short hours lack of sleep was too telling. So I’ve been trying to go back to sleep after being roused by Father Nature. Reading about meditation recently helped me find an easy way to do that. I choose a solitary and absolute focus: either the breathing or the tinnitus, either is effective. This morning then I woke at 4:48 a.m., cup of coffee with one square of dark chocolate with forest mint, and wide awake, ready to go, and it’s time to go meet Robert for our walk.

Oh my goodness, I love this Bay, sunshine or gloom.


Pax vobiscum and happy Friday.


TW

Thursday, June 25, 2015

daddy's girl

Black bears. Smelling our bacon frying on the grill and, paying no heed to us fleeing for the car, Linda pushing a stomach about to deliver, the wild ones waddle down out of the woods to enjoy our breakfast of sweet-rolls, eggs and bacon all set out for them on the picnic table. June 13, 14, 15, our weekend in Gatlinburg in a tiny cabin hanging out over a shallow creek that bubbled and gurgled us to sleep the night before. For breakfast we drive into the Great Smoky Mountains and stop at a picnic area to feed the bears.

Late evening ten days later, thinking labor may have started, we walk into the emergency room of Athens General Hospital where to the nurses greeting us, I nervously say, “We need someone to tell us if we’re going to have a baby.” Looking at Linda’s abdomen, the small crowd of ER medics roar with laughter, hustle her into a wheelchair, and out of my sight.

An hour or so later, June 25, 1958. Fifty-seven years ago just about now, Malinda was born in Athens, Georgia, where I was in Navy school. She was the answer to my long years of longing for a baby girl. Every day I rushed home from class to hold her, sit and look at her. Tell her she's daddy’s girl. When she was a month or six weeks old Linda took her to the pediatrician for her checkup and the doctor advised, “You’re a mother now, but don’t forget to pay attention to your husband.” To which Linda retorted, “Tell him to pay attention to me, he can’t see anything but the baby.”

Malinda Louise

Six weeks later we are in Norfolk, Virginia and I am Ensign Weller, ship's officer in a U.S. Navy destroyer, USS CORRY (DDR-817). A year later, on her first birthday, the ship comes into port, Linda meets me at the pier, and we drive to our apartment. Linda stands Malinda on the floor and she toddles over to me. 


TW

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Not Forgiveness

Because of my foolish human nature I suppose, because my nature is human not divine, there is the ongoing probability of my saying, writing, typing, thinking something stupid; ill-thought out, incompletely researched. Off the wall. Nevertheless ---

Years ago -- well it was May 1985, thirty years ago last month, wasn’t it -- there was great turmoil, a national brouhaha, over President Reagan’s visit, during his participation in a conference in Europe, to a cemetery in Bitburg, Germany where among the graves of 2,000 WW2 German war dead lie 49 soldiers of the Waffen SS. At the time, a priest friend of mine preached a simplistic absurdist sermon in which he chastised the objectors and said that it was time to forgive and move on. His remarks were skybalon, garbage, trite, trivial rubbish, painful and offensive in the extreme; because the German Holocaust in which the controversy centered, is beyond forgiveness by any but those who died in the gas ovens; and those who loved them; and those, every individual person in unborn generations for all time to come, who, like the Ethiopian eunuch of Acts 8 pondering Isaiah read “who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people he was led to death,” who will never be. (Isaiah 53:8, LXX). When, and only then, beyond countless generations to come, the last human being who never had a chance to live and love forgives Germany and the world for the Holocaust, the sin of that evil will be washed away. 

Likewise, in the courtroom last week, the survivors’ beautiful, gentle words of Jesuslike lovingkindness sobbing forgiveness to Dylann Storm Roof cannot forgive or absolve the evil that he has committed and therefore is, with the culture, society that gave him being. To think otherwise is, God bless them but nevertheless, a pitiable naiveté that makes a kindergarten Sunday School Bible story of Good Friday. Sin or evil that robs creation of its future is ultimately forgivable by Creator alone, knowledge of whom passeth human knowing. 

This morning I am touched by the Op-Ed that appears in the New York Times. Maybe the link below will open it. Her writing is, like eternal damnation of all who lived through the Holocaust and did nothing, more than an indictment of all of us who, as we continue life as usual after Charleston, become or indeed already are, always have been, and forever will be Dylann Storm Roof. All of us who believe that executing a man for his/our crime will satisfy justice, must lie on the gurney with him, sit in the chair next to his, stand on the same gallows, in order for absolution to come. For justice cannot truly be served in America today. Worse, forgiveness itself, very different from absolution, can only be spoken from the cross. 

Yet, fools, we wander on through the brambles, believing ourselves forgiven even for Charleston.



TW+

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Surprise Quiz

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
It's like, at the end, there's this surprise quiz: Am I proud of me? I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth what I paid? -Richard Bach, writer (b. 23 Jun 1936) 

From word.a.day, this is Anu Garg’s thought for today, often as intriguing as his word. Sometimes after a sermon someone in the congregation will tell me, wow, that was spoken directly to me personally. That’s my reaction today: this thought is pointed at me, I who, about to complete eight decades of life, often muse on how much of it has been well lived versus how much selfishly wasted; and to what extent I have honorably used my long years compared to those whose years have been cut short. Not only those before me in Weller graves at cemeteries around the United States, including Alfred, but those in Flanders Fields, and at Arlington; and especially in my heart and in my lifetime and in my service, those 58,307 whose names are on The Wall. I am terrified of failing the surprise quiz, but it is inevitable.

My blog post is late today. Once a year, twice if it works out that way, I get to spend a few hours with my brother Walt. Today was the day. He came over early for coffee and a breakfast bite, and we talked quietly until after noon. Well, some laughter, but mainly sharing our years of life as boys, me before him, and us growing up together, and him after me. On John Carroll’s boat, at the moment, Walt and his are on the way to Shell Island.

My brother and I have more in common than anyone, and I love, admire and respect him more and more with each visit, as the years go by. He will pass the surprise quiz.


Tom+ in +Time

Monday, June 22, 2015

What The Heaven

From time to time, as now, I contemplate stopping the daily blogpost. My mental exercise program, but it takes more time and is more trouble to write than the physical exercise program is to walk. It shows more of myself than I care to observe or to reveal. It isn’t that there’s nothing to say, it’s saying such trivia into a world so deep in horror. In my vocation, it’s realizing too much and telling. It’s that my knowing is circular and going down the same street so often. 

The ratty old yellow building where Mulberry meets 5th Street and W. Beach Drive was first a restaurant in my memory, Daisy Mae’s, opening in the late 1940s.
 We went there after church for Sunday dinner now and then. I would have fried chicken or fried oysters. If “who are your people?” is the question, I think Daisy Mae was daughter of the owner of Mattie’s Tavern, where Hunt’s is now at Beck and 12th in St. Andrews.

The old BayLine train station is gone, it was a pile of smoking, smoldering rubble when I drove by one morning several years ago, but the ramshackle building next door to the west is still there. For long years the Railway Express station, it last served as a law office.

One of my worries is the Studebaker dealership at the point of Oak and 4th will be demolished. I don’t want the building, but there is a red


1950 Studebaker Champion Starlight coupe sitting there every time I drive by. No matter if I'm the only one who sees it.

There’s that other pointy-end car dealership too, Harrison Olds, W. Beach Drive and 5th Street, with the all new 1948 Futuramic Olds 98 in the window.


I didn’t want an Oldsmobile, I wanted a Buick, but for 1948 the Olds and the Cadillac got a new body that Buick didn’t get until 1949 and had it only that one year. In another totally new body, the 1950 Buick’s front grill melted and ran down the bumper,


but that also only lasted one year. Before that, my Aunt Mildred and Uncle Paul had a gray 1947 Chevrolet convertible, which they let me drive at age 13 and 14, with the top down. Favorite aunt and uncle, they were always exceedingly loving and generous toward me. When the girls started arriving, DD and Paul traded in the convertible for a 1950 Buick Super sedan. To me it was the ultimate luxury, Dynaflow,


the first car I ever drove with a PNDLR. In a few years, the PNDLR was standardized industry-wide to PRNDL. An Episcopalian, I liked the old way best of course.

There was a Seven Seas restaurant (this was before the marina was built out into the Bay at the foot of Harrison Avenue) maybe near the old bus station on 5th Street, between the bus station and the Dixie Sherman. Angelo Butchikas had his first restaurant along in there too, before it moved across the bridge to the beach. A friend and member of our St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Angelo had a luscious Buick Super Riviera coupe, yellow with a black top. Even though I had to acolyte, it was worth going to church just to see that car. It was either a 1951 or a 1952. The Korean War was in full swing, and those two year Buicks were nearly identical. The 1951 had good chrome that lasted; the 1952 had crummy wartime chrome that soon rusted away. The 1952 offered optional green tinted glass windows for the first time. And the 1952 had an extra bit of chrome on the rear fender over the taillight. These things may seem like trivia, but they will be on St. Peter's examination before letting us in through the pearly gate. That Buick below is a 1952. One can't be too careful about these things.



Angelo died in a car accident while I was in my MBA program at UMichigan. Tom Sale, prominent local attorney and judge died then also. My mother turned 50 years old while I was there. Malinda was four, and Joe was two. We had a picnic table in our front yard, and somewhere around the house there's a photo of Joe sitting on the picnic table and me standing behind him giving him a haircut. He was a little blond boy like Christian. 

The mind wanders, doesn't it. Thinking of deaths while I was at college, my Uncle Charlie, the Reverend Charles Knight Weller, died while I was a freshman at UFlorida. I have the red leather BCP that Uncle Charlie gave me September 14, 1949, for my fourteenth birthday. Uncle Charlie baptized me and Gina at the same service in 1938, says the parish register at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. 

Linda’s uncle Jimmy, Lucy Peters’ older brother James Mustin, also died that year too, while I was a freshman at UF. I always thought he’d be governor of Alabama some day. You never know. Speaking of --

Both this past Saturday and the Saturday before, I had funerals of old friends and parishioners at Trinity, Apalachicola. One interment at Magnolia Cemetery, the second in the memorial garden. What happens when we die? Belief has evolved over the centuries, including to popular American Christian belief, which is what we like to believe but doesn’t tie with St. Paul unless one starts rationalizing. But WTH, St. Paul didn't know either. It doesn’t matter though, and just because we believe it, that don’t make it so; but nevermind anyway, because seeing that we don’t know for sure, we can take comfort in believing whatever we like to believe. What I believe is very simple and does not have me worrying for the rest of eternity about those I love. 

We’ve changed our walk to 6:00 a.m. because of the summer heat. Last Monday morning we walked at seven o’clock and upon walking in the door here at home afterward, I collapsed into bed for the morning, it was that heat-exhausting. For all that, this pause is the best part of the walk.


Ah, life in My Town, which is close enough to Heaven for me. Except for my choices and adventures while I was away, I could be sorry that I left it for so many years. 


TW

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Not a chance

When a murderous nightmare of insanity happens in America, I can’t help but wonder if background may have seeded and nourished such evil in another shy, withdrawn, ultimately mentally ill boy. Was there a hateful, absent or abusive parent, a parent only concerned with self, or a parent who did not love the child? I don’t know the Daily Mail, maybe they're a trashy sensationalist newspaper, I’ve never read them, but their piece was the first thing up when I googled “who is Dylann Storm Roof’s mother.” Dylann's mother appears in the article, a pathetic nonperson, the father is there too. Every child needs to know he or she is important to someone. This young man never had a chance. I guess he created his own importance.  


Just as with Dzhokhar, and Adam Lanza, there are no excuses for Dylann. But there are reasons. We can catch and execute the criminals; but we can't see and correct the reasons.

W

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Saturday

Saturday: in a few minutes we leave to drive to Apalachicola for the funeral of an old friend and parishioner, whose husband we buried years ago. Bud was an architect, Jean worked with Linda in PennysWorth, the parish thrift and consignment shop that they started over a quarter century ago. Seems to me Bud and Jean retired to us from Connecticut. As the rector is away, I will officiate and be celebrant for Eucharist.

In the background the muted television is on the horror in Charleston, the victims and their grieving families. Yet more cruelty that stirs terrible anguish, but needs no comment from me because the words are tired, all used up and apparently of no consequence to the more of the same that lies ahead. Why has such evil become epidemic in this American generation. Who are the perpetrators. The enablers. There is no place to go with the conversation. Pogo for President.


W

Friday, June 19, 2015

SHARK!!!

Dark yet with no glimmer of day, but in two hours I’ll be on Linda Avenue behind Cove School for the Friday walk. Starting just as the seven o’clock mill whistle signals that for all the years, we are schoolboys again. On WDLP, Mayor Carl Gray advising on his daily morning show, "if you don't want to hear about it on the radio, don't do it."

Cliff Upon Bay is an interesting place. Just beneath our porch, what for the last week or so appears to be a mullet hatchery and nursery was yesterday a feeding ground for sharks. Quite a large one yesterday morning, watching with binoculars, Linda guessed maybe eight feet long, almost straight down from us, streaking here and there with the speed of a lightning bolt, thrashing a breakfast feast in shallow water. Two more sharks later afternoon, smaller but decent size, in a feeding frenzy.

The water below us is shallow way, way out; I’m not a good judge of distance, but fifty yards or more. People wade way out to cast, sometimes seeming almost to the shipping channel. Children play out in the shallow depth well beyond where sharks come in to feed. “Do fish have memory?” I googled yesterday while watching the sharks thrashing up foam. Yes, fish have memories came the answer, can be taught habits, remember feeding grounds. Mr. Safety will not want to see granddaughters wading again in the shark feeding ground just beneath my balcony.

The sky is lighting up now, looks to promise a lovely Friday. In a few minutes flights of pelicans will glide by the balcony rail, some of them close enough to leap out and ride on if I were Tom Thumb instead of Tom Whoever. Pelicans are social, flights of five, six, eight birds gliding by, heading east in the morning, heading west toward the setting sun in the evening, why do they do that? The only answer that comes up on google has to do with setting and resetting the sense of direction for migrating birds. Here’s a science project for a middle-schooler.

Slept last night, from just after eight p.m. until about one as usual. Up momentarily then back to sleep until 4:48. Linda still asleep, I didn’t run my magic coffee machine, which grinds famously, but a pod of Louisiana’s Community coffee in my PAPA mug, and another bite of 72% cocoa Endangered Species with forest mint. The ultimate waker-upper.


And away we go.


T+ in +Time 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Shovel of Dirt

Endangered Species

Perfect, comforting wakeup: mug of black Kona, two squares of 72% dark chocolate with forest mint (Endangered Species) and a third square waiting on the table here by my lift chair as I look out through porch rails and across to Shell Island into infinity. Perfection itself, the chocolate is not chewed: one square perhaps, because the chew is as exquisite as the taste. Each square is domed to fit the mouth, flat side on the tongue, convex dome up. Slight sip of coffee. Close eyes, focus as saliva fills mouth and chocolate dissolves. Wakens body and soul more soothingly than coffee alone. Oh goodness.

Thursday: peace. Here at any rate. 
Here only.

The Peace of God

Another shooting. Most of us may be decent, but Balrog has escaped from Middle Earth, seized Potter’s invisibility cloak, and roams at large, out and about after daylight. Like the pooka, it appears to this one and that one as it will. Stirs fear, hatred, terror, why? because it can. Populates the planet with malevolent creatures: arrogant pseudo-intelligent beings of insane selfishness, hideous cruelty, warped certitude. Noah was the hope, the illusion, of a Dreamer. 

Divine error: the Ark. 

Nothing is what it seems and we are no longer what we believed ourselves to have been. A shooter in Charleston. ISIS. Qaeda. 9/11. Nation of Narcissists who cannot see the cause of evil because our mirror is broken. The Donald for clown relief. GWB and henchmen. Irresolvable hopelessness that cannot be seen by those of us in the penthouse. A pathetic prison tailor aids prisoners to escape. Fear. XNRT. LaPierre. Certitude. Rights without responsibilities. An irrational, insane and unseen, selfish circular evil of refusing healthcare for those who could not be aborted then come present into the Hopelessness of Devolving Poverty. The Covenant: never again will all life be destroyed by a flood. Noah didn’t initial the fine print: incoming: Global Warming. Dark irony: endangered species.      

The peace of God, it is no peace
but strife closed in the sod.

Some alphabet moron in a collar piously said he won’t pretend to know what that haunting last line means. Percy is quite clear: the peace of God is life's struggles that end as the last spade of dirt is tossed onto one's grave. 

The Peace of the Lord
be always with you.

And also with you.


TW

And thank you very much Wm. Alex. Percy

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

bishop

This is my Wednesday blogpost, the earlier one was rubbish, don’t read it. I’m certainly not going to, I’m not even going to bother deleting it.

Yesterday I had the great joy of confirming to myself that there is still wisdom in my heritage, the Episcopal Church. I’ve served under several bishops and watched several episcopal elections, and always known capable and deserving local priests, and wondered why the discerners chose as candidates, and the diocese elected as bishops, a stranger “who knew not Joseph.” 

This time in our diocese I was delighted to see among the candidates, and finally as our elected bishop, a hometown boy from just up the road a piece, Russell Kendrick, from Fort Walton Beach. He comes immediately from a parish in Birmingham, Diocese of Alabama, but we chose Russell to be a priest, and we know Russell, and Russell knows us. He will not be wandering around for months or a couple years meeting us and learning about us. Russell is back home, and I am beyond delighted.

Russell met for lunch with local area clergy yesterday, my first time seeing him again probably since his ordination at Nativity, Dothan I don’t remember how many years ago. I am so proud of our bishop committee, and of our electors. 

For clergy, starting out with a new bishop is always a tense period of wait and watch and keep your fingers crossed and your mouth shut. Sometimes you get an arrogant horses patootey, I saw it happen once in an adjoining diocese (no names). But we are starting out with a friend who already knows us and all our parishes, and our strengths, and maybe was out of the diocese long enough to forget most of our quirks. We already love him and don’t have to stand around on pins and needles wondering what we’ve done to ourselves. What a blessing. 

Wednesday II


TW+

Wonderful Wednesday

All is not as it seems, and it just don’t git no better’n-nis. Last night to bed at 7:16, up at midnight for a short chat with Father Nature, back into the warm bed, and finally forced out again by Father Nature jumping up and down on my bladder again at 4:48. So that’s what, over nine hours of sleep? Unheard of!

But what I’m thinking as I sit here letting the fingers trip lightly over the keys is how delicious that fried rat looked on TV just now. Linda has Channel 13 on and they were showing, I think it was a KFC place that some buyer ostensibly got a piece of their new boneless fried chicken breast that happened to turn out looking like a rat, tail and all. There was another piece that looked like a fried chicken head. I think it was all coincidence, actually real chicken breast, and supposedly funny. IDK, the KFC place on 23rd Street at Airport Road seems to have closed, which didn’t especially surprise me, the location was awkward to get in and out. Church’s and Popeye’s are perfect, and a box of fried chicken from Publix cannot be beat for price, freshness and deliciousness. Plus I’ll admit this. One day several years ago, I went to that same KFC, their first customer of the day, and ordered a bucket of fried chicken and paid for it. They got yesterday’s fried chicken out of the refrigerator, heated it in the microwave, and gave me that. I never went back. Before that we were regulars, never again!

This is not a complaining morning though; I have a busy, happy, happy full day ahead with some of my favorite people, that will conclude with the Wednesday evening service at my favorite Holy Nativity Episcopal Church. Six o’clock for the summer months. Come!

TW+

  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

good better best

One of life’s blessings is distracting, annoying minor inconveniences. In the dark, turning on the coffee pot by feel, slipping my PAPA mug into the opening, pressing the middle button, and darting off to the bathroom — returning to find the mug empty and the overflow reservoir full of hot coffee. In the dark I’d positioned the mug just off from the spout. 

For mental discipline, it’s good when a goof is one’s own fault; even better, to recognize that; perhaps best, to be aware that one is facing one's own fault. Years ago I worked with a man who always found someone else to blame for his own mistakes, whose portrait would have made a textbook cover for narcissistic personality disorder. Working around him was an exercise in learning to be self observant.

My Bay is lovely this morning. Flat but not glassy. Light blue, but a shade or two darker than the sky above it. Across, beyond Shell Island and over the Gulf, coasting along just above the horizon, is a long, low cloud that the morning sun is just now casting pink and lavender. What a blessing to be alive here, now. I wish Alfred could see this. I'm seeing it for him.

Exercise in the gym downstairs, then to the office. Draft the 10:30 bulletin for next Sunday, clergy lunch with the bishop-elect, afternoon conference with a happy young couple. Home, tomato sandwich and a glass of something red. Nothing open, so — merlot, cabernet, shiraz, malbec — to sleep, perchance to dream. Perchance to not snore.

+Time: Life Is Good.


W