Monday, August 31, 2015

Always and Never

Proper 18    The Sunday closest to September 7
Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as
you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength,
so you never forsake those who make their boast of your
mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,, one God, now and for ever.

A memory of our Harrisburg years is the time we hosted the Reverend Canon Bryan Green on a preaching mission (our term in Anglicanism is “preaching mission” instead of “revival”). The year was 1980, which as usual I remember because of the car I was driving, and during that week old Navy friends Gary and Jeri Hahn, who had been our neighbors in Japan in the early 1960s, stopped to see us in Harrisburg. I had been retired from the Navy a little over two years, and Gary also was retired. 

My recollection, which may be lacking, is that over his three or four day visit, Bryan Green preached first at St. Stephen’s Cathedral downtown, then at All Saints Episcopal Church, Hershey, and Sunday at our parish, Mount Calvary, Camp Hill. His preaching theme was “speck on a speck,” which I may remember so vividly because we went to every session at all three churches, and Bryan was such a forceful speaker, or because it so resonated with my years of obsession with astronomy, my nose in books and an eye to the eyepiece of the beloved telescope that earlier this year I gave to the Junior Museum. Starting in Cove School, my interest in astronomy seems to have triggered when we lived on top of a high ridge looking down upon a quaint Yokohama neighborhood, out across Tokyo Bay in one direction and at Mount Fuji in another, and up at a crystal clear sky of stars by night.

Bryan Green (1901-1993) had a bright life as a parish priest and evangelist of the Church of England. We were blessed and privileged to hear him, and to get to know him a bit when he came to our Pennsylvania parish. I remember during our parish reception for him, colluding with our choir director Dianne Morningstar for her to break resoundingly into “Hail Britannia” on the piano and watching Bryan’s delighted beaming smile. Just the age then that I am now, Bryan was as retired then as I am now from parish ministry, but still a dynamic voice in the Church, both in England and here in America.

Clearly based on strong faith, his preaching was fervent and persuasive, even to me. With my mind somewhere out in the open spaces of the universe, I loved his title and view that “God loves you, even you, just as you are, the way you are” he phrased it, “speck on a speck,” as in his preaching he carried us far out into the heavens to look down. Canon Green's visit, and the Hahns stopping to see us, must have been in the spring before I started seminary at Gettysburg Lutheran on my 45th birthday that September 1980. For some reason that I’ve never bothered working on, that age of my life and Canon Green’s “proclamation” as he called it, come to mind this week every year when our Collect comes round for the Sunday closest to September 7. Proper 18, the “always and never collect” my mind calls it. Always and Never are caution words that I try always to avoid and never to use. Because of them, the collect seems to carry an element of certainty beyond the confidence of faith, at least of my faith and doubt as I look back on life’s experience and out beyond the waning moon this before dawn hour and on into the blackness of space beyond space. How could Pantokrator possibly care for me, speck on a speck, just as I am, the way I am. It’s incomprehensible. Incredible. And remember, “just because I believe it, even believe it fervently with every fiber of my being, that don’t make it so.”  

That spring, Canon Green came to Harrisburg with a set proclamation, which those of us who went to every session heard him preach three or four times. True to his evangelical nature and message, he concluded each sermon asking the crowd to stand and sing “Just as I am, without one plea.” 

In the expanse of the universe, the Milky Way is so minor, and our solar system so tiny, earth just a speck, and me a handful of dirt, spit on to make mud, breathed into to give life. Dust, to dust returning. I just don’t know. 

Just as I am, though tossed about 
with many a conflict, many a doubt, 
fightings and fears within, without, 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 


Sunday, August 30, 2015


Even if she holds your finger while she drifts off to nap, never bond with someone else’s baby, else they move on and break your heart. 

Bad enough bonding with my own four, who to my dismay all grew up and away. Early 1960 before Malinda was two years old, the Navy transferred us from my first ship, a destroyer in Norfolk, Virginia, to Naval Station, Mayport, Florida. One evening, we had Tom and Ann Byrne over for supper. Fr. Tom had been our rector at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Panama City during our years at Cove School and Bay High, and they were living in Jacksonville now. Seems to me Father Tom was either on the diocesan staff or at St. Mark’s. Holding Malinda and totally smitten, I’d said, “She’ll never leave her daddy.” Father Tom says, “Oh yes she will, let me disabuse you of that notion right now! Your job as her father is to make sure she does exactly that.” He was right, and besides my own I’ve bonded with other people’s a couple of times, not a good idea, and though that’s my hand on her as she drifted off to nap Saturday afternoon, I’m making very sure not to bond with my grandson’s daughter as she becomes more and more a person on her way to her own life. Great-granddaughter.   

Saturday: family day at our house. As the skies gathered up to storm, 

we all took a walk out on the marina, 

then back, bought ice cream at Amavida and brought it up to the condo for late afternoon snack to spoil our supper. To the girls’ disappointment, the storm skirted us but Tass snapped the double rainbow that it left behind about sunset.

And this is where I am this very early morning 

preparing to miss church and enjoy my blessings here at home as they assemble before again dispersing to the winds as Father Tom said they would.

T+ in +Time  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

love language

Song of Solomon 2:8-13 (RSV)

The voice of my beloved!
    Behold, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
    bounding over the hills.

My beloved is like a gazelle,
    or a young stag.
Behold, there he stands
    behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
    looking through the lattice.

My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my fair one,
    and come away;

for lo, the winter is past,
    the rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth,
    the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
    is heard in our land.

The fig tree puts forth its figs,
    and the vines are in blossom;
    they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
    and come away.

+++   +++   +++

This is our First Reading for tomorrow, we’ve finished our summer’s stories of David, ending with Solomon, and now just a taste of this back and forth poem of two, a man and a woman, a boy and a girl who are head over heels in love, lyrical, flowing, the ode of each to the other. Seldom do the lectionary framers steal my heart, but they do this one Sunday in a thousand, as they give us, again, just a taste, stirring embers hidden deep. Anyone who has ever been in love, and I could wish that everyone has, might be moved to begin at the beginning, figuratively with memories and literally with the love poem, both of which come simultaneously in reading The Song from 1:1 through 8:14. I could hardly bear for it to end.

A particular line is 8:7, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” In the Bible reading above there are no closing quotation marks on the lover's call, because it isn't over. Imagine that. Coming up on eighty, I’m thinking of John Denver and Placido Domingo singing Denver’s song, “Perhaps Love,”  

If I should live forever
And all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you

… in +Time

Friday, August 28, 2015

TGIF: moon, mug & square

Gggg find a nice l.c. gamma golf gee and get going with the morning. Actually, it's nice sitting here eyes closed while fingers tap. Forgot to pick up glasses before sitting down to Kona and chocolate, but it's nice: TGIF begins with mug and square.

Early predawn dark in the city park below and to my left. Guarding against erosion, a boardwalk stretches over the bank and down to the Bay shoreline, where two or three decks allow visitors to stop and enjoy. Sometimes picnic or a wedding. When I went out at 3:55 while coffee perkled, a child was squealing delightedly on the middle deck, perhaps at the Bay with its sparkling emeralds and rubies, or the moon in the western sky teased by clouds and streaming its beam across the Bay. I've been on that deck in one of Panama City's many wonderful parks, and my seventh floor outlook is even better. Good, better, even best.

Friday. Walk. Return home for breakfast and shower. Meeting. L. M. Wait for Joe. Kristen. And my Tassa.

T+ PapaDad

Thursday, August 27, 2015


On my porch this Thursday morning late in August, the sky is clear, the Bay is flat, a small tug is crossing toward the west. A light breeze is, thankfully, pretty much lifting away the cigarette smoke that’s coming up from the porch two or three stories below me. I’m not complaining.

Yes I am, but with 72F and 66% the morning is too delightful other than to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. Latch on to the affirmative. And don’t mess with Mr. In-Between. How old does that make me?

Someone is fishing below, casting out some few yards. If not a regular, he’s no stranger, though we’ve never seen him catch anything. 

Tomorrow is on the calendar for a festive day. Joe arriving from NC for the week. Tass & family from Tallahassee for the weekend. Kristen home from Atlanta. Remember the cliche, a child is a person who travels through your life on the way to becoming an adult. We are no more kittens or puppies than our dogs and cats, but humans hold on longer. If I could change myself, the first thing might be to shed this agonizing trait of clinging.

Other than that? Move into this condo sixty years ago and start over. 

A pax on all smokers.

T+ in +Time

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Clothed in Purple

Belshazzar Redivivus

Remembering the Cold War and those years of the “Red Menace” and the nuclear arms race with its insane foreign policy of Mutually Assured Destruction and HUAC and the witch hunts of Senator Joe McCarthy and Marx and Lenin and Stalin and our obsessive fear of communism and Red China, it is beyond incredible that we have come to the point that economies of the world are shaken by machinations of China’s currency and the Chinese stock market. Throughout history every empire has had its rise and fall, including Egyptian and Assyrian and Babylonian and Persian and Roman and Holy Roman and Ottoman and Japanese and British and the ludicrous but incomprehensibly evil Thousand Year Reich and the Soviet Union, and I’m wondering who realizes what we’re living into the beginning of. 

Fools will puff up and cry “treason” but history speaks for itself when more Buick automobiles are built and sold in China than in the land of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet, and a pathetically significant part of our national debt is to our great enemy China, and now the Chinese economy driving Wall Street. There it is: mene, mene, tekel, and parsin. Someone ages and ages hence will nod his head and write about us, wondering why we couldn’t read it. 

Chairman Mao's new suit.


When Better Automobiles Are Built, Buick Will Build Them. In China. (Daniel 5)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

cubed buffler

We’ll see: this is supposed to be Tyndall morning, to the barbershop. Maybe new black socks at the BX, and there was a time when I'd browse their electronics section but seems to me they’ve dropped Apple Mac products, maybe because, like me, browsers are not shoppers. There’s a little “food mall” with three or four vendors, one sells Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, they'll stack on all the sliced tomato you want, and with an AAFES credit card 10% off. It’s the only time I drink Coca-Cola, they hand you a cup, you add ice and fill it with coke, and half the sandwich comes home with me because even though it’s only a medium I can’t eat it. Why I don't order small IDK, maybe I think I'm still twenty-something. Naanh.

The Commissary to check out their meat: I usually buy a package or two of buffler except they call it cubed bison low-fat: a pack of two patties makes lunch for the two of us two times, medium slightly pink, half a patty each, so lean it's a little tough and you have to chew it twice as long so the brain fools the stomach into thinking it's getting twice as much. 

There are two or three unusual cuts of lamb that I always check out because that’s my favorite meat (did I ever blog about my all time favorite breakfast buffet — 1978, my first trip to Australia and the motel where the Australian DoD put me up had lamb chops on the breakfast buffet). 

Also, very thin pork cutlets that one with a slice of whole wheat toast make excellent Sunday morning breakfasts. Not to mention the Bulgarian style buttermilk, if I buy two bottles it lasts me weeks and weeks because though I love it I drink a 4-oz glass about once a week as my supper. Being on the base, shopping there, and lunch among tables of USAF airmen makes me feel still a member of the club. 

That feeling never goes away.

Speaking of which, the priest stole I’ve been wearing Sundays is Navy camo, a treasure from Ryan, who ordered it for me online. 


Monday, August 24, 2015


With my three favorite teams going into the season unranked, I’m not investing my heart in college football. If the bad news was Ohio State as unanimous #1, the good news is that nobody stays on top for ever, and that there’s nowhere for them to go but down, and that the A.P. noted “four teams since 2007 received nearly all the first-place votes in the preseason poll — and that none of these teams ended that season in the top spot.”

Resurrection: if Easter comes this fall, I’m counting on Harbaugh for the empty tomb. Further south, I’m sick of crow, wouldn’t it be nice if McElwain and Spurrier gave us a Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

To wake up for this morning’s walk: Kona and one square of dark chocolate. Got to leave for Cove School in an hour, I can’t believe it’ll be light by then.

That’s it for today, and I’m all TGIM.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ginormous: so big you can't go round it

Seldom do I open email or news before loosing the magic fingers to start their mad dance of nonsense -- but sometimes there's an eerie feeling that something happened on the other side of this big world as I slept. Nome sane? I didn't have that feeling this all too early a morning even for a Sunday, but I opened News anyway and sure enough, nothing had happened. Or if it had I didn't see it, because the headline was still yesterday's news about the Americans who helped stop a terrorist on the train in France, which I read yesterday. And anyway I only scrolled down as far as the headline from HuffPost about Sagittarius 5, the ginormous black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. 

It has been so long since I was current on the latest news about the cosmos that I didn't know about the black hole. I didn't know about the word “ginormous” either and find it suspect, just as others may be suspicious of my word “certitudinous”. I suspect “ginormous” may be a tacky combination of giant and enormous, so I'm not going to use it. Not at all, and certainly not from the pulpit, where preachers like to wake people up by casually tossing out some pesudo-sophisticated word; like heilsgeschichte. I've done that to see if anyone was listening. Nobody was, or at least nobody blinked. I also like to contemn stupid rules, like our stupid grammar rule that says commas and periods go inside the quotation marks, but not exclamation points or question marks unless they are meant to be part of the quote. And our stupid church rule that says no unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion: what a load of crap for a church that preens itself as politically correct and on the cutting edge of inclusivity, but the bishops are either blind or too obtuse to see it. Not to mention theologically stodgy.

How did the magic dancing fingers happen to get off at this bus stop? It's because this is our last Sunday to read from John chapter 6, the Bread of Life discourse. John 6 would have been a fascinating read for one Sunday morning; but the lectionary framers think the people in the pew all have attention deficit disorder, so instead of one loaf, they sliced it into five little bites for five Sunday mornings. It's a good thing we're done today, because by now we've sung all the bread songs and hymns and praise songs that go with it.

The fascinating thing that Saint John the Evangelist has done with his story, what he has Jesus saying, is to have Jesus unite himself with the manna that Moses gave in the wilderness, with the tiny quantity of bread that feeds a ginormous crowd of people out in that lonely place, with the prophet-like-himself that Moses prophesied, with the Being and Name of God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush. Signs and "I AM" sayings.

Along with the lesson from 1st Kings and closing out Ephesians, we'll have one last look at the Bread of Life in Sunday School this morning before the lectionary returns us to the Gospel according to Mark.

But my interest was more cosmological than theological, scientists' photograph of the action of Sagittarius 5 and realization of its violently tumultuous nature. As in "Jesus calls us, o'er the tumult" sung to the right tune. 

A link to the HuffPost article is below. As a struggling pseudo-theologian, I find, even as Sagittarius 5 is still but a speck, a miniscule particle of the universe, I realize once again that our world, our minds, our imaginations, our vision and especially our God, are too small, to borrow from J.B. Phillips. There is so much out there that we ants can't grasp it, and when we find out about it we say it can't be true because it challenges our certitudes, so we stick our heads back in the sand.

If God is truly whoever or whatever said “Let there be” and it was so, we have a lot to learn and a lot of adjusting to do. 

And if Jesus really said “Let the little children come unto me and forbid them not,” we need bishops who are not stodged up with rules. Most of them never looked in a telescope either.

T+ in +Time and counting

Your God is too Small, J.B. Phillips, 1961

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Good'n Ugly

Good’n Ugly

At noon today, Malinda and Kristen are coming over for Saturday dinner with us, and we are having shrimp grits. Grits are a native species here, as are the shrimp from local Bay and Gulf waters. For the shrimp, we went to Tarpon Dock fish market, where for the first time in a display case I saw lionfish, an ugly, ugly sea creature.

We bought one lionfish. The young man behind the counter filleted it and Linda cooked it for our supper last night, stovetop in a pan with a little olive oil, a pat of butter, and a touch of Old Bay seasoning. Delicious. Firm, white meat. They’re selling lionfish cheap compared to other seafood. We have wild Pacific salmon about once a week, and the lionfish are so tasty we’ll add them to our menu. Ugly was what originally turned Mayflower pilgrims off to lobster, and here’s a chance to eat something good and ugly while it’s cheap.

Five-thirty in the morning, nice out, slightest breath of breeze, dark, boats heading out into the glassy flat Bay from the marinas here in St. Andrews.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Don't Bother

Don't even bother reading this morning. Instead of sitting here [[actually lying propped up and stretched out on the bed in the Bay bedroom with my square of dark chocolate and mug of Kona on the tray beside me]] letting the magic fingers type at will, it's about what I did between 2:57 and now (it's 4:11). 

This coming Sunday is not only our last reading from Jesus' Bread of Life Discourse (John chapter 6) but also the last for our seasonal reading through Ephesians. It's the famous and appealing conclusion of the treatise:

Ephesians 6:10-20 (NRSV) 
The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Ephesians is a lovely writing; and even though I am no fan of Ephesians, it's helpful to me in trying to discern some first century development of the theology of the early Christian church. From what I read and consider sensible and reasonable (rather than some certitudinous nut slamming through a rationalization of what he already believes) it is quite clear that Paul did not write Ephesians. I write this morning mindful that except for Mark (my favorite NT writing upon which my mind is irrevocably certain) every time I study a Bible book I basically have to start over refreshing and remembering. Just so with Ephesians. 

Here's what seems to me then, as I begin refreshing and recalling. Ephesians is not written by Paul, there are too many differences in it and writings that are surely Paul's, not only in use of words but in thought and theology. Ephesians is in the NT only because the early church fathers thought Paul wrote it. Ephesians was not a letter to Ephesus but a circular treatise to the church at large. Ephesians encourages faith in Christ rather than having the faith of Christ – there's a big difference, especially from the POV of a monotheistic Pharisee, so this is a theological shift. Instead of Paul's concern about preparing for an imminent Second Coming, Ephesisns looks to the long term future. I remember but will have to explore it again and have not yet this morning, scholars saying that Ephesians is largely lifted from Colossians, itself a disputed writing as to whether Paul wrote it. The scholar I was reading this morning, who summarized Kummel, Heard, Howell-Smith, and Wallace, dates Ephesians 80 – 100 A.D. Paul's death is traditionally dated early to mid 60s.  

Why are these things important. Well, it isn't to renounce Ephesians as not Pauline and therefore to be ignored, because it's just as canonical as Romans and 1st Thessalonians, and it is just as valuable for teaching, doctrine and life. And as I look out into the heavens this dark morning and regard the planet earth as that speck of dirt in an incomprehensible vastness, these things are not important anyway. But they are important to me because they help me, as an inquirer, understand things that I'm interested in almost as much as I'm interested in automobiles. 

But not quite. Maybe if, instead of getting so excited those dark nights on the open highway in the late 1930s and early 1940s when I spotted a Packard or Pierce Arrow with a trunk-rack on the back and dual side-mounts, I went back and started over with Samuel serving God in the sanctuary, my priorities and perspectives would be other. 

But I doubt it. In my mind I still see that Packard passing us that late night before WW2, as I'm standing on the floor in the back seat of our 1935 Chevrolet, my father at the wheel and my mother in the front seat with him, traveling on dark Highway 98, speed limit 45 at night, driving home to Panama City from Pensacola. As the long, black sedan overtakes us and eases back into the lane ahead of us the excited little kid standing in the middle of the back seat shouts, "There's a Packard with a trunk-rack!!" Memories are more important to me than Ephesians any dark hour. 


Thursday, August 20, 2015


Pardon My Interruptions

“General aboard.”

“Good morning. Be easy, men. How’s everybody doing?”

Pair of egrets flying low, the after one squawking like his mama might get away.

“Care for coffee, General?”

There goes an osprey clutching a fish.

Early morning scene and lines in the television movie The Day After as the general arrives and is briefed by a major while the plane lifts off for the day. Turns out to have been the first day of the rest of their lives. 

Jason Robards is the surgeon. Setting is a small town in Kansas, which when all is said and done is really what American is all about. Missile silo out in the near pasture.

One large Navy craft heading out for another busy day at sea. 

The movie was shown in 1983 when we seriously were arrogant enough to believe we were that important, opposing governments and political and economic systems, actually to destroy all humanity and “this fragile earth, our island home” as a habitable place. Everything was ready, and we really would have pushed the buttons. But we didn’t do that to you. 

Flight of pelicans eye level and close, flying east, it’s that time of day.

Well do I remember how it was. Our doubtful future was so ordinary, clear and certain that we went about our daily lives and trusted creation to the governments. It’s still that way, except religions instead of political and economic systems. Just as we get to the point where four times as many Buick cars are sold in China as in America, we are still there. At least I am: I want a president who would have pushed all the buttons and utterly destroyed that part of the earth when news came how ISIS treated one American daughter. IDK, there may be somebody like me, one nutcase candidate in that pack of loonies. For the love of God, Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. 

Another flight of pelicans in v-formation, about sixteen of them, a foot off the surface of St. Andrew Bay.

Humans don’t learn from history ancient or modern. Here’s this piddling little earth — if you don’t know it, check out an online cosmology site and find us, a speck of dirt in one little circle of light among a universe or multiverse of billions upon billions of galaxies — and we believe this rubbish and that insanity about ourselves and how important our side is, and our point of view.

From my perch this morning, it’s a gift of Grace where, opposite to the transubstantiated Sacrament, we’re not the substance but the accident, yet we’d destroy the village in order to save it.

Time. Not for God in eternity or for the seemingly endlessness of our expanding universe, Time is a creation of the human imagination. It only becomes real when we wish there were more of it. A seventy-nine year old man looking across St. Andrew Bay at eighty and remembering how it was to be seventeen. In an Iranian neighborhood, a girl and boy with their first crushes, hoping the world governments’ nuclear accord will give them time to grow up and make love at least one time before Netanyahu launches. That’s what it’s all about. Time. 

Another large Navy craft heading out for a hard day’s work at sea. The first one is across the Bay just entering the Pass. They’ll be back, as I say, ready for a frosted mug when the Happy Hour bell rings. Ah, those were the days. 

This place, this life, is so incredibly, changingly beautiful 24/7 from moment to moment that my iPhone camera can’t capture every scene. I’m so glad no buttons have been pushed so far.

Egrets stalking the shoreline for minnows. 

This is how my day is going so far.

Mullet jumping a few yards out.

TW+ grateful for a day or so more of +Time for myself and my girls and boys. And God's. Allah's.   

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Moving the Mercy Seat

Never having been to the Holy Land, I am as ignorant about this as I am about everything else, and would do better if I'd been there and had memories and mental images of what’s there so it could come alive for me.

But not so. With help from the internet, I’m visualizing. 

In our Bible story this Sunday, Solomon finishes building his temple as the house of God to hold the ark of the covenant. Long lost in time, it was a chest that, by tradition, held the tablets of the law that Moses brought down from the mountain, and that was God’s dwelling place. From pictures and other stories, 

I visualize the ark as a box with long handles on each end so men could carry it; and on top, two animal images, perhaps bovine, calves, or angels, or eagles, one on each end of the lid, facing each other; and between the images is the mercy seat for God to sit on. Ebenezer, maybe it goes back to "Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, 'Thus far the Lord has helped us.'" (1 Samuel 7:12), IDK. If what you visualize is different, stick with your image, there’s no photograph of it, only the imagination of artists’ renderings.

In the story for Sunday (1Kings8), king Solomon has the chest, the ark of God, brought from Zion, the City of David, a neighborhood that I visualize as being in the south end of Jerusalem, up through the city to the temple at the north end of Jerusalem, a growing, burgeoning capital. Effectively, God is being moved from the other end of town where he was kept for safety and security while the temple was built, into his new home. No longer does God reside in a tent, where the ark was kept all those years in the wilderness with Moses and thereafter. 

There’s a big celebration. Solomon dedicates the new temple, and prays to the Lord that he will answer the prayers of all those who face the temple and pray, both Jew and Gentile. 

No matter where one might be in the world, to face toward the temple and pray is to recognize the Lord and accept him as one’s God. A further thought comes: in that God resides in the written law, which is God’s word, we find the theology that God is the Word and the Word is God. God is present in and as his Word.

Pinched online, the maps help me visualize.

And the word Ebenezer makes a hymn and tune go round in my head. UMH #400

1. Come, thou Fount of every blessing, 
tune my heart to sing thy grace; 
streams of mercy, never ceasing, 
call for songs of loudest praise. 
Teach me some melodious sonnet, 
sung by flaming tongues above. 
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it, 
mount of thy redeeming love. 

2. Here I raise mine Ebenezer; 
hither by thy help I'm come; 
and I hope, by thy good pleasure, 
safely to arrive at home. 
Jesus sought me when a stranger, 
wandering from the fold of God; 
he, to rescue me from danger, 
interposed his precious blood. 

3. O to grace how great a debtor 
daily I'm constrained to be! 
Let thy goodness, like a fetter, 
bind my wandering heart to thee. 
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, 
prone to leave the God I love; 
here's my heart, O take and seal it, 
seal it for thy courts above. 


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ages and Ages ... Thence

Retirement is where Monday and Tuesday are the same as Saturday.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday too if that's what you want. It's even better than good old TGIF. 

Like a comic strip character waking with a 'pop!', my dreams usually evaporate with the rising sun, but this morning's dream woke with me. In uniform, I was in the Navy, deciding to stay instead of retiring and going to seminary. Service dress blue bravo, blue uniform (it's actually black, don't know why it's called blue but it is, and it's pretty much the same uniform in all navies of the world) with three gold stripes on each sleeve, ribbons not medals, white dress shirt with plain straight collar, black tie, shiny black shoes, white cap cover. We used to have service dress blue alpha, which was the same except blue (black) cap cover. The uniform one wore was prescribed by the commandant of the naval district, and I started in Newport, Rhode Island, where the commandant of the First Naval District prescribed service dress blue alpha. Memory puts it all back together, and I remember wearing it here in Panama City in December 1957 when we were home on leave and I went to Rotary with Linda's father. He wanted to introduce me in uniform, and I wanted to wear it. 

A property of memory is its ability to take you there at will. I parked on 5th Street down by the post office and walked across Jenks Avenue to the Dixie Sherman Hotel, took the elevator up to the floor where the banquet room was. Seems to me it was the mezzanine. Home, I'd been there many times, to Kiwanis Club as Key Club representative during my Bay High years, and to the Christmas Ball and the Spring Prom. There today, Ensign Weller, a newly commissioned one-striper, one of the most junior officers in the U. S. Navy. Would I go back? You betcha, but I'm certain of nothing, so ask me again tomorrow. 

What's the next thing memory brings? San Diego: stopping and buying two dungeness crabs and a bottle of wine on my way home Friday evenings when the ship was in port.


As the dream woke with me this morning I was visualizing the uniform with four stripes, what will I decide ... knowing how way leads on to way. Here in the yellow wood with Robert Frost, I may go home by a different road this time round.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Sunday morning, evening, Monday morning


Dark chocolate lasts long because I allow myself one. One bit, one piece, one morsel, one truffle, one square. This morning one square. Einzig ein. Auf deutsch, mit dem kaffee, ist das recht? Oder richtig? Die wunderfullen schokolade my German professor liked to say. 

Remember, es ist meiner blog, für mir. Does "for" have an umlaut? Does für make the pronoun dative? IDK anymore. Makes no sense. I don't remember. It's been 2015 – 1955 = 60 years. Moving on, I cannot stand television it's no sort of intellectual snobbery, I just can't stand it. Nor the radio blaring. Maybe it's because of the tinnitus. Except for weather o­r something specific, tv bugs the alphabet aitch out of me. Yesterday afternoon after arriving home from what seemed to me our best ever Backpack Sunday & Rally Day, 

the tv was on, so I opened the MacBook, stuffed in my earbuds, clicked YouTube and watched a segment of Das Boot -- which I first saw without subtitles in a movie theater in Los Angeles in the late 1970s or early 1980s whenever the flick was new, while there on a business trip. The conversation was so normal that it was difficult for me, but I managed to follow the plot. Yesterday was impossible, but I found one with English subtitles and discovered that though I'd followed Das Boot plot in the LA theater thirty years ago, I'd missed some of the human stuff, like the bunkroom conversation between two German submariners about the French women and the black guy in the bistro in Paris. And the sailors bullying the very young religious nut.

Two tugs in the channel waiting, a sign to expect a large ship. And yep, I see the the top of the masts over the treetops of Courtney Point as she moves into the Pass. Big one, enormous. I'll bet she was waiting offshore overnight. Now directly across the Bay from me, in the far channel. One of these days I've got to get an iPhone with a zoom lens. 

Pelicans, dozens of them in several flights heading east for the day. They'll be back this evening, headed west for Pelican Island.

I love being here, living here, both my easy chair by the window on the Bay and this porch. It's like living inside a picture that keeps changing. Living art, eh -- during sunrise this morning --

But I was going somewhere with this. Somewhere not good. Sometimes if tv is especially same-ole-same-ole obnoxious I watch Die Deutsche Wochenschau from the late 1930s into early 1940s. One last evening was from 1940 touting the Reich's glorious (ship's in the near channel now, heading for the turn toward the Port of Panama City. Binoculars. From Alex's Vessel Schedule, Atalanta 563 feet long, 89 foot beam, draft not shown, cargo wood pellets, last port Cortez, ETD Aug 23, next port Tyne. And yep it does say ETA Aug 16 so she actually was waiting offshore overnight) 

where was I?

Die Deutsche Wochenschau, an abnormally long edition from 1940. Hitler's armies had taken France and among other things, the newsreel was boasting about repaying the French arrogance, showing and commenting on the French prisoners of war. There was a long shot, with comments, down a line of captured black French soldiers, with the newsreel's words (English subtitle, so there's no mistake on my part) reporting that the French had taken these "servant class" people in as brothers, "thus contaminating Europe." So this is the stock of my heritage, both from Germany and as the whitetrash rednecks shout while waving the Confederate battleflag, "It's not about slavery, it's about heritage." Subhuman mentality spewing skybalon. Darkest era of human inhumanity, evil racist heritage that I renounce as  damningly as anything Philip Nolan ever said.

Yet it's still there, heritage as indelible as my baptism. 

After sixty years, I've had to download a declension chart of German personal pronouns. Try to remember what casts a word into dative. Worse, mess it up anyway, because I'll never again recall whether the nouns are m., f., or n. But for some reason lurking deep within me, I love this gutteral caveman tongue of my fathers.


W too nasty so no +

Now within the changing picture, schwarze, darkening sky of gathering storm featuring unendingly rumbling thunder drawing closer and closer.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Come again some other day

At three-oh-four Sunday morning, I’m wondering if the worst of the miserable hot summer is over and heading toward cooler cider season, because for the past few days, sliding open the porch door at this hour I’m not slammed in the face with a blast of air too close, hot and steamy for breathing. Over the Gulf, the southern summer night sky is intermittently lightning, but no thunder wafts through. A nice day would be bless our wonderful Sunday at hand, our best of the year with young families and dozens of children piling their school backpacks around the Altar to be blessed for Tuesday’s schoolday and the year ahead. Rain, rain, go away. Come again some other day. 

Sometimes that rhyme charm works, it’s worth a try, sorry if your reservoir is going dry.

One of these days I’m going to ask my favorite weather lady why typhoons seem to be coming off the coast of California this season instead of hurricanes off the coast of Africa. Has anyone besides me noticed that? If so, don’t mention it: the Evil Eye forever lurks.

As well as Backpack Sunday, it’s Rally Day, when everyone who leads a ministry puts up a tri-fold telling folks about it. I went in yesterday, updated mine and put it up. Two things: Adult Sunday School and Tuesday morning Bible Seminar. Instead of taking a recess, we ran Adult SS through the summer this year. Tuesday morning Bible Seminar resumes September 8th, the day after Labor Day.

Not to mention today's scrumptious feast when Uncle Bubba will eat too much.

T+ in +Time

What’s +Time? It’s my life’s overtime. Wishing me long years.

Saturday, August 15, 2015



Between boats buzzing by, flashes of lightning in distant clouds and the sun crazing closer clouds gray to pink to white, some dawnings are more serious than others, just as some pumpkin patches are more sincere than others. I’ve always and still disclaim that this is a political blog, indeed I’d be a clown if it were such, as nobody with any sense wants to hear political advice from some fool preacher; I certainly don’t, though the BibleBelt is full of it in every sense of ludicrosity.

But now and then something political creeps in. Like now. Ten candidates I watched that evening, on stage as the GOP debate. It wasn’t a debate (there'll be debates later), it was a two hour field-the-question session, more like baseball. Here’s my impression: a pack of alphabet bozos with batting averages lower than my PSA. Twins, like a carton of eggs. Small eggs too, eight small white eggs and one large brown egg. More of the same political vanilla b.s., and b.s. don’t stand for ice cream neither. I like Dr. Ben Carson, and if he’s the nominee fine, but that isn’t going to happen. The rest of them are egomaniacal political bozos. Only one jumbo egg in the carton, and he was the reason I invested a hundred twenty minutes of my life in watching the program, to be amused and entertained by TheD. He’s like a baseball umpire: he calls it like he sees it (and apparently like many other people see it, whatever "it" may be). He wears the suit of the umpire who in response to the question “Was that a ball or a strike?” says “It ain’t nothin’ till I call it.” He has time neither for waltzing nor for suffering fools gladly. TheD is what every politician might wish he had the guts to be.
 I can’t see voting for him, because his election would reveal to all the world that Americans really are the clowns they think we are. So, if he's elected I can love it while saying, "Don't blame me." But the fireworks in Washington would be fun years, four or eight years of the Fourth of July. In fact, by the time it's over he will be President-for-Life and all members of Congress will have been rounded up, arrested on charges of capital treason, and held without bond, awaiting trial while the scaffolds are finished. Internationally, there’s this for everyone who’s sick of Washington and tired of feeling embarrassed about being American anymore: PresD wouldn’t take no crap off of nobody.

Here’s an incisive little blogpost about him.

Pancake flat, the Bay has gone from ink to pink to gray, clouds on the horizon are magnificent for 180 degrees, just below me someone is casting for his breakfast, and ...

... Life Is Good.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Quiet. Hospital Zone.

A period of silence …

The best part of the day is the silence. In fact, silence is the best part of life. But it makes us uneasy, silence makes us uneasy. Is he/she mad at me? Should I be saying something? Why isn’t there sound, noise? Turn on something. There is rubrical provision in our worship liturgy, A period of silence may be observed, but we don’t use it, don’t observe it, it makes us uneasy, we wonder who has missed their cue to get up and read something, we look at the worship leaflet to see what should be happening but isn’t, we squirm, something has gone wrong, has the organist forgot the hymn, the Celebrant dozed off? Who forgot what they are supposed to be doing, oh my God, is it me? 

Our dis-ease, our fear of silence is impoverishing. The rubric should read A period of silence shall be observed.

If there is life hereafter, and if there are choices, options, my choice is not to stand round a throne singing, even Anglican Chant. For my eternity, I’ll drift among the stars, through deep silence of deep space, holding hands with memories of you.