Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thursday: busy day ahead


Just-ice I finish an article about Sotomayor’s latest searing dissent and scroll back to read a piece in which Sonia and Ruth disclose Supreme Court lunchroom secrets, the spinning beachball arrives to stop online and turn me to this blogpost. Rain overnight, evidenced by water drops on the porch rail, not blowing rain, at least not from the south, seeing the porch floor didn’t wet my socks. 


Great clouds yesterday and a couple bird shots, what I'm impatient for are an osprey carrying a mullet arms length by my porch, and half dozen pelicans in formation east- or westward, wingtips almost touching the railing as they glide by. That osprey is still hunting -


Now outside with breakfast: smoky Costa Rican coffee, charred brussels sprouts, crabmeat sandwich, as a thunderstorm sweeps in from the west and south across the Bay in front of me, close lightning flickering our condo lights and driving rain graying out the full 180° scape. 

Busy day ahead as the rain moves on through toward downtown, Watson Bayou, Millville, and the Pass reappears. Lightning couple seconds away now, and a cooling breeze following today’s first storm.



DThos+

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

59

Perspective: 59/41


Here in 7H, our bedroom is just adequately spacious that bed and tables with lamps fill 59%; in the Bay end, two chairs, angled but parallel. Facing 30° NE, she sees television with top corner of my chairback intruding in bottom corner of screen, chest of drawers, wall with paintings, door into the dining room. Facing 210° SW, my chair with bookshelves beside me, Annie & Jennie above and a photo of a Navy commander accepting retirement certificate from a long-dead admiral, faces sliding glass door, porch, railing, Shell Island, Courtney Point jutting out into St. Andrews Bay such that I can’t see the Pass. Even stretching, I can’t see Davis Point (just as well). Red and green channel marker lights flash at night, in the daytime boats speed or sail by, ships glide past. Above Shell Island, Gulf of Mexico and the horizon, clouds constantly change the sky and Bay. Picture above at dawn this morning. On the average, our view is above average. Sometimes spectacular.

Sky changes second by split second as clouds evolve shapes and with the rising sun’s continually moving angle on them. At some 31,536,000 seconds per year, if I stand outside watching and snapping sky- and seascapes all my lifetime, no two will be identical. Same with lifetimes, no two identical even with the same world passing by in the house or outside, at the breakfast table or on the way to Cove School: in a conversation as our mother lay dying, my sister once told me that growing up, she and I did not have the same mother. 

No two in a couple experience the same marriage either, beginning June 29, 1957, ours far different, early mine in the crypto-shack in a destroyer, hers alone back home with a tiny girl. Mine years later standing topside on a warship in Danang watching flashes and waiting for the thud as planes dive in, bomb targets on a mountain high above the harbor, and rise into the night sky; hers answering a knock on the door: grim policeman standing there gripping the hand of a boy, reporting that he and his friend were apprehended on a hill throwing rocks at trucks speeding by on the interstate. Later again, me in various pulpits, she in a pew in my line of sight, smiling and encouraging me even when I talk too long. We like all of life are memories, even shared years of love not the same. 


Today: 59 years. 


LP to CW 6-29-57

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

... wild black yonder,



When Jeremy is here, he brews a pot of English tea, and after they leave I hope there’s tea remaining in the brown betty, because it makes the most delicious iced tea imaginable. Unsweet over ice: perfect. With supper last evening.

Supper. Taking it out of the freezer, Linda thought it was beef. Turns out two patties of ground lamb I bought at TAFB commissary last week. She had hers plain, medium well. Folded into mine a chunk of English Stilton, on top a thick slice of marvelous Vidalia onion that we get once a year, springtime they show up. They are not hot, make a perfect onion sandwich, touch mayonnaise. Supper last night, seared on each side, rare lamb patty with Stilton, topped with Vidalia onion slice. 

TAFB Monday evening, night ops. Starting at sunset, watching as they take off, rise high, bank left above me, west and south out over the Gulf of Mexico then around maybe far as Apalachicola, PSJ, Mexico Beach and back. Two lights coming closer, down, briefly disappear behind the tree line, then up. Bingo? Night landings: from here I watch Tyndall’s tower light bright white, then comes round green … white … green … white … 

Turns out it’s not Brexit but Engexit, touch of nationalism felt as patriotism some of it perhaps by those still living who, hearing the sirens, dashed for the nearest air raid shelter and huddled, frightened, German bombs exploding distant, coming closer, learned to hate and, with me, have never been able to let it go. Fear, hatred, distrust, contempt, suspicion lodges deep, deeper than logic and undeterred by enlightened wisdom that total interdependence is the only preventative against the past. EU executive who rightly deplored “stark polarization and disturbing nationalism” didn't hear the sirens. 


Two last evening, or four, two by two. Raptors? IDK. In my binoculars, two roaring lights, round and round. Off we go into the ...

DThos+








Monday, June 27, 2016

Noisily

Noisily: when “acolyte” is a verb


As it arrived ominously from the north and east, we watched a small sailboat anchored in the Bay just off our porch, four people diving unconcerned. A fearsome streak of lightning off to the east, thunder rumbling steadily but never close. Heavens darkened, Bay blackened, storm came over like doomsday with everything but the doom, the sailors divers eventually hoisted anchor and moved away, sail flapping noisily.


Noisily. Acolyte, small boy with whom I could identify from seventy-five years ago, fiddled with his cross noisily through the sermon, tried noisily but unsuccessfully to catch the light in it and flash here or there, kept dropping it noisily against the wood pew. In time, to stop the adults and older boys from turning around and glaring at him, I collected his cross quietly, held it through the Prayers, Confession and Absolution, handed it back to him during The Peace. He was oblivious, bored, impatient, nothing to do but be still and quiet which, read Tom Sawyer or be one, is not a small boy gift. Wednesday evenings okay, but there was a reason why we had to wait until we were ten to acolyte Sunday mornings. Noisily clarifies Jesus’ commandment “Suffer the little children” as they suffer noisily, and helplessly suffer our adultness.


Burst of wind, light spray hinting rain that never came, it rumbled darkly off south and west, ending the day.

DThos+



Sunday, June 26, 2016

something about life

The Tempest

Rose early this morning considering life’s renaissance of the last couple months: with blackened room and other factors, “Nothing of him that doth fade / But doth suffer a sea-change,” thanks WmS, and most days lately I’m sleeping until about six; a sea change indeed, from early days in Apalachicola, summer 1984 onward, awakened by the predawn alarm of roosters crowing all across town, my waking and rising time has been for the birds, the fowl. With the climaxing of heart issues late summer 2010, excellent time of day to contemplate and write, or meditate. But renaissance is not a suffering, and life does not have to make sense or be explained.

We like our new with the relocation hobby of watching ships come and go, especially larger ones. Yesterday, Federal Skye, 623 x 93, arriving to load wood pellets for Liverpool. This as she turned broadside in the morning sun, headed for Port


Collect for today legitimizes our opening hymn, “The Church’s one foundation.” 

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
As the sun faded last evening, what appeared a substantially larger ship, from the east end of StAndrewsBay headed our way but then out the Pass in the far channel, never coming close by us for a clearer shot and not on the vessel schedule for identification. She must have come from the papermill or the shipyard. Just passing Davis Point



Saturday, June 25, 2016

June 25th


This evening fifty-eight years ago, we walked through the door of the emergency room at Athens General Hospital, we were living in Athens, Georgia, and I told the several nurses standing there, “We need somebody to tell us if we’re going to have a baby.” Behind me, Linda pushed an enormous stomach up to the counter, and the nurses burst into laughter. She was 21, I was 22, a Navy ensign, and we had been married exactly a year. It was our first experience with birth labor, and we thought what was happening was contractions, but we weren’t positive. Malinda was born that overnight. I had wanted a baby girl ever since taking care of first cousins the Malone girls when they were infants, and my heart filled to bursting with love for this child. 

It was still the day and age when fathers were nobodies at hospital, and I wasn’t allowed to hold her until I took her out of the car when we arrived home a day later; after which Linda practically had to fight me to hold her even for nursing. 

One year later to the day, I was a lieutenant (junior grade) in USS Corry, a destroyer, ship tied up at our homeport in Norfolk. Wife and baby picked me up at the destroyer-submarine piers and drove us home. As we walked into the livingroom, Linda stood Malinda on the floor and she toddled straight across the room to her daddy. Somewhere around here in family memorabilia is a picture of her later that day, June 25, 1959, burying her face in her first birthday cake.

Wasn’t this morning’s best picture of distant clouds over the horizon, but the only one a seagull flew into the scene just as I snapped.

DThos+ in +Time+ 

still smitten with my girls, all of whom I will see today. Linda, Malinda, Tass, Kristen, Caroline, Charlotte, Lillie.


Friday, June 24, 2016

No hurry


Except for the black coffee and nibble of dark chocolate, little makes sense at 0314 when I finally surrender and get up for the day. As I gaze out into the distance, that row of green lights far away across StAndrewsBay, for example, is actually, as if actuality were a factor, the reflection of tiny green lights on kitchen appliances and the green light on the hvac thermostat behind me here inside the condo. Half my perception then is imagination, or more. Or fantasy: do old fantasies that are part of my being, comprise part of my reality. Or history. And who cares. 78.8F 81%.

British voted 52 to 48 to leave the, when I was at UMichigan it was a huge speculative possibility called, Common Market. Though their vote affects others, it’s their sense of national identify v. being ruled by foreigners. EU seems like a great idea for them, free trade, free movement, interdependence eliminating war, common language, reassembling the tower of Babel. If asked to give up being American for the good of the world at large, my response is neither ambiguous nor ambivalent. It should be, but it isn’t.

Looking across, over and beyond Shell Island into the Gulf of Mexico: a string of lights that appears to be a large ship anchored offshore. I went out on the porch to look with binoculars, and it’s not the microwave in the background behind me, but so far it’s just lights. Me facing south, ship facing west, as I can see her green starboard running light. Both of us waiting for Friday to dawn.

Pic: leaving port at sunset.


DThos+

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thursday 20160623


Thursday: looking forward to visit and lunch with Frank, don’t know yet where we’ll go. Favorite so far is Stinky’s out on 30A beyond SeaSide, best fried oysters. Best fried mullet, Gene’s Oyster Bar but can’t depend on the mullet arriving. Best beer? 


Looks like a blue day but is not. 

StAndrewsBay clear until a few minutes ago, tug towing two barges through the Pass and arriving just across from me. 


In the Gulf, barges are towed from astern with wide distance between tug and barge, and between barge and barge. Once in the Bay, the tug stops (as I’m watching this moment) disconnects, snugs the barges together, then connects astern the second barge and pushes instead of pulling. This for tight control in the inland waterway where there are sharp turns, &c and where barges could drift and do damage or go aground if towed. Seems logical that the tug captain must first ascertain, before he stops in the channel, that the Bay channel will be clear of ships coming and going while he does his dance. 

Email exchanges with second cousin and friends already this morning. 

Looking forward to the day. Saturday is Malinda’s birthday, TJCC et al coming from Tallahassee, and the plan is early supper at Captain Anderson's.

Seems to me the Brexit referendum is today. Just as much bitter, vicious hatred wrapped up in it as in our presidential election.

DThos+ still mucking along ...

Thursday 20160623


Thursday: looking forward to visit and lunch with Frank, don’t know yet where we’ll go. Favorite so far is Stinky’s out on 390 beyond SeaSide, best fried oysters. Best fried mullet, Gene’s Oyster Bar but can’t depend on the mullet arriving. Best beer? 


Looks like a blue day but is not. 

StAndrewsBay clear until a few minutes ago, tug towing two barges through the Pass and arriving just across from me. 


In the Gulf, barges are towed from astern with wide distance between tug and barge, and between barge and barge. Once in the Bay, the tug stops (as I’m watching this moment) disconnects, snugs the barges together, then connects astern the second barge and pushes instead of pulling. This for tight control in the inland waterway where there are sharp turns, &c and where barges could drift and do damage or go around if towed. Seems logical that the tug captain must first ascertain, before he stops in the channel, that the Bay channel will be clear of ships coming and going while he does his dance. 

Email exchanges with second cousin and friends already this morning. 

Looking forward to the day. Saturday is Malinda’s birthday, TJCC et al coming from Tallahassee, and the plan is early supper at Captain Anderson's.

Seems to me the Brexit referendum is today. As much bitter, vicious hatred wrapped up in it as in our presidential election.

DThos+ still mucking along ...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sea 'n Sky


20160621 we watched two ships arrive through the Pass, east in the far channel to the hairpin, west in the near channel heading for the turn north toward the Port. Early on, Lauritzen’s CS Crystal, 587 x 92, from Veracruz to load wood pellets then to Liverpool - -


Later, wine time as I was waiting for pelicans, 


Sichem Hong Kong (Bertel Line) 422 x 66, with a cargo of molasses, last port Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. May be her first time in here, as instead of waiting at the north turn as usual, her main tug slipped out into the near channel to pick her up early. 


As I was snapping her, an osprey sailed by just out of Linda’s reach, clutching a large fresh caught mullet. Regret missing that pic. But last evening I realized how difficult it is to photograph wildlife, total patience required, and they move by so quickly. Besides the usual osprey, a large "sea-hawk" bird, black or very dark and with a red head, zipped by several times


Summer reading: so far, the political scene is capturing me, essays from Atlantic. This is a decent analysis


but that doesn’t change my view for a constitutional amendment to eradicate the political class before they can load themselves up with salaries and perks. One term and you get a bus ticket, two terms and you climb steps to a long drop. I found myself in a statement late in the essay, “Neurotic hatred of the political class is the country’s last universally acceptable form of bigotry,” and yes, OMG I detest these unspeakables, every man and beast of them, not a healthy attitude on chaotic disaster in process. When Legislative so no longer works, Executive seizing power is inevitable and unstoppable. Meanwhile Populist Outsider changes masks and makes promises to every gathering of cheering fools.

Taco night at HNEC. “Oh, Father Tom, you’ve lost weight.” No, I got a haircut.


DThos+

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

$8.40 + Tip


Sitting out here on my porch irrelevantly humming “When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain” with Kate Smith somewhere back in the crevices of the cranium haunting mind and memories, trying to visualize what it would have been like in the ages when Selene, newborn, filled a fourth of the firmament, as astronomers say. Speeding away from earth at the rate of 1.48 inches per year, that would have been a long time ago. Already in my lifetime, though, she has moved almost ten feet farther away, and sure enough I can see she’s a little smaller than she was the day my parents brought me home from hospital. By a couple billion more years, she will have withdrawn so distant that earth’s entire ecosystem will have changed. "To her proud waves, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther'" will no longer be efficacious, and Thomas Hardy’s prophecy will have come down, the Lord eternally grieving and eternally repenting, "Written indelibly On my eternal mind - - all the wrongs endured By earth’s poor patient kind” and cannot be undone, weighing mercilessly on Pantokrator’s conscience into the ages of ages and beyond.

Which will have included all that we were allowed to do to each other from the moment He entered the serpent and craftily offered Eve the apple. An experiment to see what would happen.

Less somber, Tuesday, 20160621 haircut day, $10 including tip, browse AFEES electronics section, baptize chocolates with salivation, then stroll down the meat row at TAFB commissary window-shopping huge thick porterhouse steaks that L won’t let me buy. 

Last evening we sat out here on the porch, me with iPhone camera at ready watching and waiting for the pelicans to glide by heading to bird island for the night. I didn’t get even one good shot but will keep trying.


DThos+

Looks like the second bird is missing: perhaps a slot saved for Elijah.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Moon

Full moon arriving last evening



72F 68% and a gentle breeze, pelicans sailing by heading east, Monday begins perfect. At least for me, us, in 7H. First day in seventy years the summer solstice has been greeted by the full moon. Reportedly, summer actually begins at four o’clock this afternoon. 

Bit of dark chocolate, black coffee and a cool beginning for summer. 

Full moon departing this morning


It’s almost tomorrow, and here comes the sun - - -


DThos+

DreamWeavers, 1953

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sermon: What are you doing here?

What are you doing here?

Summer weather, summer freedom. Instead of being and doing here this morning, you could be doing anywhere under the sun instead of sitting in church. And your mind probably is, is anywhere. I know, mine is. I’m on Shell Island, where you were last Sunday morning.

“What are you doing here, Elijah?” 

Elijah bragging piously about his piety, to which Yahweh, Adonai the Lord, says, 

‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’

Now there was a great wind, so strong it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire the sound of no sound at all. 

What do you hear from God in response to your prayers? From the God of Elijah, what do you hear? Anything? What do you expect to hear? What do you hope to hear? What are you listening for?

In an email to all of us in the diocese this week, Bishop Russell Kendrick told about his experience with young people at summer camp, a “Leaders in Training” session for the youth at Camp Beckwith. 

The bishop said, “We … talked about how an apostle must listen for the voice of God amidst all the other voices we hear.  So, I asked them to name the voices they hear.  (He said) they told me about parents, teachers, friends, coaches, culture, and their own inner voice. They live in a very loud world and some of what they hear is downright discouraging.

(The bishop said) “I also asked them to share their answers to this question: ‘In this noisy world, what is it that they most want to hear?’ These are a few of their answers:

  • I love you.
  • God's voice.  I don't want to wonder whether it is my imagination.
  • We trust you.
  • It’s all going to be OK one day.
  • I am proud of you.
  • I am enough.
  • You are worth it.
  • You are amazing and beautiful.

I was intrigued with one response, the boy or girl, the young man or woman who, in response to the bishop’s question “what is it that you most want to hear?” said “God’s voice. I don’t want to wonder whether it’s my imagination.”

It makes me ask: did Elijah wonder whether it was his imagination? If Elijah was sane, he must have wondered. Risking your judgment on my sanity, I’ve confessed to once, only once, and it was thirty-two years ago, late dark of night, February 13th, 1984, hearing the voice of God; God wiping my mind of all distractions and in response to my prayer, saying clearly, “I AM speaking to you, Tom Weller.” And here I am, nearly half my life later, knowing what I heard, but over the years wondering whether it was my imagination. Especially seeing that it was only that one time, while God’s response to all the other prayers of my life, before and since that moment, has been the sound of no sound, the sound of sheer silence. Am I insane? Or am I not listening?

A one-time serious amateur astronomer, I’ve gazed far too distant out into the universe of sun, moon, galaxies, planets and stars to be anybody’s fool. Elijah’s chariot of fire and horses of fire notwithstanding, God does not dwell beyond the clouds, nor high in the sky outside the blue bowl of the firmament, as the ancients believed. There is no blue bowl, it’s just the vast expanse of interstellar space, filled with objects greater than my imagination. And anyway, God is Spirit.

When you pray, what do you hear, what do you expect to hear, what are you listening for when you speak to God in prayer? What do you hope to hear — in response — ???

With me that one single time, it was a still, small voice. “I AM speaking to you, Tom Weller.” Still to this day, telling about it makes me foolish, embarrassed, a bit off, mentally unbalanced. But no, I confess, I heard it. A still, small voice, not the sound of sheer silence. Always since then, the sound of silence, but just that one time, a still, small voice.

There is a question in the community of Bible reading Christians. (Check it out online if you will, I have) probably not so much among Jews, those who speak and read the Hebrew: at First Kings 19, what did Elijah hear after the wind and the earthquake and the fire, in which he knew the presence of Yahweh the Lord? The “still, small voice” of the King James Bible is literal, and in English becomes poetic imagery, but that’s not what the Hebrew idiom says. Elijah heard nothing, zero in mathematical terms, less than zero, math concepts that did not even exist in Elijah’s time, not simply the sound of sheer silence, but the sound of no sound at all. If you are turning down the music volume on your iPod, you have to turn it down to minus ten to hear the voice of God, and there’s no such setting, less than no sound, a negative volume. What utter nonsense — except mathematically —

That’s the answer I hear to my prayers, how about you? I get no answer from the sky, I hear nothing, less than nothing. The overly pious (which I am not) may rationalize God’s silence by shaking their head “wisely” and saying, “sometimes God’s answer is No,” but that’s a crock: cheesy theology, and cheap faith that squirms to let God off the hook like last week’s pagan Baal who did not or could not light the fire to burn the sacrifice of the false prophets, the priests of Baal (1 Kings 18, we read the story right here just a couple weeks ago). Elijah laughed when the 450 prophets of Baal prayed and shouted and danced and chanted and cut themselves such that they bled profusely. Because we Episcopalians are nothing if not “people of good taste,” you heard a sanitized version of the story, but what the Hebrew bible says is that when hours and hours had gone by and Baal did not show up, Elijah laughed, mocking them with scorn and derision, “Maybe it’s Baal’s day off. Maybe he’s in the outhouse, Maybe your god is sitting on the john!” yuk yuk yuk - - -

But here we are too with a God whom scripture says can and did answer prayer (if what we read is true, Yahweh certainly responded to Elijah’s prayer) but what about me: Is my experience that He does not and will not, so maybe cannot; (he would if he could, but he won’t, so he can’t).

That’s foolish! With faith in the God of Jesus Christ, I’m standing on the promise, standing on the promises of Christ my King, standing on the promises of God my savior - - “Where two or three are gathered in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.” There’s no promise of a voice, the clarion voice of God, no such promise. The promise is of God’s presence. Within and beyond the din of noisy life, I have to listen and peer into the silence, the sound of no sound at all, the volume at minus ten, where there’s no sound but the static of the universe. 

As the bishop said, listening for the voice of God amidst all the other voices we hear — parents, teachers, friends, coaches, culture, and their own inner voice. What about you, what voices do you hear? What voices have I heard? 

The voice of God in the people around me asking, “Tom, did you ever think of going to seminary and becoming a priest?” Yes, I thought of that long ago; and long ago decided not to, don’t keep bugging me about it. (I’ve told you that story, and not again this morning). I’m here today because of God’s obnoxious voice in the people around me, hounding me.

Who or what is God? My theology professor at seminary answered the question this way - - 

God is whoever or whatever said “Let there be,” and it was so — the sound of the Big Bang (which was the sound of sheer silence, the sound of no sound at all because there were no ear drums to hear it, nobody listening.

God is whoever or whatever created us male and female in the divine image.

God is whoever or whatever led the people of Israel out of Egypt. 

God is whoever or whatever Jesus called “Abba,” “Father.” “Daddy.” 

God is whoever or whatever raised Jesus from the dead.

And my answer today:

God is whoever or whatever is in the midst of us when two or three gather in God’s name — as we are this morning, this moment — God present in the Word. Spoken by each of us, to each other.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

++++++++++++
Sermon in Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Panama City, Florida on Sunday, June 19, 2016. Proper 7C. 1 Kings 19:1-15a. The Rev. Tom Weller

When I was at seminary thirty-five years ago, our homiletics professor advised us never print and publish our sermons; but that if we had no choice, make sure it says what we meant to say or should have said, over against what we actually did say. I’m afraid this one hasn’t been edited. Raw.


DThos+