Monday, April 3, 2017

brambles

Sunday afternoon nap, about an hour, total deep sleep. Besides standard clergy nap time, 

we both waked up at two o’clock Sunday morning unable to go back to sleep, got up by two-thirty for coffee and chocolate, stayed up for the fire alarm, flashing lights, shouting emergency speaker, don't use the elevators, wailing siren, arrival of the fire truck, firemen streaming along the walkways below us. False alarm, but now we know what Harbour Village residents wear for pajamas. 

Not sure which does it, surely both, but waking doesn’t seem accomplished with just coffee, requires chocolate also. Any dark chocolate. Bar I’m working on now is 72%, and I can take higher cacao, though 88% is bitter, but around 70% seems about right. For some years I had dark bars from Endangered Species cacao 49% and perfect. It’s not all “heart healthy,” but I love all and any chocolate, including a bar Kristen brings me from Emory now and then; and a bar I buy at Tyndall BX, Nestle’s damak, that’s milk chocolate with pistachio nuts. From time to time splurge for a box of Hawaiian chocolates with macadamia nuts. A problem is that I love a 16 ounce mug of icy cold whole milk with chocolate, and much milk makes various internal tracts say no.

Part of post-nap thought and conversation Sunday afternoon turned to my strangeness. I have a sense of being quite strange. All my years, my mother said I was born thirty years old. From age nine my Saturdays were 100% working at the fish market, no play or kiddie matinee for Bubba. I was the only naval officer I ever knew who was deep-selected for early promotion to O3, I think that's no longer allowed. At seminary I was told, “You have an eccentric preaching style, but it works for you.” Several years into my fourteen year tenure at Trinity, Apalachicola, the diocesan Canon to the Ordinary was overheard to remark, “There are two priests in the diocese whom I don’t understand: Jack Wilhite and Tom Weller.” Well, okay, not understanding self either, I don’t mind being strange, long as I’m personally aware of self to some extent. At this age, my father, God rest his soul, was often a crotchety old man, I’m trying not to be that. Strange, okay; cross, no. 

Constantly shifting, my theology is as far from whatever "orthodox" Christianity is as one might get and still arrive in black shirt and white collar; but heretic is not in our 21st century vocabulary. My tastes in food are strange, unusual: mullet or oysters for breakfast, shrimp, pizza with double anchovies, liverwurst anytime, mayonnaise on my pizza. Over my years, I’ve known many people and felt close to several, but some whom I felt close to in time surprised me such that I’m wary anymore. I have an aversion to being where I’m not wanted. Don’t get in my personal space. And I agree with Vice President Mike Pence: no lunch or alone time with any woman but my wife, whoever thinks he's wrong or old fashioned is stupid. 

Diversity: for several years during my forties, as adjunct professor for a university's political science division, I taught graduate courses in major defense weapons systems acquisition management while simultaneously studying at a Lutheran seminary for the Episcopal priesthood. In my lifetime I’ve owned sixty or seventy automobiles and enjoy listing them for myself from time to time. Favorite: new red Tahoe, or decade old SRX V8 I drive now. Car I had the most fun in: yellow Olds Cutlass hardtop coupe I bought used from Wayne Haughey. 

Most important thing I did at my last Navy duty station was go to the annual Antique Automobile Club of America fall meet at Hershey, PA, cold and drizzly, aroma of hot cocoa wafting in the damp. I looked for the coffee and hot chocolate booth, then realized it was coming from Hershey's chocolate factory. Mornings and evenings, I like to sit out here on 7H porch and enjoy clouds, sunups, sundowns, ominously gathering storms, ships, a flashing green navigation light, scary violent thunderstorms with pelting rain, pelicans gliding by, ospreys hovering high above StAndrewsBay spotting fish and then sailing by clutching a mullet while sounding a victorious screech, USAF jet fighters, occasional lightning strike just out of reach, weddings in the park below. The privacy here. Covered parking. The gate. Navy craft heading out for a day's victory at sea.

No voices yet, but now and then music, a tune, hymn or love song, stuck in my brain, won’t let me be, torments for days on end. As a child and youth I read voraciously, then let go of fiction for decades, now a taste for odd novels, books of autobiographical essays from a man’s life and years. My life’s most treasured work outside the home: chaplain and religion & ethics teacher those years at Holy Nativity Episcopal School. Taking the kids donuts. Working on the school building with Bill Lloyd. Working at the fish market with my brother. Least favorite from long years ago: tolerating a grossly narcissistic priest.

Basically, I despise television, noise, invasive presence; but enjoy occasional movie, Casablanca, or movies of fiction I’ve loved. At the moment, taken with the rector’s sermon yesterday, I’ve found eugene o’neill’s stage production Lazarus Laughed and loving reading it; quite long, be prepared to doze off, it isn't always gripping. For a few years after retirement from parish priest, I seemed to be the go-to minister for officiating elegant society weddings at various churches around town. One of many things I have found out in life is that if someone comes to me with a big gripe, a major complaint about someone in their life, the other side’s complaint is usually even bigger. I’ve also found it almost inevitable that whenever I counsel a marriage problem, no matter how it turns out, one party or both end up hating me; which used to be discouraging, but once I found out it’s the rule, I’m okay with it. Detest traveling by plane anymore, love train but hate the road trip to get to the train depot hundreds of miles away; and, fine while it lasted, I’m done with cruise ships. Finally perhaps for the moment: I’m fifteen, seventeen and eighteen, forty and in my forties, but don’t know how the gardenia alphabet hell I got to be eighty-one years old. We live once: contentment and pursuit of happiness is no one’s responsibility but one's own: don’t be so cautious, go for it, trying to leave in your wake as little collateral damage as possible.



What object have I owned in life bringing most joy? 7H on Sea. What did I not have in life that I wanted. Well, a red convertible, eh, but I did get to use Bill Guy’s red 1949 Ford convertible all that summer 1955 or 1956 while he was visiting his aunt Maggie and family in St. Paul, Minnesota. What might I change? Be a Navy fighter pilot instead. But seminary and priest earlier in life as I intended in my teens? No way: I loved getting here through the brambles.

/s/ No Fool like an Old Fool 

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