Journal: September 11, 2021


It has been a slow and quiet Saturday, so I decided to add a bit of excitement to the day. Yes. I cut the cat’s toenails. It is an event that brings on screams of displeasure, shouts of anguish, bleeding (mine… most certainly not the Queens!), and then a game of, How Far Can I Sink My Teeth Into Your Ankle. A game that is only appreciated by cats, but one they engage in with the same vigor and conniving that Voldemort went after Harry. I can still walk, so that is a bonus.

A picture I took from the observation deck of the WTC. Around 1989. Statue of Liberty in the distance.

Today I have also remembered. I’ve remembered 20 years ago and what happened and where I was. What happened… we all know. Where was I… I had just entered seminary and we all knew that the world had forever changed. I remember crying and knowing there wasn’t a dang thing I could do. I remember being so angry that I confessed to wanting to be in hell the instant the terrorist opens their eyes and realized how very wrong they were and knowing the eternity of punishment they would be receiving. I remember today, but with perhaps a bit less venom, but let’s just say that I am still no Saint and a long ways from it. I will leave room for God and his vengeance. Now, I’m mostly afraid of the vengeance that is directed towards and deserved by me. I pray: I don’t need a mansion in heaven. Just a cot in the basement will be fine for this poor wretched sinner. Just please, Lord, let me in!

Did I mention that I had finished reading Fahrenheit 451? I read it many moons before and it didn’t mean much then. Now… well, I hope you’ll read tomorrow’s sermon (or come hear it preached!), but let’s just say that it had considerable more impact the second time through than it did the first. One thing that did not make it into the sermon (perhaps another time) was when Clarisse said to Montag, “You’re not like the others. I’ve seen a few; I know. When I talk, you look at me. When I said something about the moon, you looked at the moon, last night.” It just made me think. When someone talks… look at them. When they talk about the moon, look at the moon. And when it rains… well… tilt your head back and open your mouth. I’m off on A Man Called Ove now and very much enjoying it. Same author that wrote Anxious People, which you’ll recall won high marks in our little world. After that, I’m not sure, but it may be the next book club selection for the Saints Book Club at the church.

Movies: we’ve made some progress in this department simply because I went back and watched some favorites, but it didn’t start that way. Yes. I was bored, so I stuck with it: 10.0 Earthquake. Maybe it is just me, but with a title like that, I fully expect Denver to become beach front property! My stars! We’ve had a few shakes here in Oklahoma and that movie didn’t produce half the excitement. Well, maybe except for when the beach swallowed up a surfer, but that could have been a scene out of Sand Sharks, which we all know at least had a decent body count! Oh my goodness! I see there is a Sand Sharks II! Where the heck is the remote. I hope I have a job after confessing to have watched the first one. But! Yes! One I’ve rewatched was the entire Matrix Trilogy. Why? Because they are making #4. I can honestly say that I’ve not been this excited about a movie coming out since The Lord of the Rings and not the most recent one, but the animated version they made back in 1978! I’ve watched the trailer of the new Matrix (due out Christmas) and now, after watching the trilogy again, I know what #4 will be about: love. Yes. Love. Severus had his “Always” and so does Neo. “Hello, Trinity, love of my life. Let’s meet in New York and catch a show! I found a way through time and the machines and all the way back to you.” I love a good love story. Click here for the preview to The Matrix: Resurrection. They won’t let me embed it… go figure. Dang machines!

What I’ve learned: as I’ve gotten older, the capacity for the amount of BS I’ll put up with has diminished significantly. That goes for the BS that I dish out to myself. I use to believe that bit, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I would like to live a life that the Lord has chosen for me and one that does not involve so much drama. I can deal with life’s drama-that’s just a part of living-but that created bit, the bit that you think is real, but that really only exists… in the Matrix… that’s the bit I’m weary of. Ask yourself: “Is it live or is it the Matrix?” You know what I mean. If it is live, deal with it. If not, in the words of some very wise three legged dog, “Kick some dirt over that shit and move on.”

Thought for the day (and it does link to the sermon for tomorrow): “Those who don’t build must burn.” – Fahrenheit 451 (p.85) People will burn all day long, but you… you never get tired of building. It is easy to burn. Strike a match and watch what goes up. Building, on the other hand, is work, hard work and dang well worth it. I definitely have my struggles and there are days when I want to chuck it all in, but when I come to my senses… I’ll put on my rundown cowboy boots and dig those heels in. As my friend St. Joan of Arc would say, “It was for this that I was born!” You got this… Illegitimi non carborundum.

Journal: September 1, 2021

Well… it wasn’t COVID (according to the two tests I took), but everything pointed in that direction. Cough, fever, congestion, no taste/smell, death warmed over, etc. It still bought me ten days of quarantine and although I’m not a huge people person… ten days is a bit much to be alone. Many thanks to all the messages, notes, breads, and cinnamon buns I received. Truly a blessing.

When it comes to no taste/smell, eating is just weird. What you discover is that temperature and texture become the primary attractions. A nice cold chicken salad with fruit, nuts, chunks of chicken… brilliant. Peanut butter on cheese is like having a wad of congealed, slightly solidified… you get the picture. It ain’t pleasant. Although, it was peanut butter that first keyed me in that I was missing those two senses. Yes… I always have a bit of peanut butter with my breakfast, but a week ago Tuesday, I opened the jar and… nothing. Really? And then it hit me. I thought, What is the most potent smelling item I have in the house? Answer: Benedictine! (Created my a monk in 1510 from 27 different plants and spices. Supposedly, only three people on the planet know the complete recipe… brilliant!) On a good day, you can take a solid sniff of Benedictine and you’ll likely burn your eyebrows off and most definitely all your nose hairs! It is delicious, but you must approach it with caution. It is meant for sipping and small sniffs. On that Tuesday, I picked up the bottle, removed the cap and gave a tentative… sniff. Nothing. I mean… nothing. I then grasped the neck of the bottled and breathed it in as though it were my dying breath… not even the vapors could penetrate the void of my sniffer! Granted, it was only 8-ish in the morning, but I gave myself a short taste….. my head bowed, my eyes teared, and my heart sank. Not even a tingle. I am happy to report that after ten days quarantine and two negative COVID tests, the sniffer and taster are back 90% with the exception of peanut butter. Odd.

Last week was spent mostly sleeping and waiting for test results. That is boring on many levels, but this week picked up and I was able to work some solid hours and read. I finished, In This House of Brede, and this evening completed, Billy Summers, by Stephen King. You should read Brede. An amazing and beautiful story. Billy Summers is a completely different kind of read. It is not your normal Stephen King supernatural. In fact, there is no supernatural in it (with the exception to a few excellent references to The Shining: The Overlook Hotel and that lively topiary out front.) Side-by-side, I would have to give Brede a solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and Billy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2. Sorry Mr. King, but side-by-side… yeah. Next up is one I read many years ago, Fahrenheit 451, but having recently reread 1984, I thought I should… remember. Definitely putting a dint in that stack… with several others waiting to join (I will resist you, Amazon!)

Movies… seriously? How is it so much money can go into making so many bad movies? I may have to make my own.

Tomorrow I get to re-enter the world. I understand that it has been hot out there and based on the news I’ve been reading… COVID or not, I am an exceptionally blessed individual. The world is a mess right now and is in need of your prayers. Say one or two, even if it only amounts to, “Dear God….” followed by the shaking of your head. He gets that. I’m certain He’s done a bit of that Himself here recently.

Oh… before I forget: Nikita is the name of the Pinot Noir that I’m currently making. It is not named after the American version of this movie or the TV series (ugh), but after the original, La Femme Nikita, starring Anne Parillaud (hubahuba), written and directed by Luc Besson. Why Nikita… I’m thinking she will live up to this name. Will not be bottled until early October, but… wowza. Lots of flavor (even for one who is only at 90% tasting!) Haven’t come up with a label for it yet, but that image right there may just do the trick.

What I’ve learned: It won’t spoil the plot, so… Billy Summers is partly about a guy who is writing a book. It speaks of the joys and the “zone” you get in while doing so. That said, it made me hungry to write again. I’ve had a few fitful starts here recently, but I think I’m ready now. I actually don’t do well with too much time on my hand (which I’ve had), I don’t feel any pressure, but now… oh, yeah… I just looked at my calendar. Bring on a bit of pressure and bring on the words. Love it all.

Thought for the day: you will never know true desperation until you hang onto a C-17 cargo plane during takeoff in hopes that you can escape your current situation. Live your life like Zaki Anwari would have lived his had he survived. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Journal: August 20, 2021

My question for today: exactly when did they start using super glue to seal up the single serve string cheese? I can only imagine these things going in some small child’s lunchbox. I finally broke out a knife and slit it along the side and there may have been a few choice words along the way. Now that I’ve got that off my mind…

Movies: started several, finished none. Oy. Next.

I continue the Camino prep / exercise. After going at it strong for a week I gained two pounds. Rrr. Ok. Fine. I’ll just keep at it knowing that the process works. Exercise and burn more calories than you take in. That’s how it is supposed to work, although it can be as frustrating as opening a single serve string cheese! Each day I have to tell myself the Nike slogan and then put on my Brooks and do it. I will definitely get there.

When Christians fight one another: a disgrace. As Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Satan greatly approves of our railing at each other, but God does not.” There are more than enough studies out there showing that the Church is in decline and there are also several studies that show one of the greatest contributing factors is the way Christians treat other Christians. Yep. That’s right. The greatest harm to the Church is not from the outside, but from within. Think about it: you see fighting in your home, at work, on the TV, in social media and you think to yourself, “I’ll go to church, because there I will find peace and unity.” But instead of finding peace and unity, you find more upheaval, more of the same, more of the world. Who needs that?! Not me. “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” — Brennan Manning.

The Christian is to remain humble. The Christian is to see themselves as the greatest of all sinners and their brothers and sisters as souls to be loved. The Christian is to build up and not tear down. The Christian does not wave a flag, the Christian carries a Cross (a Cross that is for you to be crucified upon so that you might die with Christ and Rise with Christ.) The Christian is a candle in a dark cave, seeking out the lost and showing the way to freedom, fresh air, and The True Light.

“Finally, brothers (that includes you sisters, too!), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me (I was going to delete that bit, because it is not always what you see in me) practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

My goodness! He went and got all preachy on us.

What I learned today (and have known, but wanted to say): I also believe in miracles.

Thought for the day:

StTeresa of Calcutta

“These are the few ways we can practice humility:
To speak as little as possible of one’s self.
To mind one’s own business.
Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.
To avoid curiosity.
To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
To pass over the mistakes of others.
To accept insults and injuries.
To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.
To be kind and gentle even under provocation.
Never to stand on one’s dignity.
To choose always the hardest.”

Journal: August 14, 2021

Last night: I have not watched The Matrix since I left seminary. This is a phenomenal movie and highly entertaining. Top on the list of cooldom are the phones (well, not top, because let’s face it… this is an awesome movie.) No. Not the old rotary dial gizmos. Yes. I’ve used one. Had to deal with the finger slipping and the wrong number dialed… lost my place and gotten one hole more than I should… etc… but we’re not talking about those kinds of phones. We’re talking about the Nokia 8110. This is design. This is cooldom. This is the phone we all want, but what we have are designless unimaginative coasters. Yes… they do all sorts of fun things and have more computing technology than the lunar landers, but…

Need I say more? No. That said… I would even trade the Nokia 8110 for my old Blackberry 8100 Pearl. That was a sweet phone. That was last night.

This morning: I slept in. Beautiful to sleep in. Had a few chores around the house that I knew I could get done… no worries. First chore: unloading the dishwasher. Half way done… the phone rings.

Phone message… phone message… I didn’t get to it while it was ringing, so I went about my business. My business was so important. Don’t you just hate it when the dishes in the dishwasher are supposed to be dry, but the little depression in the bottom of the glasses always holds the water. Then, if you don’t get to them in time (at least here in Enid) the hard water leaves a white ring / film on the bottom of the glass…. phone message… just let me finish with this one chore and I’ll get to it….

… it was his mom. He couldn’t call… he had died in his sleep. He was three years younger than me. God knows I hate myself sometimes. She couldn’t speak. I knew. I rushed. I put on the collar. I drove across town. Who the hell do I think I am? The prayers. The words. More words. He’s still gone and mom’s still… shit.

I came home. Took off the collar. Petted and loved on the Queen… then… then I finished unloading the dishwasher. Managed to run a knife deep into my hand in the process… it wasn’t intentional.

I should delete this, but I won’t. This is me.

What I learned today: “You do not know….” We all know that one. I don’t need to repeat it.

Thought for the day: May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Journal: August 5, 2021

It is out of control! It is growing! It must be remedied! What pray tell is he going on about this evening? The stack of unread books upon my desk! I am well into In this House of Brede, but my glasses are fogging up from the other unread volumes, and this says nothing about the number of Audible credits that are itching to be plundered (although, I confess, I’m really saving them up for books along the Camino.) So, where to go next? Constant Reader, we all know the answer to that one. Who is this Billy Summers? I have forbidden my curiosity from even reading the cover until I have finished Brede. Read on… read on! How wonderful to have all these words strung together and opening the imagination to other lives. I do love a good book.

I’ve been on vacation this week, but it has turned into about as much work as a normal work week. Is OK, because I love what I do and I got to sleep in a bit most days. Did I accomplish everything I wanted to do? Absolutely not. Hardly even scratched the surface, but… I have a good life whether on vacation or not, so I can’t really complain (not to mention I have a 13 week sabbatical next year! Did anyone else just hear the angel choirs singing, “Hallelujah!”) Of the work, the week was filled with plentiful meetings and more than a few emails and then there was the Sunday sermon for the 8th. I wrestled with that one ALL day yesterday. Called it quits about 9 p.m., watched a few episodes of the Tudors (season 2), sat back down with it at about 1:30 a.m. and the entire thing unfolded in front of me. After hearing it on Sunday, there may be some who would have preferred I folded it back up and put it back on whatever shelf I found it, but… I actually kind of like it. Speaking of which….

My sermons and sermon writing seem to be evolving these days. There is something different about the way they are forming up and the way they are preaching. I feel more of an urgency when writing them. Being a people pleaser is difficult work, but it seems that in my sermonating that I’ve been able to set that aside more. Yes… I’ve always sought to please God, but there’s always been this twitch that says, “Maybe you shouldn’t say that.” Well, that twitch called me up short on my silly story last week, but I feel much more free in the preaching. This week was the same if not more so. What’s that all about? I suppose it is good that we all grow (as long as we are growing in the right direction.)

The next two days will be truly vacation days where I may go blind from watching too many movies… the FLY Film Festival is tomorrow and Saturday and I’ve got my two day pass. Bring on the popcorn. Hmmm…. should I write my own movie reviews? (Enquiring minds would prefer I didn’t, but that’s never stopped me before!) Primarily short films with a few feature films thrown in for good measure. Very much looking forward to it. Please lead me to the nearest pub (Callahans… across the street from the Gaslight Theater), should you see me afterwards stumbling around in the bright sunshine.

I was just staring at a recipe for Salmon Cakes, which I will be making for hors d’oeuvres Monday night… yeah… you’re going to want to try those.

The Queen says, “Why you wake me?”

Please forgive, Your Majesty!

What I learned today: It is important to drink a margarita while cooking Mexican food. No… I did not cook Mexican food today, nor did I have a margarita, but I heard this from a reliable source. We should all cook more Mexican food. Carnitas anyone?

Thought for the day: “Did-a-chick? Dum-a-chum? Dad-a-cham? Ded-a-chek?” (Stephen King, The Drawing of the Three) The Lobstrosities sometimes make sense, but mostly it is just nonsense.

Pax

Journal: July 25, 2021

Introducing Fermina

On the day of Dr. Urbino’s death, Florentino Ariza announced to the ever elusive Fermina Urbino, “I have waited for this opportunity for more than half a century, to repeat to you once again my vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love.” This particular wine is Fermina in her younger years, when she sat out on the porch, gazing at the young man, Florentino, across the park, and watching him as he composed his letters of love to her. Either that or I just like the name. Either way, she is tasty. She was bottled today, which is a week later than planned–when trying last week, I accidentally hit the bottom of the carboy and disturbed the fine sediment. It was worth the wait. She settled out real purty. It came to 27 bottles, so that’ll make for some happy dinner parties in the near future (speaking of which, Creamy Chicken Francese is on the menu this Wednesday, served up with some Brussel Sprouts roasted in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and fresh made bread.)

Today, we had excellent church with several visitors… always a good thing! I had a preaching break and Ash C. stepped in for me. Love to preach, but nice to have the occasional Sunday off, plus it is good for everyone to hear from someone other than me. A line from Ash’s sermon that hit home: “We have expectations of how things should be and how we should respond to them, and yet when we turn our troubles to God we are surrendering our abilities to interfere and putting complete trust in him taking over and meeting our needs.” Yeah… she nailed it. She will make an excellent Dominican.

The most recent movie I watched comes from 1986, but one I’ve not seen before: Children of a Lesser God. Quite a remarkable film, especially the script that allowed for the audience to “hear” both sides of the conversation. Beautiful line: “Do you think we could find a place where we could meet… not in silence and not in sound.” Perhaps that finds the heart of most difficulties we experience when with others: we each want the other to enter our world, while we are unwilling to enter their’s. Perhaps a true and lasting relationship is one that discovers–together–the… new. Ah, but then we would have to sacrifice a part of ourselves and we just can’t have that! (So we retire to our separate corners for a respite and then come back out–gloves up.) I understand that the title of the movie is from a line in the poem Idyllys of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson:

I found Him in the shining of the stars,
I marked Him in the flowering of His fields,
But in His ways with men I find Him not.
I waged His wars, and now I pass and die.
O me! for why is all around us here
As if some lesser god had made the world,
But had not force to shape it as he would,
Till the High God behold it from beyond,
And enter it, and make it beautiful?

Thought for the day (and as it is Sunday): “Wine is like the incarnation–it is both divine and human.” ― Paul Tillich. I’ve had the first bottle of Fermina chilling for four hours… time to see how she really tastes.

Have a happy week.

Journal: July 16, 2021

Photo by h heyerlein on Unsplash

#1 danger of journaling late at night… you might tell the truth!

THOUGHTS:

You have to look at your own life. Your own sins. And then you wonder how you can change. At what point do we recognize that we’re not any better. You try so damn hard to be holy and righteous in the eyes of the Lord and fail so miserably every damn day. It’s funny how you look at the world differently. What do you want?

What if someone actually gives you permission to love? You don’t have to seek anyone’s approval, really not even your own. It is just something you know. Why sit around second-guessing your heart?

The world is full of such beautiful people. Where does hate come from? Why don’t we love the color of their lives?

To have someone pray for you in the language that they understand. Their words touch the face of God.

There’s nothing to be afraid of.

I write these words because I have no voice to speak to Him. I write these words because the sun rose behind the moon and there was no light except for you.

Life should be color. A riot of color.

#1 danger of journaling late at night… you might tell the truth!

What I learned today: see above.

Thought for the day: We need more scars. They hide the fresh wounds.

Sleep well.

Journal: July 11, 2021

Friday night was the night at the ballpark and a visit from dad, Saturday was a writing day (added 3,500 words to The Marble Finger) and today was the preaching day (the sermon–you can find it here–seemed to work) followed by a nice nap. That, my friends, is a delightful weekend. Now, to ease into next week and get a few more items checked off the list, one of which is Contemporary Koinonia a.k.a. COKO.

COKO is a journal that a priesty friend and I are starting. We both got so tired of hearing all the bad / angry news out there about the Episcopal Church and we both knew that there were some remarkable stories to tell, so we are in the process of creating a resource for sharing them. It is not a local journal, although some stories will be, but we are working to bring the stories of the church into a tool that will allow congregations, clergy, and bishops to see and hear about the great and transformative work that is taking place in our church. More to come on this later, but the first issue–we hope–will be out in October. Don’t worry, you won’t need a subscription. Good news should always be free!

Hard change of gears (hear them grinding) and we’re off to the movies….

After watching Snatch, I’m wondering who does crazy better, Brad Pitt or Jack Nicholson. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” And we all know Jack Torrance is about as crazy as they come! That said, Mickey O’Neil (Brad Pitt) is an excellent nut case and the movie is fun, but I have to wonder if Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson / The Shining) could take him. I’ll let you all weigh in on this one. Oh… it was a bit back we discussed Judi Dench’s laugh… brilliant, but I forgot about Brooke Adams in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1973). It’ll make you happy just to hear it (and the movies is one my favs.)

And now we begin a new week. What surprises will it bring… a friend unexpectedly pulling up in your driveway, a moment to see Jesus in the face of another, a few more words in the novel… who knows. Maybe all of the above. Hoping your week is filled with the unexpected… that reminds me of a sermon I preached years ago: there are no coincidences, there are only God-incidences–it was probably as goofy then as it sounds now, but you get the point.

What I learned today (at least for me): being disciplined requires a goal. To simply say I’m going to do something doesn’t generally motivate me to accomplish it. I need a carrot. Perhaps that’s OK, but wouldn’t it be nice… and perhaps even easier… if you could do something simply for the love of it? I think I need to work on this (although I do love my work and wouldn’t trade that for anything!)

Thought for the day: “Do not be afraid; our fate cannot be taken from us; it is a gift.” ― Dante Alighieri, Inferno It’s probably one of those that you print on a coffee cup and remember to read every now and then, but… that doesn’t make it any less true.

Journal: July 8, 2021

Dad is coming tomorrow and tomorrow evening is St. Matthew’s Night at the Ballpark. We shall see if I’m throwing out the first pitch (always an embarrassment for everyone concerned.) I use to play baseball when I was a kid, but some forty odd years later… I don’t remember so much, especially how to throw the ball.

Thursdays are my Fridays and I always find them difficult, mainly because it is no one else’s Friday and I spend the evening at home with the Queen. She’s around somewhere, but not very talkative. So, I’m generally searching for something, but I never really know what that is and no matter what… eat, drink, write, talk… it is never really satisfying. Always looking for something in the void.

I worked on the sermon today and finished up a bit later than I planned. It also was not the sermon I thought I would be preaching. This one came out a bit “harder” than what I’m accustomed to, but still very valid and relevant to the Gospel. It is interesting when we begin to look at the historical application and the immediate application. It is then that we begin to realize the complexity and genius of the Gospels. The “Living” Word is so very true. It moves… now, don’t misinterpret… I am NOT saying that it moves and we are free to interpret according to our whims (Heaven forbid! We would end up with no bookends/brackets/”Law” and it would all be higgelypiggely according to our own desires. “God created man in his image and man returned the favor” type of nonsense!) Grace supersedes it all, but grace does not allow for shenanigans! Can I get an, “Amen!”

This is what I have for tonight. It is a rambling mess, but it is a journal and journals are allowed to be rambling messes.

What did I learn today: I’m not always prepared to listen to my own preaching.

Thought for the day: Richard Baxter (don’t we loathe the Reformers and Protestants, especially when they speak truth! Oy!) “Take heed to yourselves, lest you perish, while you call upon others to take heed of perishing; and lest you famish yourselves while you prepare food for them.” I would die for them. I am so very thankful that He died for me! A room in the basement of Heaven with a cot is all I ask for, but I will give it up for the least of those I’m called to serve. Why should they suffer or be held accountable for my shortcomings?

I have no pictures this evening, so we’ll just settle for this video (fast forwarding) of me writing this particular post….

Pax