Saturday, 3 October 2009

Hard times come again no more

I was in a supermarket on Friday (2nd October ’09). The man ahead of me in line had purchases which totaled $110. He ran no less than five debit or credit cards through the reader. Each was “maxed out”. He left the market empty handed.

Today (3rd October ’09) at a convenience store/gas station the person in front of me bought $3 worth of gas (purchasing just over an [American] gallon). He paid with $3 worth of dimes.


I am reminded of Stephen Foster’s (1826-64) song “Hard times come again no more”.

The hard times have come again, and will be with us for many a long year.

1.Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh Hard times come again no more.

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more
2. While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door;
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh hard times come again no more.


3. There's a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away,
With a worn heart whose better days are o'er:
Though her voice would be merry, 'tis sighing all the day,
Oh hard times come again no more.


4. Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more.


Thursday, 1 October 2009

One of those days.

Today I had a roof over my head.

Pure water came forth from my faucets.

The hot water heater functioned well, as did the air conditioning. My car ran smoothly.

I enjoyed nutritious food.

Breakfast was a good pear smeared with peanut butter.

For lunch I had a lettuce, tomato and tuna salad.

Dinner consisted of cabbage, broccoli and onion, sautéed in a bit of olive oil and soy sauce, with a small amount of chicken.

Nothing and nobody annoyed or irritated me today.

I am as certain as I can be that I did not annoy or irritate anyone.

I met with the contractor who is renovating the lanai in my home, and we agreed on a contract. Work starts tomorrow!

I did a bit of gardening, read some history, walked the dog five times, made a fuss of both cats, and enjoyed a visit with my good friend Ben.

On a day such as today I know that I am among some of the most privileged people in the world (and there are nearly 7 billion of us).

Just for today I have a sense of gratitude – “to G-d, to life, or to the universe” – whatever we call it.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

From a Pastor to a friend on her 90th birthday

Those of us who are priests, parsons and pastors are privileged to encounter many wonderful people.

They are the ones who teach we priests, parsons and pastors more than we could teach a whole congregation.

One of those great and wonderful parishioners recently celebrated her 90th birthday.

Here is what I wrote her

Dear J.....

"L... very kindly sent me an invitation to the celebration of your birthday. As it happened I was in Maine on that day, and I had every intention to call you at your party.

I failed in that good intention. So now I send you these words".

"It is not particularly wonderful to live for ninety years. Any fool can do that!

But what is so utterly splendid is the way in which you have lived those years.

You have been a child, a sister, a teacher, and an encourager of many.

You have been a devoted disciple of Jesus, and have lived out that discipleship in the church and in the world.

You have made your various homes to be centres of hospitality – with good food, much laughter, and engaging conversations.

You have enabled the greatest of beauty to shine out in some many people who did not know of their beauty until you opened their eyes.

You have been a wise counselor to many students, friends, and otherwise dull Priests!

You have been ahead of your time in the ways in which you have called our world to justice and peace.

You have been Christ to others.

So, I salute you a little bit for living for ninety years. That's the easy part.

But I send a verbal Twenty One Gun Salute for who you have been in those years, and will be in the years to come. That's where it gets tough.

Who you have been eclipses what you have done!



Tuesday, 29 September 2009

To make you giggle

I hope that, in the midst of all the crap of daily life, you will be able to download this video, and giggle for a bit.

Monday, 28 September 2009

What is God like?

1. After the Sunday Eucharist at St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key, FL on 20th September, a normally very sensible woman approached me. (She and I also work together at Resurrection House.)

She said “Michael, if God is not a woman, then he looks just like you”.

I am not sure if that is good news for me or bad news for God!

2. Regular readers will know that I have two cats, Ada and Adelaide. I resist the parental temptation to tell lies, and I confess that Ada is my favourite.

(Many parents have a favourite child, but they deny it with great passion).

(But I do treat the cats equally well).

3. I am planning to have my screened-in porch re-painted, and to have the faded old carpet replaced with ceramic tile. Business in this recession is so bad that I am being bombarded with bids from prospective contractors. I want to hire them all, since they seem to be such fine people, desperate for work in these tough days.

4. When I talk with strangers by ‘phone, they almost always ask if I am Irish. (Americans are not skilled in the business of distinguishing accents).

I am not Irish, but I would be if I could be.


5. GOD looks like a fairly short 65 years old man, with fading red hair, and a pot-belly.

GOD is an aging Irish Episcopalian Priest.

GOD has favourites.


6. So there you have it.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Let's hear it for..

1...... President Barack Obama who is handling the mess created by eight years of “Dubya and the neo-cons” with great skill and patience. We voted for change, and we are getting it. It’s not as dynamic as some of us on the left would wish, but it is dramatic in its change of tone and attitude. George W Bush promised a more humble foreign policy but could or would not deliver on that promise, since he is an inveterate con-artist. President Barack Obama is moving us towards a more humble stance and for that we should be grateful. (And let’s keep our fingers crossed that the President makes wise decisions re Afghanistan ( i.e. in my opinion – “pay off the war lords and get the hell out of that country”)

2....... Cabbage. It’s one of the most under respected vegetables. Yet it is cheap, and very nutritious. Do not boil the hell out of it as your ancestors did. Try stir frying it with a wee bit of Soy sauce, or Worcestershire sauce for zest.

3....... Good red wine. Like cabbage it is good for our health. And there are some excellent and inexpensive Chilean varieties.

4......Trout. I had not eaten trout for this and so many years, but it was my choice at a restaurant lunch yesterday. I enjoyed rainbow trout, boned and grilled, and was delighted to be in touch with an old favourite.

5..... Cool family members and friends.

6..... People who are not a bit like us, and who encourage us to enlarge our boundaries.