Saturday, 6 February 2010

"A tale of two persons" (2)

G. is 25 years old. He is a volunteer at R-s H-use. He asked me the other day “do you think that I will ever mature?”

We talked a bit about thinking through the consequences of proposed actions; about planning ahead; about learning how to budget and save; about choosing friends with care.

G’s background is rugged. Neither parent was willing or able to offer adequate nurture or guidance. He was sexually abused at about age 14 by a man who threatened to kill him if he ever told. His then un-diagnosed illness of manic depression kicked in soon after. He enlisted in the Navy and had a major breakdown at boot camp. Let go by the Navy, he drifted into drug use.

Today he is clean and sober. He receives social security disability payments and gets food stamps. He lives alone in a subsidised apartment complex. He wants to get a job, but given the job market that’s highly unlikely. Most days he is bored out of his mind.

G. is a charmer. He knows how to present himself well and so is instantly likeable. He does not understand boundaries in human relationships, so he frequently makes unreasonable demands on those who befriend him. (I’ve had to instruct him NEVER to call me after 9:00 p.m. when he needs attention. or a ride home because he has missed the last ‘bus.)

His finances are in chaos because money burns a hole in his pocket, and he’s not savvy enough to know that it’s more important to pay the rent than, for instance to get a new mobile phone. He is in hock to several of his friends to the tune of about $1,000. I have declined to lend him money, but I have helped him to draw up a budget which would get him out of his financial hole in about three months. Sadly he is not intellectually or emotionally equipped to stick to a budget.

Back to his question - “do you think that I will ever mature?” He listened carefully as I went over a road map to maturity. Then I added “you know G., some people never mature”.

Of course I was expressing my own fear for him. He would need a ton of outside support over a long time, simply to get half-way there. I can offer but a wee bit of that support, but it will not be enough for his enormous needs.

Some people never mature. I suspect that G. will be one of them.

Friday, 5 February 2010

"A tale of two persons" (1)

B. had washed up at Resu-rection H-use, S-rasota, FL as another homeless veteran, battling a “demon” of addiction. That’s where I got to know him.

His recovery was so profound that the House employed him as a gopher, dogsbody, pinch-hitter et al. He was always prompt, cheerful and hard working. We hit it off right away, and would hang together and smoke up a storm on our breaks.

It was clear that he adored his dad, passed from this life, but formerly a career man in the U.S.A.F. That explains why B. had been born in Morocco and why he had been educated in private schools.

Somewhere along the line B. got married and, with his wife, had two children. But that was “way back then”. B. had not seen his children in many a day.

He never told me what had happened, but it was more than clear that his addiction (booze, drugs, sex) had led to a deep alienation from his children.

About a year ago B. was diagnosed as having a mean cancer. His well-learned and unrealistic optimism about all of life led him to be sure that he would beat the odds and have a good recovery.

Some R-s H-use volunteers worked hard to trace B’s children, and his brother. He got to visit with them and had a brief but happy reunion. It was very brief. “Something” again went sour with him and his family members.

He drifted away from R-s H-use. He had a girl friend. He and she fought like cats and dogs. He left her and moved in with girl-friend #2. He was prescribed a narcotic pain killer which he sold on the streets.

He was “found out” in this misdemeanor and the Oncologist refused to prescribe any more. Her source of money being ended, girl friend #2 threw him out, and he arrived at the door-step of girl friend #1, in terrible pain. She took him in.

His physical condition and pain were so terrible that he was moved to a residential hospice where within day he died.

We gathered today to scatter B’s ashes in the sea. We were eight folks (staff and volunteers) from R-s H-use and five of B’s pals. Girl-friend # 1 had made all the plans.

I wore my clerical haberdashery in order to honour B, and I read the burial prayers from the Book of Common Prayer. We burned sage to honour B’s Native –American heritage (he was 50% Choctaw with the Indian name “Two Feathers”.)

As I cast B’s remains into the sea I reminded us that “Heaven is not a reward for those who are good. It is a gift for those who are loved.”

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Nik Wallenda, Lee Karen Stow, and Rick Floyd. A Trifecta - today, yesterday and the other day

In Sarasota today.

(I’ll see Nik Wallenda at Circus Sarasota -  an old fashioned non-showbiz circus -  on Feb 21st 2010.)     

At St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key, Sarasota, FL last night.

Lee Stow is from Kingston upon Hull (a.k.a. Hull), Yorkshire, U.K.   She is working to empower the women of Sierra Leone (a country that is poorer than even Haiti) with photography.

See these gorgeous women in “The Women of Sierra Leone”.  Also check out “Kroo Bay” to see the ghastly Shanty Town in which some of the women live.

A couple of the Sierra Leone women have exhibited their work in the U.K.    You will see one slide of a woman who was out of doors when it snowed in Yorhshire-  she had never before seen snow! Another slide shows a Sierra Leonean woman trying on a wedding gown in Hull.  She was shocked when she was told its price.

Do a Google search on Lee Karen Stow to find out more about her work.

In  Pittsfield MA, just the other day.

My former colleague, Rick Floyd shares his recipe for the best pot-roast ever!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

KIPPERS God's gift enhanced by human skill.

My good pal Ben, though American born, has spent many a month in the United Kingdom.  There he learned to enjoy “kippers” (cold smoked herring).  Ben has often lamented that it is impossible to purchase a good kipper in these United States.

True enough our local British Food stores (yes there are two in SRQ) can provide kippers, but the ones they sell are miserable little fillets, shrink wrapped with butter, and frozen. 

  To eat them is like hearing your great-uncle singing an opera aria whilst Placido Domingo is in concert at a local concert hall.  “Close, but no cigar” as we would say in the U.S.A.

I’ve been determined to get some real kippers for Ben (and me!) to celebrate his complete recovery after breaking two bones in his ankle.

Thanks to the web I was able to find an American purveyor of genuine British kippers.  I ordered a small supply with instructions that it should be delivered to Ben this a.m.  (I’d said not a word to Ben!)  Unfrozen, they were to be Fed-exed overnight. (The mailing charge was higher than the cost of the kippers!)

The kippers arrived today as ordered, and gave Ben a delightful surprise.  Of course he invited me to share them at lunch today.

“Good Lord above!”  Ben and I feasted on whole (Scottish smoked) kippers, with the traditional poached egg, and good crusty bread. We savoured each bite.

Ben was left with two whole kippers and he says that he will eat them quarter by quarter over the next eight days!

Never let it be said that Britain offers no gustatory delights!

I bought the kippers from

(Use the search option to find and order kippers)

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Who are the "saints" ? (3) Roman Catholic nonsense.

The English word “saint” is derived from a Latin word “sanctus” – meaning “holy”.

Thus, when we refer to the “saints”, we are speaking of the “holy ones”. In turn, to be “holy” means to be “set apart” for the glory and the purposes of God.

Within the New Testament (written in Greek, not Latin), the word which gets to be translated as “saint” is the Greek word “hagios”, and it is practically synonymous with our English word “christian”.

In other words, a biblical term for “christian” is the word “saint”. The “saints” (i.e. the christians) are those who have been “set apart” by the death and resurrection of Jesus, through baptism in water and in the holy spirit, to be the agents of God’s saving power in the world.

Those of us who are on the reformed, or protestant wing of Christianity insist that the “saints” are all the people of God.

We therefore resist the roman catholic system (called canonization) by which the Pope can declare that certain persons are “saints”.

We resist it for two reasons.

FIRST we believe that God alone has the prerogative to determine who are the “saints”, i.e. those humans who are called by God to work with her/him for the healing of the world.

SECOND the roman catholic system asserts a dangerous distinction between christians - that is between those who have “made it” (the roman catholic saints) and those who may or may not “make it” (all the other baptized christians).

That false distinction is far from the wisdom of Jesus, who teaches that we are called to be “brothers and sisters”, or to be “friends”.
Please do two things when you next hear that the Roman Pope is “canonizing” this or that person:

1. Be sad for the hubris of the Roman Church.
2. Sigh, or giggle at the preposterous notion that the “bishop of Rome” is able to make any saints.