Saturday, 13 August 2011

Fish Tacos and Somalia

So, late yesterday I had a yen for fish tacos.

I had about ¼ lb of cod in my fridge.  I also had a half used jar of hot salsa.

In my cupboard were some hard taco shells, and a can of black beans (oh how I like black beans!).

All I needed to purchase was an 8oz tub of low fat sour cream.

So for my dinner tonight I had two taco shells, stuffed with fish, black beans, salsa and sour cream.

It was a simple meal indeed, with simple ingredients. And it was delicious.

My simple dinner tonight gave me more nutrition than most people in Somalia get in a week.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Three funerals and a retired Priest

I will officiate at a funeral on Saturday 13th August 2011.  This will be my third funeral in four weeks.  I have not been in this particular ministerial role since 2006.

Of course it’s all connected with my Rector’s retirement, and the vacation of my beloved Andrea Taylor, the assistant Rector at St. B’s on Siesta Key, SRQ, FL.  I am stepping up to the plate in the absence of the “regular” St. B’s staff.

The first funeral was for a woman who was a faithful and prayerful member of the parish. I knew her and respected her.

Next was a funeral for a lovely woman who wasn’t exactly connected with the parish.  But I had known her for so many years, dating back to my Pittsfield MA days.  Back then I had visited her dying husband at the Berkshire Medical Centre in Pittsfield.  When he passed I participated in his funeral at the Reformed Church in Chatham, N.Y. alongside that Church’s Pastor and a Roman Catholic Priest.

The woman’s name was Diane, and I reconnected with her when she moved to Englewood FL and I moved to Sarasota FL.

On Saturday I will officiate at a funeral for a woman I’d never met. She died of heart failure at the young age of 68 years. She was loosely connected with St. B’s. Since her death I have spent some time with one of her two sons.  I will do my best to honour his Mum at the service tomorrow.  Mostly I will try to speak of the good news (gospel) which Christians know in Jesus Christ.

1.   I have officiated at countless funerals for women and men who’d had no Church affiliation.

2.   I have officiated at countless funerals for men and women whom I’d never met.

It never gets to be easy.  But I am glad to wear the banner of an “inclusive priest” who will offer prayers for any and all who have died.  

I rejoice that G-d has called me to be an Anglican Minister and not a Roman Catholic "Priest", or  Fundamentalist Pastor.


Thursday, 11 August 2011

A tale of two car owners

1.   I was down at Sarasota’s fabulous Selby Library on Monday.  There is nothing new about that.  I am there once or twice a week to return and to borrow books.

As I left the library I encountered a 50 something woman who’d also used been there.  She had an old model and beat up Ford Taurus.  It would not start. We tried to get a charge with jumper cables from my battery to hers. It did not help.

I am no mechanic, but I sussed that either her car battery was totally dead, or that her starter motor was caput.

It was a very hot day.  I was anxious to get back into my air conditioned care, and to drive home.  Part of me thought that I should drive her to a nearby “Goodyear” service station and buy her a new battery.  The other part of me thought that even a new battery would not help and that her beat up old Ford was beyond help.  I left her, uttering platitudinous good wishes.


2.   I set out for the hospital today to visit a St. Boniface parishioner. On Beneva Road I heard a “thump, thump, thump” which made me think that the driver’s side rear tyre on my car was falling apart. 

I stopped and looked at the tyre.  I saw that a flat headed 1 ¾” screw, complete with a washer was lodged in the tyre tread, and most likely had pierced the tyre.  As “luck had it” I was about 300 yards from one of those generic auto repair franchises.

In I drove. It was a quiet day at this franchise.  20 minutes later (and 23 dollars lighter) I drove away with a repaired tyre. I went to the hospital (only to find that the parishioner had been moved to a nameless nursing home!).

$23 was a wee blip in the budget of this very moderately income retiree. I’d rather not have spent it on a tyre repair, but the money was in my account and my debit card worked.

But I wonder about the woman outside the library.  Maybe she did not have the $50/75/100 or more which would be needed to fix up her car.  And maybe without a car she would no longer be able to work.

Who the hell knows her real situation? 


But I know that the “working poor” have to stretch every dollar, and that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats truly care. Not do they have constructive solutions which could be beneficial to our many low income “working poor”.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

What's in a name - the Scotts and Ricks of the Tea Party.

This will not mean much to readers outside of the U.S.A.

The Republican/Tea Party Governor of Wisconsin is Scott Walker.

The Massachusetts Republican/Tea Party Senator is Scott Brown.

The Republican/Tea Party Governor of Florida is Rick Scott.

The Republican/Tea Party Governor of Texas is Rick Perry.

I’m just saying.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

I worry about Sam

I worry for my nephew Sam.  He is a splendid 15 year old, the son of my brother Martyn and my sister-in-law Wendy.

Sam was here with his Dad in late May/early June.   We enjoyed a fabulous vacation together.

But I worry about him.  I worry because the chances are that he will find it next to impossible to find a job when he graduates high school in Bristol, England.  Jobs are scarce in so many lands, not least in the U.K.

The unrest in Egypt, in Syria, in Libya is rooted in lack of jobs.

The unrest in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Great Britain is rooted in the lack of jobs.

1. We have been sold a bill of goods in the idea that national economies can grow and grow to provide enough for all.  It ain’t so.

2. We have been sold a bill of good in the idea that the planet’s resources are inexhaustible.  It ain’t so.

3. We have been sold a bill of goods in the mystical belief that wealth will trickle down from the enormously rich 1% to the desperately poor 30/40/50 %. It ain’t so.

4. We are unable to acknowledge the ghastly failures of unregulated and undisciplined capitalism.

5. We have abandoned any concept of a social compact which might benefit both rich and poor (the “we” includes the oligarchs of the “phoney Communist” Republic of China.)

6. We are unable to grasp the simple and obvious fact that our planet has too many people.  Popes, Mullahs, and Fundamentalist Christians continue to encourage irresponsible breeding.

7. We have lost any idea of the “common good” in favour of Darwinian economics, mutated from Darwin’s science to mean the survival of the richest.

I write this against the background of civil unrest in Near and Middle Eastern lands; in India and China; in Greece and Spain, and in my beloved homeland of Great Britain.

The riots, violence, pillaging and destruction in Great Britain is doubtless to be deplored.  There is a mindless nihilism at work.

But the rioting (ghastly as it is, and I do not defend it) must be viewed in the light of the hopelessness which is the experience and daily lot of the world’s under classes.  (If you are hopeless, law and order will seem to be a luxury).

And I wonder why we are not similarly outraged about the ways in which multi-national corporations (aided and abetted by governments, the IMF, the World Bank etc)  have raided and pillaged our common wealth in order to increase private wealth.

So I worry about Sam and his future. How in the world will he be able to make his way in the face of the  governmental and business oppression of  “ordinary people”?  Will he face a future of hopelessness which will lead him to poverty and/or nihilism?

Monday, 8 August 2011

Elizabeth Kaeton

Elizabeth Kaeton is a Priest in the Episcopal Church.  She is a friend and colleague.  Here is her blog ( Telling Secrets ) entry from 5th August 2011. It is published here with her permission.

It's my own damn fault.

I wish I could say that I hurt my back while lifting a crying child or pulling someone out of a burning building.

No. I hurt my back while sitting in a beach chair for three days.  One of our daughters was visiting.  I was reading a book. A good book. A really good book.

Does that ascribe at least a modicum of virtue to my pain?

Probably not.

It is better today. At least I'm not walking like "Pretzel Woman" today, and the pain is lessening - it's more like an persistent strong ache.

Patience has never really been my strong suit.

I'm seeing a chiropractor regularly. I'm having daily mild adjustments, mild vibration, light and electro-stimulation and hydroculator packs. Years ago, I bought a home electro-stimulation unit and have been using that at home to augment the therapy. I'm also using light, mild vibration and heat therapy at home.

Oh, and Naproxen for the pain. Which helps. Some.

Actually, the problem is less with my back and more with my mood. Which has been foul. I can't do the things I want to do. Which is annoying. And, frustrating. Hence, the foul mood.

It's my pride. I know it is. I'm so damn independent and used to doing the things I like when I want and usually at a rate that's faster than the average bear.

Yesterday, I went to the market because I needed some groceries. But first, I ran a few errands - bank, post office, like that. By the time I finished and was in the check out line, I was walking like Pretzel Woman again.

The clerk took one look at me and asked, "Ma'am, would you like some help getting your groceries into the car?"

I got all girly-burbly and manage to chock out, "Oh, yes. Please. Thank you so much."

The next thing I knew, he was picking up the phone and calling someone. All of a sudden, a young man named Charles was packing my bags into boxes, saying, "If you give me your address, I'll deliver this to your home five minutes after you get there."

I totally embarrassed myself and started crying, saying, "Oh, no, no, no. You don't have to do that."

"Yes, Ma'am. I know I don't have to. There's no charge," he assured. "It's a service we provide for our customers who have mobility issues."

Mobility issues. Suddenly, I have mobility issues. Who knew?

"Well, it's just temporary," I said. "I'll be fine by Saturday or Sunday. Really. I just sat for too long in my beach chair and pulled a muscle. I was reading a book and I lost track of time. I'm really going to be fine. Really," I said, as I dabbed a tissue at my eyes.

And, I will.

But, this has been humbling.

Charles arrived at my home almost exactly five minutes after I arrived, just as he promised. He brought the boxes into my house, helping to put things into the refrigerator and freezer and into the pantry, closely following my directions.

When he finished, I pulled out a $5 bill to give him a tip. He looked horrified. "Oh, no, no, no, Ma'am," he said. I can't take that. That's way too much.

"Look," I said, "If you take this $5 I promise I won't cry. If you don't, well, I'll probably get absolutely hysterical and it won't be pretty."

He smiled and said, "You remind me of my grandmother, only you're a lot younger but just as stubborn. And, funnier."

"Thank you, I think," I said as I handed him the $5 bill.

He looked down at his feet and then looked at me and said, "Your car has a placard on the dash that says, 'Episcopal Clergy'. Is that you?"

"Yes, sir," I said. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, I'll make you a deal," he said. "If you say a prayer with me, I'll take your $5."

"That's got to be the best deal I've had in a long time," I said. "Sure, let's pray."

"Wait," he said, "I really need prayers for my dad. He lost his job six months ago and hasn't been able to get a job. I told him that I would take the year off to work to help the family, but he won't hear of it. I'm working this summer to help with my college tuition instead of taking summer courses, which really embarrasses him. He's a very proud man. He really needs our prayers."

"I think I know a little bit about pride," I said, "And embarrassment. So, this one will come from the heart."

We held hands and prayed. He thanked me and gave me a big hug before he left.

I'm not sure, but I suspect that prayer for Charles' dad probably did more to heal my aching back than heat or electro-stim or vibration or Naproxen.

I suspect that prayer that comes from a humble and contrite heart is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving that rises like incense before God.

Maybe that's why I'm doing a bit better today. That, and I'm doing my reading in a proper chair and not a beach chair. My mood is even better today. I know I'll be back to my old self by Sunday or Monday.

Until then, though, I plan to continue to walk a bit more humbly with God.

It's not only good for my soul. Turns out, it's also good for my back.

Oh, and of your kindness and mercy, please pray for Charles and his dad.

It's not the economy that's breaking the back of this country. It's the unemployment.

Now, there's a real 'mobility issue' for you, right there.