Monday, 31 December 2012

A dream//2012 -2013/ Hoppin' John

1. I was wakened at about 3:30 a.m. today (Dec 31st 2012) by the sound of a moped just outside my bedroom.  I thought “what the heck”.

As I emerged into consciousness I realised that there was no moped.  What I had heard (and what had awakened me) was the sound of one of my long and drawn out snores. Pity my roommates when I go to Vietnam.

2. The internet is not perfect.  I know this because I’ve had problems when trying to log on to my e-mail account at  My user name and password works well on my desktop, but they are always rejected on my tablet.

This afternoon I trundled off to the local Comcast office to try to resolve the problem.  That office was mobbed. Folks all around me were grumbling on account of the long waits. I decided to be patient on the grounds of “fake it until you make it”.  That “faking it” worked well: so I was in a good frame of mood when my number was called after a one hour wait.

My clerk was Phyllis. She listened to my story, and then told me that the problem could not be resolved at that office, but that I needed to deal with it by ‘phone.

Then Phyllis went beyond the call of duty, and wrote out a note with the ‘phone number I should call, and the options I should choose when I get through to that “press 1/press 2 etc” menu.

“Comcast” is in the communications business, but their own communications are dismal -  unless we encounter an employee such as Phyllis.

I made certain to shake her hand and thank her before I left the office.

3. As I write (Dec 31st at 6:45 p.m.) it is still 2012 in the USA. Places east have already entered 2013.

Even though the passage from one year to another is a bit arbitrary (after all, there are other “New Years” (in Judaism, Islam and other religions and cultures) we in the western/christian world love to mark this passage of time in our end of year celebrations, even as we know that January 1st is nothing more than the day after December 31st,

“Marking the passage of time” is the way in which we all try to come to terms with our mortality - as well we should.

I declined an invitation to a New Years Eve party, mostly because it will start at 9:00 p.m. – at least half an hour after my bedtime!.

4. But I will host a January 1st 2013 lunch for my friends Jack and Donna Chrisman, and our mutual friend Muriel.

I will of course serve “Hoppin John”  - the traditional Jan 1st meal in the USA south.  If you are unfamiliar with “Hoppin John”  a Google search will  set you straight.

5. Feliz año Nuevo.  Feliz Ano Novo. Bonne année. Chúc mừng năm mới. Glückliches neues Jahr. Head uut aastat,  Ευτυχισμένος ο καινούριος χρόνος

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Our big sister - Mum, Maureen, or Auntie Morning.

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a big sister.  That’s because she is seven years older than I.  By the time I began to form memories I was 5 years old, and she was 12.

When I was five I started school at Greenbank Infants School in Bristol, U.K.  I cried a lot on that first day.

The family legend is that I cried until the first “playtime” (recess) in the school playground (school yard) that morning.

The legend goes on to say that I re-entered the classroom and announced “I am not going to cry anymore because I saw my sister”.

That sister was my big sister Maureen.  Her “big girls” school started a week later, so she was able to lurk near my school-yard for that first mid-morning “playtime”.

I think that I remember that morning, but it’s more than likely that I remember what was told to me later.

However I recall that story is un-important.

What is important is that I have a fabulous “big sister”.

Her Christian names are Maureen Joy.

It is alleged that she was named Maureen because my dad had a fondness for all things Irish (“Maureen” being an “Irish” name).

What is true is that our next door neighbours Mr and Mrs Charlton said that her middle name should be “Joy”, for they asserted that she would always be a joy to my Mum and Dad.

They were correct

 My big sister Maureen has always been a source of joy. She is a fabulous woman.

She and I became fast friends back in 1966.  I had my very first car and was working at the Westminster Bank on the Wells Road in Knowle, Bristol.  She was working at the M.A.C. (Metal Agencies Company) on Winterstoke Rd in the Ashton district of Bristol.

I would drive her to work, and in those drives we would enjoy long and truthful conversations.

It was at the M.A.C. that she met the love of her life Bernard Theobald.  They married, and Maureen adopted the two children of his first (tragic) marriage, Nick and Louise.

But we could never refer to Nick and Louise as her adopted children. For they adore her, and they know that she is their darling Mum (and they are my nephew and niece without a doubt).

Maureen and Bern were blessed with two more children, my nieces Emma and Anne.

Nick, Louise, Emma and Ann have, with their spouses, birthed six grand-children for Maureen and Bern
(I was privileged to assist at the weddings of my nephew Nick to his beloved Lesley, and of my niece Anne to her darling spouse Stuart).

I had a lovely conversation with my fabulous “big sister” on Christmas Eve 2012.   She was as happy as a clam as she anticipated a Christmas Day with her husband Bern, her four children and their partners, and with her six grand-children.

As our conversation drew to an end Maureen said “I love you very much”.

That brought tears to my eyes.  How wonderful to have a sister who loves me very much.  The feeling is mutual.

Yesterday, Dec 29th 2012 my equally beloved brother Martyn and his wife Wendy hosted a party in Bristol, U.K. for my family members. He wrote this of our sister Maureen and her husband Bern.

” It was truly great to see Maureen & Bern; they were the guests of honour in all our eyes. Maureen has such love to share; there was almost a queue of us waiting to sit a talk with her. I am especially delighted that Sam & Laura (Wendy and Martyn’s children) love her as much as we do.

Some fifteen years ago Maureen and my Mum visited me in Pittsfield, MA together with Martyn, Wendy, Laura, and Sam (then a babe in arms).

Young Laura shared a make-shift bedroom in my den with her Auntie Maureen.

This was a wonderful and joyous adventure for Laura.

She emerged one morning and spoke of “Auntie Morning”.

Laura unwittingly spoke the truth.

Our dear sister Maureen gives us the hope and joy of every morning!

Both Martyn and I get all teared up with deep love as we thank God for our wonderful big sister.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

End of year musings

1. Yesterday (Dec 28th 2012) I was a guest at an “end of the year” party, hosted by my neighbours Pat Cosgrove and Bill Byers.

Pat and Bill host this party every year, and they do it so well. They provide good food and they invite thirty or more guests.

It is always such a relaxed event.

So I “kicked back”, and enjoyed being with some of my dear Florida friends (Bob Lewis, Ben Morse, Kay Dohoney and Barbara Dunne) and with other good folks (Tom, Tony, Alice, Irene) who I see just about three times each year, and also with another Tom (a friend from Pittsfield days who visits SRQ about three times each year).

2. Penne was looking very sad this morning.

3. My trip to Vietnam (at the end of January 2013) will include a modest amount of trekking.  I did not want to purchase expensive heavy trekking boots, so I bought these “Sonoma” walking shoes at “Kohls”..

They were reduced in price from $78 to $38.  I think that they will be more than adequate for my treks, and I am already using them in order to “break them in”.

4. When I mention my impending trip to my friends I get varying reactions:

(a) There are those who roll their eyes as if I were crazy.
(b) There are others who ask “why Vietnam?” My response is “because it is there”.
(c) My very best friends say “this will be a great adventure and I/we are so happy for you”.

5. In truth I want to have a few more adventures whilst my spirit and flesh are willing and able.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

My travelling life - to each of the major continents.

I was born in Bristol, U.K in 1944.

The U.K. is geographically a part of Europe, but you’d never know it!  

For instance:

Do you remember the alleged London Times headline  from  the 1930’s Fog in the English Channel – Continent Isolated”?  That was the British spirit. .

My first visit to Continental Europe was in about 1970. It was to the lovely little town of Oberstdorf in the Bavarian Alps.

That was the prelude to many more European trips:-  to France, Austria, Italy, Germany , Belgium. Holland, Greece, European Turkey etc.

In 1973 I spent two good weeks on the Continent of Africa, in Kenya and Tanzania, (with a 24 stay in Egypt).

In 1975 I visited the North American Continent, and made it my home (in the USA) in 1976. My North American visits have also included Canada and Mexico.

Later on I visited  the Caribbean (Aruba, and the Bahamas), and Central America (Honduras).

I took a trip to Lebanon – geographically in Asia, but emotionally in the Near East.

In 2010 I was in the South American Continent- in Ecuador.

2011 saw me in the continent of Australia.
What a life!—Europe, the Near East, North America, Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Australia.
But Lebanon hardly felt Asian.

So in 2013 I will take a trip to Vietnam – as Asian as it gets.
Thus I will have been privileged to visit each of the major continents: Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, North America, South America.

Antarctic must wait for its turn!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas Day 2012

And lo I went to St. Boniface Church on Christmas Day for the 10:00 a.m. service.

I drove there with my SRQ friend Bob Lewis (a retired Episcopal Priest from Hudson, N.Y).

Behold we encountered Tom Dillon.  Tom was a school teacher in Pittsfield, M A.  His heritage is Roman Catholic, but he frequently attended St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Pittsfield during my duration there.

 Tom inherited a condo in Bradenton FL. It is always a pleasure to see him when he comes south from Massachusetts.

It came to pass that another Tom was at Church. He is a splendid semi-retired Roman Catholic Priest who in these days mostly worships in the Episcopal Church.

Tom, Tom, Bob and JMP sat in church  together for the Christmas Day Eucharist.

Two Episcopal Priests – a Roman Catholic Priest – a Roman Catholic educator.  Damn – that’s queer ecumenicism!

The St. Boniface organists being exhausted after three services on Sunday 23rd Dec 2012, and three more on Christmas Eve wisely stayed at home.

The parish found some dollars to employ a guest organist – one Roger Roszell. “By heavens” he was good.

Retired “Priest Associate” Charles Kiblinger presided and preached.  His sermon was excellent even (though his rapid fire delivery is taxing on the ears).

St. Boniface, SRQ "Altar" Dec 2012


In due time on Christmas Day I made my way to the

There I enjoyed a “Christmas Dinner”.

1. Salad

2. Turkey:-  with gravy, green beans, mashed sweet potato, mashed spuds, cranberry etc

3. Key Lime Pie

The food was good, though not great.

The company was excellent.

I enjoyed this dinner with:

 (a) Fred Emrich (a priest now retired) who was my colleague when we served in the Diocese of Western Mass.  Fred was in Greenfield MA.  when I was in Pittsfield MA.

(b)  Diana Clee (Fred’s second wife).  Diana was born of British parents in India. When she was 7 years old they sent her off to England to be educated in a miserable Boarding School for girls.

After school she  married an American man - but was widowed at an early age.

Diana then carved out two careers.  First as a “stewardess” on the late lamented “Pan-Am Airlines”:  then as a very successful Realtor in Greenwich CT.

(c) Joining us was Lee Ysidro.  She was born in Trinidad of Venezuelan parents.

She (1) segued into a career on the stage in NYC. (2) became a stewardess with Pan-Am where she met Diana (3) Married  an Egyptian man who she met in Tunisia (and he died young) (4) retired to SRQ where she reconnected with Diana.

 I live in a small world. It is a world which includes friends from far and near.  

That small world is open to us all.  

I love it!
Lee and jmp

Diana and Lee

Fred and Diana


It was a quiet and lovely 2012 Christmas Day, except that my pooch Penne got no more than a lump of coal from Father Christmas.

For on Christmas Eve when my back was turned she seized a hunk of Morbier cheese from a coffee table at Ben's home.

This was exceptional.  Penne has never before stolen "people food". 

Upon being chastised Penne dropped the cheese.

But the damage was done!

1. The remnant of that bit of cheese had to be "binned" ( as they say in the U.K).

2. Penne's tummy was all upset on Christmas Day on account of the wee bit of cheese she had eaten.

3. By now she is  "ransomed, healed, restored and forgiven"!

Monday, 24 December 2012

The "history of "O Holy Night" , and Merry Christmas everyone.

(If you go to You Tube  and  search for  "O Holy Night/Nat King Cole"  you will encounter  a wondrous version  of the song, and rejoice in Nat King Cole's  and in  his fabulous diction).

There is a story behind this song. I reproduce it here.

N.B Thie follwoing is not my writing.  I "lifted it" from the WWW

Stories Behind the Music: "O Holy Night"

"O Holy Night" remains one of the world's most beloved Christmas carols, with uplifting lyrics and melody.

The lyrics were written by Placide Cappeau (1808-1877), a resident of Roquemaure, France (located a few miles north of the historic city of Avignon). Cappeau was a wine merchant and mayor of the town, as well as an occasional writer of poetry.

 Known more for his poetry than his church attendance, it probably shocked Cappeau when his parish priest, shortly before Cappeau embarked on a business trip, asked him to pen a poem for Christmas mass.

In a dusty coach traveling down a bumpy road to France's capital city, Cappeau considered the priest's request. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, Cappeau imagined witnessing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Thoughts of being present on the blessed night inspired him. By the time he arrived in Paris, "Cantique de Noel" had been completed.

Moved by his own work, Cappeau decided that his "Cantique de Noel" was not just a poem, but a song in need of a master musician's hand. Not musically inclined himself, the poet turned to one of his friends, Adolphe Charles Adams, for help, when he arrived in Paris.

Adams was an acquaintance of Monsieur and Madame Laurey, who were friends of Cappeau. The son of a well-known classical musician, Adams had studied in the Paris conservatoire. Adams was at the peak of his career, having written his masterpiece, Giselle, only a few years before, in 1841. He was also the composer of over eighty operatic stage works. His talent and fame brought requests to write works for orchestras and ballets all over the world.

Yet the lyrics that his friend Cappeau gave him must have challenged the composer in a fashion unlike anything he received from London, Berlin, or St. Petersburg.

As a man of Jewish ancestry, for Adams, the words of "Cantique de Noel" represented a day he didn't celebrate and a man he did not view as the son of God. Nevertheless, Adams quickly went to work, attempting to marry an original score to Cappeau's beautiful words. Adams' finished work pleased both poet and priest. The song was performed just three weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, 1847, in Roquemaure.

Initially, "Cantique de Noel" was wholeheartedly accepted by the church in France and the song quickly found its way into various Catholic Christmas services. However, the song's popularity declined after its initial acceptance, based on the reputations of the lyricist and composer. Late in his life, Cappeau left the church and became an active part of the socialist movement. He was described as a social radical, a freethinker, a socialist, and a non-Christian.

Church leaders also discovered that Adams was a Jew, and the song--which had quickly grown to be one of the most beloved Christmas songs in France--was suddenly and uniformly denounced by the Church. The heads of the French Catholic church of the time deemed "Cantique de Noel" as unfit for church services because of its lack of musical taste and "total absence of the spirit of religion." Yet even as the church tried to bury the Christmas song, the French people continued to sing it.

Fortunately, more rational perspectives have prevailed. By 1855, the carol had been published in London, and has been translated into many languages. The best known English translation is " O Holy Night" authored by John Sullivan Dwight (1813-1893), a Unitarian minister, an American music critic and journalist who made his home at the Transcendentalist community of Brook Farm, Massachusetts

. Dwight felt that this wonderful Christmas song needed to be introduced to America, and he saw something else in the song that moved him beyond the story of the birth of Christ. An ardent abolitionist, Dwight strongly identified with the lines of the third verse: "Truly he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name all oppression shall cease." The text supported Dwight's own view of slavery in the South.

Published in his magazine, Journal of Music, Dwight's English translation of "O Holy Night" quickly found favor in America, especially in the North during the Civil War. By coincidence, Christmas became a legal holiday in Massachusetts the same year as Dwight published his translation.

There is an unsubstantiated (but frequently repeated) story that this carol figured prominently on Christmas Eve, 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War. The story goes that, in the midst of fierce fighting between the armies of Germany and France, during the Franco-Prussian War, a French soldier suddenly jumped out of his muddy trench. Both sides stared at the seemingly crazed man. Boldly standing with no weapon in his hand or at his side, he lifted his eyes to the heavens and sang, "Minuit, Chretiens, c'est l'heure solennelle ou L'Homme Dieu descendit jusqu'a nous," the beginning of "Cantique de Noel." After completing all three verses, a German infantryman climbed out his hiding place and answered with, "Vom Himmel noch, da komm' ich her. Ich bring' euch gute neue Mar, Der guten Mar bring' ich so viel, Davon ich sing'n und sagen will," the beginning of Martin Luther's robust Christmas hymn, "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come." The story goes that the fighting stopped for the next twenty-four hours while the men on both sides observed a temporary peace in honor of Christmas day. Perhaps this story had a part in the French church once again embracing "Cantique de Noel" in holiday services.

Adams had been dead for many years and Cappeau and Dwight were old men when on Christmas Eve 1906, Reginald Fessenden, a 33-year-old university professor and former chief chemist for Thomas Edison, did something long thought impossible.

 Using a new type of generator, Fessenden spoke into a microphone and, for the first time in history, a man's voice was broadcast over the airwaves: "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed," he began in a clear, strong voice, hoping he was reaching across the distances he supposed he would.

Shocked radio operators on ships and astonished wireless owners at newspapers sat slack-jawed as their normal, coded impulses, heard over tiny speakers, were interrupted by a professor reading from the gospel of Luke. To the few who caught this broadcast, it must have seemed like a miracle, hearing a voice somehow transmitted to those far away. Some might have believed they were hearing the voice of an angel.

 Fessenden was probably unaware of the sensation he was causing on ships and in offices; he couldn't have known that men and women were rushing to their wireless units to catch this Christmas Eve miracle.

After finishing his recitation of the birth of Christ, Fessenden picked up his violin and played "O Holy Night," the first song ever sent through the air via radio waves. When the carol ended, Fessenden read another selection from the book of Luke: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will." The Christmas program was picked up as far south as Norfolk, Virginia; when the program was repeated on New Year's Eve, it was heard as far away as the West Indies.

Since that first rendition at a small Christmas mass in 1847, "O Holy Night" has been sung millions of times in churches in every corner of the world. And since the moment a handful of people first heard it played over the radio, the carol has gone on to become one of the entertainment industry's most recorded and played spiritual songs. This incredible work--requested by a forgotten parish priest, written by a poet who would later split from the church, given soaring music by a Jewish composer, and brought to Americans to serve as much as a tool to spotlight the sinful nature of slavery as tell the story of the birth of a Savior--has become one of the most beautiful, inspired pieces of music ever created. The lyrics are reprinted below.

O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt His worth
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder beams a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born!
O night divine! O night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here came the wise men from the Orient land

The King of Kings lay in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend
He knows our need
To our weakness no stranger
Behold your King! before the lowly bend!
Behold your King! before Him bend!

Truly he taught us to love one another 
His law is love and His gospel is peace 
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother 
And in His name all oppression shall cease

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus rise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord
Then ever, ever praise we
His pow'r and glory ever more proclaim
His pow'r and glory ever more proclaim

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Routine and Habit

 As is the case for many folks I am a creature of routine and habit.


My morning routine is almost unchangeable.

Out of bed by 5:00


Boot up computer.
Greet Penne and the cats – Penne gets half a biscuit and the cats each get a couple of small treats.

Make coffee.

Have first cigarette.

Pour coffee.

Check e-mail and Facebook
Except that this morning my computer would not connect with the internet. Woe was me.

I tried all the tricks of the trade without success.

I called Comcast.  Getting through to a real live person is a feat requiring enormous patience.  I was patient.

The real live person told me that there were no reported outages in my area.  She asked me to “hold on”.  I did so for twenty minutes, and then my store of patience “went down”.

So I hoved off to MacD's : “Tablet” in hand. $1.08 bought a medium sized coffee.  Within three minutes I was on line using the free wi-fi.  (Later I discovered that I could have saved $1.08 but connecting with Mickey D’s wi-fi from the parking lot, but the coffee was good!)

45 minutes later and back at home, my desk top had connected itself to the internet.  Go figure!  Was the cold weather to blame -  nah!

Here’s the rub.  My morning routine was disturbed, and I got to be so very grumpy.  Very grumpy indeed.  I was even a bit snarky with the pets. ‘Twas so silly of me.

Yet, with you, I have come to expect internet connection as a normal part of life.

And, with many of you, I do not do so well when my routine is upset.



I have been a habitual church attender for as many years as I can remember.  Of course it was all fairly easy during the thirty years when I was paid to be there!

But I haven’t “done” much Church since August. There were two Sundays in September when I was paid to be a supply priest in Englewood (before my second retirement), and one Sunday in December when I was with my friend in Scottsdale AZ.

It’s probably been good to get out of the unthinking “habit” of attending Church.

But these days I struggle to find a reason why I should attend.

Nothing seems to “draw” me there, and I do not miss it.

I have remembered all the sermons I delivered which gave various reasons why one should be part of a worshiping congregation, but these days I have become deaf to my own preaching.

The longer I have stayed away the harder it has become to return.

There is no over-riding reason or reasons why I have dropped out.  It’s just that it all seems a bit pointless, or maybe unsatisfying, or even un-challenging..

Maybe I’ll drop back in one of these days, but for now I have a greater sense of understanding about those parishioners in four congregations who simply “dropped out”

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Winter musings

1. It was (by S.W. Florida standards) quite chilly this morning (46 f,/7.7 c).  For my 6:30 a.m. walk with Penne I donned a top coat, scarf , and gloves.

46f in Massachusetts on December 22nd would have seemed to be almost balmy.  After six and a half years in Florida it feels cold!

Is it true that our blood “thins”, (that’s the lore), or is there an alternative explanation as to why differing temperatures change our bodily reactions?


2. The cooler weather has its upside.  I was able to walk five miles yesterday, and about four and a half miles today. Penne was so happy!


3. She has been so happy that she dragged me out for a walk at about 4:45 p.m. today.

There was a method in her madness. Somehow she knew that my neighbour, the recently widowed Sophie would also be out and about. She was correct,

So Penne encountered Sophie this afternoon, and  Sophie met Penne.

Mutual joy abounded.


4. It got better. Yesterday Penne and I came across Alison who was in the neighbourhood to visit with her parents for “the holidays”.  Alison was entranced with my entirely lovable dog.

Unbeknownst to me, Alison urged her mother to take a walk this afternoon, saying “maybe we’ll see that lovely dog again”.

The timing was right this afternoon. As we walked Penne countered Alison, and Alison met Penne.

 Mutual joy abounded.


5. O.K. –  So I boast!  But the truth is that my Penne (I adopted her from the Sarasota Humane Society 4 ½ years ago) is truly a fabulously people friendly dog.

I love her to bits, and both friends and strangers respond with joy to her friendliness.


6. Cooler weather calls for soups.

So today a made a mess of black bean soup.

Finely chopped sweet onion, garlic, red pepper and celery as a base – simmered in vegetable stock for ten minutes,

Half a can of undrained black beans added, with half teaspoons of salt and cumin, then simmered for about another five minutes, and  then pureed with an immersion blender.

1 ½ cans of black beans added, with a bit of cornstarch and the juice from half a lemon,  the  whole mess then  simmered again until it thickens.

Oh my!  Zesty and nutritious soup for the next four suppers!


7. On the cusp of Christmas.

In my book I do not get too bothered that Christmas is a cultural as well as a religious holiday. I am glad for any religious/secular holiday which brings people together and helps to create loving community.

With that in mind I spent a few hours this afternoon in telephoning dear friends to “keep in touch”.

That’s as good a reason for the Christmas holiday as is the Christian celebration of the myths which surround the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Mass killings. Mental illness. Murder. (part two)

A follow up from yesterday's blog.

Mental illness is illness.  It is not a choice.

We in the United States have chosen to eviscerate (in the derivative meaning of that word) the medical, social and counselling services which are essential to mentally ill people.  

Thus we have hundreds of thousands of ill people who are on the streets or in prison. (Incidentally in both places they are frequently the objects  not the perpetrators of violent behaviour). It is a national scandal – one amongst many.

Once in a while  a mentally ill person will rampage. Because of another of our other national scandals -  e.g. the widespread availability of fire arms – including weapons which were designed for military usage,- those rampages can result in cruel and horrid murders –  shocking us to the core (for a week or two) when the murders take place in schools, and bringing us to despair when those killed are six and seven year olds.

We are shocked for "a week or two" 

But only those who have lost a child through sudden and accidental death, 

or by murder, 

or because of unexpected and baffling illnesses, 

or because of premature birth or sudden crib/cot death 

understand that there are mums and dads, brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles and cousins, playmates whose grief is unimaginable and will never be completely assuaged.

In the face of the Sandy Hook Massacre, our President did a more than creditable job in being present to the mourners.  But not every response has been helpful. There have been fails.

FAIL # 1:  The despicable response by Wayne Pierre, President of the National Rifle Association, that every school should have volunteer armed security “guards”.

That is a cynical counsel of despair.  (And Wayne Pierre showed his coward’s heart by refusing to take any questions as his so-called “press conference”).

(Just wait until one of those armed volunteers misfires and kills a school child).

FAIL # 2:  President Obama has created a “task force” to look into the issue of gun control.

Bold leaders do not create task forces.

 Bold leaders speak the truth without fear.

(Weak leaders form committees and task forces – I know that from many years of leadership in Churches).

President Obama knows the truth about  our national policy of “no gun control”,  and about the tyranny of the National Rifle Association.  To my mind he failed the test of bold and assertive leadership.  At the very least he should have headed this task force and not passed that buck to Vice-president Biden.

FAIL #3: In the aftermath of the massacre in Newtown there was a spike in the sales and purchases of weapons.

Our coins and bill declare “in God we trust”. Our wallets and credit cards say “in guns we trust”.


There is a culture of violence in the history and at the heart of the United States (and to be fair in many other nations).

Maybe I’ll write about that tomorrow.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Mass killings.Mental illness. Murder. (more tomorrow)

1. Last Sunday, December 16th 2012 I was in another town and at another Church.

I arrived early because my host is a choir member who needed to attend rehearsal.

Wandering the huge campus of this church I came across a room named “The Other Cup”.  From outside I noticed that coffee and snacks were available, so supposing that this was a place for a pre-service cup of java I entered the room.

There were twelve or fourteen people in the room - not one of whom greeted me. I poured a cup of coffee and took my seat.

The others began an un-focussed discussion. Their chat meandered from here to there, and eventually settled on the murders of so many in Sandy Hook, CT on Friday 14th.

Of course there were genuine expressions of shock and grief.  But the group easily came to their conclusion that the shooter Adam Lanza was mentally ill, and that “therapy” would have prevented this massacre. I am not so sure.

I wanted to ask “what about evil"”,  but as a guest I refrained.  It was disconcerting to be in a Christian Church that (apparently) refused to countenance evil.

2. I truly like and enjoy the “Diane Rehm Show” on National Public Radio.  But it sometimes falls short.

Today the guests prattled about the shootings by: 

Erik Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine High School, CO in 1999; 
by Jared Loughner in Tuscon AZ  in 2011; 
by James Holmes in Aurora CO in 2012; 
and by Adam Lanza in Sandy Hook CT a week ago.

This radio panel was all but unanimous in asserting that these killers were mentally ill.

3. This disturbed me for several reasons.

a. None of the panelists had talked with any of the “offenders”.  Their analyses  were “at a distance”

b. Their views cast a pall on mental illnesses – equating them with violence.

c. These views “excuse” mass murder by evil persons.

4. Here’s the rub.

a. First: we in the USA have been willfully negligent in our care for mentally ill people. If a person has cancer he/she will receive superb medical/hospital care.  If a person has a mental illness she/he will most likely be jailed. This is shameful.


b. We wimp out when we equate mass murder with mental illness.

c. We  wimp out when we ignore the possibility of human evil.


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Penne in heaven

“Kate is coming today”.  That’s what I told Penne earlier today.  Kate is the great woman who cleans my house (she retired last summer but has “un-retired”).

Penne likes Kate, and Kate adores Penne.  When Kate arrived Penne gave her many “kisses”.

Whilst Kate worked I went off to have a haircut, to return a book to the library, and to lead the weekly prayer service at Resurrections House.

That being done I walked with Penne, had lunch, and walked again.

Then I drove over to Sarasota’s fabulous Asolo Theatre for a matinee performance of the musical 1776 (which premiered in 1969).

 (cut and paste if necessary)

My guests were the wonderful Ron and Charlotte Thompson. We enjoyed every minute of the show – with its historical accuracy, humour, lively music and superb acting.

Post-show, Ron and Char headed towards the home of my good friend Ben, for a pre-dinner gathering.

I drove home, fed the cats, and then walked Penne over to Ben’s home.  Our mutual friend Bob was also there.

Penne was in heaven!  She rejoiced in the presence of her favourite people: Ben, Bob, Charlotte and Ron (and me!). She is such a good dog in other folk’s homes.  After enjoying their attention for a minute or two she settles down, relaxes, and stretches out on the floor in perfect bliss.

On our way home we encountered two regular walkers (I do not know their names) who are also very fond of Penne.  Of course she basked in their attention.

I had a good day.

Penne had a great day!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

In the face of evil

I was on holiday in Greece at the time of the Columbine High School murders.  I read a paragraph or two about that massacre in an English language newspaper for tourists, but it all seemed so remote, so far away.

I was flying from Tampa to Denver when the news first broke about the slaughters of the innocents in Newtown CT. A passenger in the row before me had paid to use the in-flight T.V., and as he flipped channels I heard no more than “killings in Connecticut”.  And that was all I knew until Sunday morning, when I read about this horror as I went on line to print a boarding pass.

Back in my hotel room in Tampa I switched on CNN and began to get more of the story.  I had a sense of irritation with CNN and the scores of other T.V. stations who had their vans, their cameras, and their reporters in that small town.  I thought that such a huge presence was less than helpful and more than harmful to the residents of Newtown in their awful grief.

“If only” the television media moguls could agree to “pool” their reportage of such tragedies so that (say) no more than three broadcasters and their accouterments were assigned to places of tragedy, disaster and evil.

At home again on Monday my Facebook page was flooded with comments.  I was glad that I had been “Facebook-less” for a few days, and that I had not been tempted to add my two cents worth.

I noted two comments from friends which I believe are worth reading. My guess is that both authors are “sorta centrist” in their politics.  They are each in their mid to late twenties.

I knew S.S. as a worshipper at St. James’s, Cambridge, MA when he was a student at Harvard College.

M.S. was a member of St. Stephen’s Parish, Pittsfield, MA. I knew him as a young child, and as a teenager.

How unloved must one feel to be driven to such evil? We may never know what was raging within his mind and soul, but I think our biggest failing was in allowing one among us to slip through the cracks and fall to such depths of despair. We never know what those around us may be silently struggling through - we must *genuinely* love our neighbors, our brothers, our sons, and our selves, to nurture respect for the dignity of human life.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that, when some sort of a tragedy or a major incident/situation/event occurs, I need to write in order to find some sort of psychological and spiritual release. The recent catastrophe that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut -- a small New England town that provides flashbacks to my upbringing in Massachusetts -- would certainly justify an appropriate circumstance for me -- and many others -- to write and reflect upon in order to attempt to physically, mentally, psychologically, and spiritually process what exactly happened and to attempt to make some sort of sense out of everything.

This is highlighted on the heels of a very powerful, emotional, and appropriate interfaith memorial service remembering those children, educators, and a mother that have been murdered, and also for those law enforcement, fire department, emergency medical services, and other public safety personnel that fought through the numbness and indescribable grief in order to do what they needed to do (or were brave enough to admit when they couldn't). 

I've been reading some comments and cheap political shots about how the United States is a "Godless country." Quite bluntly, I am engaged by this pompous arrogance, and I would appreciate an explanation about how this is an accurate and realistic portrayal of our nation. Is it because of who we elect as President? Is it because we were founded and mandated as a country to be tolerant and "politically correct"? Our country was NOT perfect, and is NOT perfect, but we have come A LONG WAYS in over two hundred years in regards to individuality, community, and society. 

Do you want to know where God is in this country?? God was present when we said that no, people can't be enslaved to other people as property. No, people can't be denied basic HUMAN rights and dignity because of the color of their skin, how old they are, who/what they choose to worship/believe in or not worship/believe in, what private and personal choices they decide to make, and who they love. 

God has been present in every tragedy, situation, disaster, and incident that this country has endured, suffered through, and prevailed throughout its history in and through God's people -- be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Democratic, Republican, Independent, EVERYONE! 

God has been present in all of the "signs and symptoms" that God reveals to everyone, everyday. It is OUR responsibility to recognize, decipher, interpret, and utilize them in the service to our human community. In the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, a community that I and others on here can relate to because I/we grew up and experienced communities just like it, perhaps God has revealed a costly consequence of not discovering the "signs and symptoms" when we are indoctrinated to the ignorant concept that psychology, psychiatry, social work, and criminology are "quack professions" for only overly-dramatic people that just need to stop being babies and grow up and take responsibility for themselves. Are there overly-dramatic people out there? Of course there are, but for every five of these type of attention-seekers, there are at least one or two or three or more of people that genuinely and quite simply just need professional and qualified help. When we stereotype and generalize ALL people, we FAIL. 

God is also present in good people from ALL walks of life that own firearms, are educated well in them, and use them responsibly and with respect. We have been given numerous "signs and symptoms" -- the most recent have involved the innocent blood of children -- that perhaps we need to sit down and communicate with individuals from all political spectrums on how to approach firearm violence prevention without infringing on the fundamental rights under the Second Amendment. There is a way, and I know we can figure it out. We are Americans after all.

These are just a few examples of why we are NOT, and NEVER WILL BE, a "Godless country." The President, along with Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Atheists, Agnostics, Lutherans, the Jewish, Muslims, Congregationalists, the Baha'i, politicians, children, educators, friends, acquaintances, parents, and loved ones from ALL demographics reminded us of that common sense FACT tonight. 

For all the "Mike Huckabees" out there: grow up, open your eyes, and remember that you live in one of the most tolerant, compassionate, and diverse places in the world. Remember that....always...."We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..." This stems from a concept that was not originally embraced by everyone in our country, including our Founders and other historical figures; but, through compromise, civility, well-intentioned debate, "agreeing to disagree," and mutual respect and friendship for each other, this concept was eventually ratified as our Constitution. Those that sit in the chairs once occupied by our Founders and some of the greatest minds in history (from ALL political ideologies) should do well to reflect on this. The future of our country depends on it.


Monday, 17 December 2012

Home, sweet home

Home, sweet home.

I am back at home after a brief vacation.

Last Friday I arrived in Phoenix to stay with my dear and beloved friend Joyce.  (She was a parishioner in Pittsfield MA)

We enjoyed two very relaxing days together, despite the unusual rainy and cold weather in Arizona.

We did not need to “do” anything, we simply enjoyed being together.

Michael and Joyce

Nevertheless we took one trip:to the Museum of Musical Instruments:

There amongst many other things we viewed John Lennon’s piano - on which he composed “Imagine”.

John Lennon's piano

John Lennon apart,  Joyce and I enjoyed a bit of shopping, a lot of talking, and the worship of God at Joyce’s parish: “St Barnabas in the Desert” in Scottsdale/Paradise Valley.


After Church and lunch with Joyce I took a flight from Phoenix AZ to Tampa FL (the flight arrived in Tampa 20 minutes early!!, and then I stayed overnight at a “La Quinta” Inn near TPA,

After a good night of sleep I drove up to Lutz, FL to connect with former Cambridge parishioners: - Dr. Michelle Holmes – a breast cancer researcher at Harvard Medical School, her husband Derrick  Z Jackson – a “Boston Globe” columnist;  and their younger son Tano, (who has just graduated from college, and is about to train as a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.)

Michelle, Tano, Derrick

(Michelle, Derrick and Tano were in this neck of the woods to attend the ceremony at which Derrick’s nephew was awarded he “Eagle Scout” badge)
We enjoyed lunch at the Spanish inspired restaurant in Ybor City, FL The Columbia”  (see

Although I am very tired this evening, I am so glad that I can make and enjoy these connections!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Of on a jaunt

Friday 14th Dec 2012.

Visit for two days with my dear friend Joyce Thornburg in PHX

Sunday 16th Dec 2012


Stay overnight at La Quinta Inn near TPA

Monday 17th Dec 2012 morning

Lunch in Tampa. FL  with my beloved friends Michelle Holmes and Derrick Jackson, from Cambridge MA. They will be in the area because Derrick’s nephew will receive his Eagle Scout award.

Monday 17th Dec 2012 afternoon.  

To SRQ and a joyful reunion with my dog Penne.

Back in touch with you on Monday evening

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Good neighbours: cats, a dog, and travel.

I am taking a wee trip away from Friday 14th December 2012 until Monday 17th December 2012. (More about this tomorrow)

I planned the trip three weeks ago.  But I neglected to pay attention to a few details.

1. I forgot to suspend my newspaper delivery.

2. I forgot to suspend mail delivery.

3. I did not make arrangements for cat care.

Oh my!

Fear not. After 6 ½ years living at Glen Oaks Ridge, SRQ I have discovered the blessing of having good neighbours.

SO....  at very short notice and after a couple of conversations

1. My neighbour  Barbara will retrieve my newspaper from my driveway on Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings.

Barbara does not subscribe to our local paper so I have told her to enjoy it for three days.

2. Another neighbour Kathy will stop by my home on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings to make a fuss of the cats, to refresh their water bowls, and to give them their evening treats.  Kathy will also retrieve my mail.


But what about my darling dog Penne?

Of course she was at the top of my list, and I had not forgotten her care.

So she is with my fabulous friends Ron and Charlotte Thompson who will love and care for her until Monday afternoon.

They adore Penne (who wouldn't).

I drove Penne to Ron and Charlotte’s home this afternoon. We stopped at a traffic light some 100 yards from where they live. At that moment Penne began to “sing” – she loves visiting with Ron and Char.

They welcomed her with great enthusiasm, and I snuck out of their home before she realised that she was at “doggy camp” for a few days.

She will be fine.

 Now back at home I miss her already. I keep thinking  that she will come bounding towards me.

So do my cats. They were utterly discombobulated when I returned to my home this afternoon ‘”sans Penne”

But my cats will be safe,  and my dog will be loved and cared for by Ron and Char.

AND I will be blessed as I visit a dear friend in Phoenix,AZ

More  tomorrow.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Mornings in SRQ

Photo's via my friend Bill Byers

He and I see each other most mornings as I walk with my dog Penne and he walks his dog Maggie at sunrise. . Most of these photo's were taken by Bill using his   iPhone.

They show the Lakes at Glen Oaks Manor where Bill lives, and Glen Oaks Ridge where I live.

I enjoy the morning light and I am grateful that Bill took and shared these photo's.


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Local and low maintenance shopping.

Yesterday (Dec 10th 2012) I went to the locally owned pet food etc store (Holistic for Pets in Sarasota) to buy some bags of dried food for Penne my dog and for Adelaide and Ada my cats.

I choose to use locally owned stores in the hope that some of my dollars are retained in my community.

At the checkout I paid for the food, and for some “poop bags”.

The clerk/assistant rang up my purchases and then said “thank you for being so low maintenance”.

I was not sure what she meant, so I asked “what do you mean?”

“Oh” she replied, “so many of our customers are very high maintenance" (which being interpreted means “hard to please”).

To be truthful I am not always a low maintenance person.  I am often very hard to please.

But I have a great respect for those who work in retail stores.

They are very often underpaid and undervalued.

So I do my best to be kind and gracious to retail clerks/ assistants.

I encourage my readers to “shop locally” whenever possible and to be utterly respectful of the women and men who work in retails stores.

Thank goodness that I was able to be “low maintenance” as a customer at “Holistic for Pets” here in SRQ.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Advance Australia Fair

So, this is a National Anthem which never caught on.

Ne’er mind about the Anthem, it’s incidental.

But do mind about Australia.

It’s a fabulous Country/Nation/Continent.

I was there a year ago.

On Dec 10th 2011 I was visiting my friends Andrew and Felicity McGowan in Melbourne. On that day I took a Ferry from Melbourne down to Williamstown.

I could not resist that trip since I know of only two places called “Williamstown”:   - this  one in the Australian State of Victoria, the other one in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

More important than the two places called Williamstown is that I utterly enjoyed being in Australia.

I visited the (under-rated) and gorgeous City of Adelaide.

My days in Melbourne were delightful (it’s a fabulous City).

And (of course) I spent some time in the “tourist trap” City of Sydney.

A year later I am drenched in Australian memories. I would love to return there.

Should you decide to visit Australia I am sure that you would love to visit the “Great Barrier Reef”. etc

All well and good: if that is “your thing “.

But if you are in Australia do not neglect to  visit  Adelaide and Melbourne.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

I have retired again, and it feels so good!

Here is the letter I sent about my "second retirement".

 It was published in the St. Boniface Church, Sarasota, FL newsletter

Dear friends at St. Boniface,

After fifty two years of preaching (yes I  began when I was sixteen years old!) I 
have advised Bishop Dabney Smith of my  intention to retire from all public ministry  at St. Boniface, and in the other parishes  where I have served as a "supply priest".

I love the Lord and my faith is deep and sweet, but after all these years I 
find  the task of sermon preparation and  preaching to be more of a burden than a 

It has been a joy and pleasure to serve  at St. Boniface from the pulpit and at the altar, and I thank you for this privilege.

I look forward to sharing with you in the  worship and service of God, but from the 
pews rather than up-front.

Yours sincerely in the Lord Jesus,

Michael Povey.

 "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:"( Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Friday, 7 December 2012

"I am Hutterite" -Book recommendation.

Some years ago I wrote about a couple of Hutterite women who work in a local supermarket, and retain their traditional dress.  This is anomalous since Hutterite people live in “colonies”, and there is no such colony in this neck of the woods.

I had a brief conversation with the older of the two women (it turns out that they are aunt and niece).  She was more than a wee bit surprised that I knew of Jacob Hutter. In common with other Hutterites she is very reserved; therefore I have not pressed her for more of her story.

Last week whilst I was browsing at Sarasota’s Fruitville Library I glimpsed a title, which then caught my attention.

The book is “I am Hutterite”, by Mary-Ann Kirkby (Thomas Nelson 2010).

It is a delightfully nuanced memoir about growing up in Hutterite Colonies in Canada: - (New Rosedale and Fairholme, in Manitoba).

Mary-Ann’s parents made the fateful decision to leave the colony and with it everything that was familiar, lovely, and tender. They were also leaving what they believed to be autocratic and arbitrary leadership.

The book speaks of the joys of  life in the colony, and of the struggles and hardships the family endured when they left.

Mary-Ann writes with pure affection about life in the Hutterite community – and of the difficulty of adjusting to life amongst the “English” when her family left.

("English"  is how Hutterites, and also Amish refer to people in the outside world). 

(Amish and Hutterite folks refer to others as  “English” , because in both Hutterite and Amish communities older German dialects are the lingua franca).


1. Although Hutterites and Amish trace their origins to the radical wing of the European Reformation they have no common history. (The Amish emerged from the Mennonites when they perceived that the latter were getting too lax!).

2. Hutterites do not “shun” those who choose to leave.

I recommend this gracious book  (and will return my copy to the Sarasota Library on Saturday 8th December 2012)

For more information see:


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The power of suggestion

My good nephew Nick and his fabulous wife Lesley (“Lel”) were in Glasgow, Scotland today to do some Christmas shopping.

Lord alone knows why they travelled the 371 miles from our home City of Bristol, England to get stuff in Glasgow which was probably readily available at home.

Not to worry – “Lel” posted on her Facebook page that she was in line at the station (rail?) to get a “Bacon Sarny”.

This, being interpreted for Americans, means a “Bacon Sandwich”.

“A bacon sandwich?”  : -  “who could wish for anything more!”

Not I.!

The power of suggestion is often irresistible!

Thus, inspired by Lel, I bought some bacon this morning with the intention of having a bacon (plus lettuce and tomato) sandwich for my supper today.

“Fate” intervened, via my friends Ron and Charlotte Thompson. They hosted a magnificent birthday lunch for our mutual friend Bob Lewis.

We ate:

1.  Fabulous nibbles (including Charlotte’s homemade salmon spread).

2 Deliciously spiced pumpkin soup, also made from scratch by Charlotte.

3 A gorgeous salad with blue cheese and pecans.

4 Charlotte’s wonderful cake (lemon cake with basil) for dessert.

After the lunch time feast I am fuller than full.

So the BLT will be postponed until Thursday or Friday.


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Correction to yesterday's blog re Grant Burroughs.

Grant, the artist who created the wonderful painting I posted yesterday is not a Kindergartner.

He is in first grade.

These distinctions are mightily important to six year olds.

Here again is his terrific painting.  (Yes indeed this artist is six years old).

Way to go Grant!  ( and his fabulous parents Peter and Ashley, and his younger brother Dalton)

Monday, 3 December 2012


Here is a painting

By Grant Burroughs at his first ever art lesson at Lakewood Ranch. FL.

Here is the artist -  Grant Burroughs - who is in kindergarten.

This is a drawing which Grant made for me a couple of years ago.  I know him, his brother, and his parents from Church.  I framed Grant's drawing and it rests on my hall table.

Do you not think that Grant's new picture is simply stunning?

Concert Sunday December 2nd 2012

My good pal Ben and I took ourselves to Sarasota’s  “Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall” for a concert by the Sarasota Orchestra this afternoon (Dec 2nd 2012) at 2:30 p.m.

The Sarasota Orchestra is “as good as they come”.  In fact they are “better than they come” in the smaller American cities such as Sarasota. Maybe they are as good as the “big name” orchestras!

The first offering today was Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony (No. 41 in C Major. K 551).  This is Mozart at his very best, and the orchestra played the symphony with wondrous skill, which enabled great beauty. Mozart would have been proud.

After the intermission we heard “The Planets” by Gustav Holst.

I’ve known “The Planets” since I was 12 or 13 years old and in High School.  (Perhaps it was even earlier since my beloved father loved to listen to classical music on the B.B.C.).

But my enjoyment of “The Planets” has ever been on the radio, or via recordings.
Now all these years later I enjoyed it live for the first time.

I was on the edge of my seat as I drank in every note of Holst’s fabulous music. Cool, cool, cool!

1. The woman who sat to my left in the concert hall (I have never met her before), talked to me at the intermission. She asked “did you notice the cellist with red hair?” Indeed I had noticed her.  My seat mate whispered “she is my grand-daughter.” (Warm fuzzy feelings all round!)

2. The Sarasota Orchestra is without a permanent Director/Conductor.  The Guest Conductor this afternoon, Thomas Wilkins, was a hit. The audience adored him

3. Just before the performance of “The Planets” he made a little speech in which he said that the Sarasota Orchestra players are “servant musicians”, and that they are channels of something much greater than themselves.  Wow!  That’s a spiritual/religious concept if ever.

4. A person in the row behind me was wearing a hearing aid which crackled and whistled throughout the concert. It was a bit trying to make tender and passionate love with a mosquito in the bedroom.

Thomas Wilkins

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Advent: Image from Bruce, words from Wes.

Graphic via Bruce Bryant-Scott.

The Revd. Wes Wasdyke was the preacher at St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key, FL on November 17th 2012.

Wes is a good friend and colleague.

One of the texts that Sunday  was Hebrews 10:11-25. Here is part of what Wes Wasdyke said:

“The reading from..... Hebrews urges us to “hold fast to the confession of our faith without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful”.  To “hold fast” means to be faithful, and to be faithful implies being obedient.

Obedience is an unpopular concept in this post-modern age; it’s not a word we use easily.

But an Episcopal monk whom I know speaks of obedience in a way which makes sense to me. He (the monk) explains it in the following way:What God wants from us is the same as what God wants for us. So when God commands, we should listen, because God is not only asking something from us but is also offering something for us”. 

Remember, the gospel means good news. What God asks of us and gives to us is not burdensome; it is life giving”.

BLUE  - Wes Wasdyke's words.

RED -  Wes Wasdyke's quotation from an Episcopal monk.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Dwelling together in unity.

My heading is taken from Psalm 133 verse 1 which reads “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”

My charitable heart wants to believe that the Psalmist meant “brothers and sisters”.

I've had three days’ worth of good and pleasant conversations in unity.

On Wednesday I had lunch at the ever dependable “Panera Bread” with my brother Wes Wasdyke.

Wes has had a dual career – as a Medical Doctor (Anaesthesiologist), and as an Episcopal Priest.

He and his good wife Cindy have homes in Nashua N.H. and in Lakewood Ranch, FL.

In retirement Wes is one of the “Priest Associates” at St. Boniface Church here in Sarasota.

He is a fine, solid, and thoughtful preacher.

It is always great to break bread with Wes, to talk about our convictions and hopes, and to share our mutual commitment to the God we know and love in Jesus Christ.

On Thursday I lunched with my beloved Andi Taylor at the Lobster Pot on Siesta Key.

 Andi is the Assistant Rector at our parish (St. Boniface on Siesta Key FL).  She has carried a heavy burden (which has not always been appreciated) since the retirement of the St. Boniface Rector in May 2011.

Andi is a fabulous priest. I respect her greatly.

And I also am very fond of her good husband Jonathan, and their sons Noah and Jacob.

Today I dove up to Bradenton Beach, there to have lunch at the Gulf Drive Cafe, with my pals Fred Emrich and Diana Lee.

Fred and I were colleagues in western Massachusetts when he was the Rector at St. James, Greenfield, MA and I was at St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield MA.  We liked and respected each other.

Much later both Fred and I retired.

 Then Fred had the good sense to marry the fabulous Diana Lee, (who was born of British parents in India, educated in England, and ended up in the U.S.A.)  

They bought a winter home in this neck of the woods, thus Fred and I were able to re-connect, and I met the lovely Diana for the first time.

Whoop – de – doo   Diana, Fred and I had a grand old time at lunch today even though the food was merely “fair to middling”

“How good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity!”

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Dave Macy - a "hero" of mine in Maine

A few years ago I traveled up to the Island of North Haven ME (in the Penobscot Bay).


I was there to preach and to  celebrate the Eucharist at the one and only church on this small and isolated island.

I was a guest of my friends Fred and Diana Emrich who spend half of the year on the island, and the other half on Longboat Key, FL.

It was a lovely weekend.  North Haven ME is a beautiful place.

But I could never live there (or on any small island).

I love the bustle of cities. I am glad to have three supermarkets, two post offices, and four banks within a mile of my home in SRQ.

It’s cool to live a twenty minute drive away from the SRQ airport, and no more than seventy minutes away from a larger airport (TPA in Tampa).

And I am less than a twenty minute drive away from our opera House, our Van Wezel performing arts centre, the fabulous Ringling Museums, and seven theatres.

All of this, and scores of restaurants – many scores!

Here in SRQ we also can listen to the twin public radio stations – WUSF and WSMR.

WUSF is largely talk, with a good supply of news and commentary from the BBC in London, some programming from Canada, and all night jazz.

WSMR is a twenty four hour classical music station.


‘Tain’t so up on North Haven where there is but one Church, a couple of stores and may two or three restaurants.

The nearest supermarket is on the mainland, and you get there on a 75 minute ferry ride.


The one Church on North Haven has a fabulous pastor named Dave Macy.  I met Dave and his wife on my visit to the Island.

One of the lifelines on North Haven is the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.  It has offered a rich menu of news, classical music and jazz.

Sadly MPBN has decided to change its format, away from music and towards “talk/prattle/chatter”.

Of this decision Dave Macy wrote:

“MPBN: Replacing the timeless with the ephemeral since 2012”

Oh dear David, even from my place of privilege in SRQ I am “with you”.

So much of our culture is obsessed with the ephemeral rather than with the timeless


So I ask my dear readers:

 “what parts of your lives are rooted in the ephemeral? “,


“what parts of your lives rejoice in the timeless?” .


Please post your responses to this blog, or on Facebook

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Walking out

Penne and I walked out again this evening  (we've "done" 4 1/2 miles today).

Here is what we saw.

Evening Sun 1

My favourite Gnarly Tree 1

My favourite Gnarly Tree 2

Penne's favourite flowers - she always stops to sniff them

Penne and my right foot

Evening Sun 2

We were also seen ( and I look as old as I am).

Yes, we were seen by a woman from the neighbourhood who took this photo'. 

The woman "adores Penne" (and the feeling is mutual)..  

She used to walk with a man, but I did not know if it was her brother, her partner, or her spouse.

 Today after she and Penne had engaged in a "love fest" I said "we've seen each other so many times, but I do not know your name".

"Sophie" she replied.

"Is that short for Sophia?" I asked.  "No" she said, "when my parents moved to the U.S.A. from Greece they anglicized my name".

She related that she had been born in Chicago of Greek parents.

I went into a peroration about the name "Sophia", asking her if she knew its meaning.  She did not, so I let her know that "Sophia" is from the Greek language, and that it means "Wisdom".

Then  Sophie  began to get very weepy.  Amidst her tears she told me that her husband (the man who walked with her) had died a month ago.

(I had wondered why I had not seen him in a while, but there are some questions we never ask).

Sophie went on to tell me that her husband (I discovered that his name was Patrick) had also adored Penne, and that when he was very ill she would walk back home and say "I saw Penne today" - which brought him great pleasure.

I promised Sophie that I would pray for her and Patrick each morning.

BUT DAMN  if only I had known how much Patrick liked Penne I would have taken her to see him in his terminal illness.