Saturday, 1 September 2012

Living in the future

I have a behavioural habit which frustrates, bothers, and annoys me.

It’s this: - whatever I am doing, I am always thinking about the next thing I have to do.

For instance:  as I walk my dog in the early morning I often think about what I need to do when we return to my home.

 “What I need to do” is rarely urgent or important.

Once, when I was driving home from the supermarket I caught myself thinking about the order in which I would I would take my purchases from the bags  and place them in the fridge, the pantry, or the utility room shelves.

Sometimes, when I am in Church I am not paying attention to the liturgy or sermon – instead I am figuring out the quickest route back to my home.

And, as I am falling asleep I am forever thinking about what I need to do when I awake.

None of this is admirable. Nor should it be emulated.

Beauty in a dream

I had a lovely dream on Tuesday night (28th August 2012).

In that dream I was in a Church building which I recognised as the Trinity United Methodist Church in Atlanta, GA, the home Church of my friends Susan and Lisa.

(I had visited this Church at the beginning of July 2012.)

As the dream proceeded it became clear to me that I was witnessing some sort of a pageant.

Two birds flew over the congregation – and in the dream I knew what those birds signified.  (Whatever the significance I could not remember it when I awoke!)

My dream caused me to look t’wards the back of the Church where I “saw” a Roman Catholic Priest. (Don’t ask how I knew that he was a Catholic Priest -  I/we simply know such things in dreams).

Then, in the dream, I “heard” the most wonderful and beautiful music. It was so exquisitely lovely that even in a dream I became teary eyed.

 (How wonderful it is that dreams can bring us to tears [or laughter]}

In my dream the choir was singing the hymn “Great is Thy faithfulness”.

It is a gorgeously simple hymn of faith which is sung by mainstream protestants and evangelicals alike. It reads thus:

"Great is Thy faithfulness," O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

"Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
"Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.


Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!


The video is from the BBC TV  programme “Songs of Praise”  -  watch and hear “Great is Thy faithfulness” being sung with great vigour.


Friday, 31 August 2012

And like a good neighbour (3)

“As I walked out....” is the title of a wonderful book by Laurie Lee, an author who was born in Stroud, Glos, U.K. and raised in nearby Slad, Glos.

Laurie Lee is also the author of a fabulous memoir “Cider with Rosie”. It’s a must read.

As I (jmp) walked out with my fabulous dog (Penne) a couple of nights ago we encountered my neighbour Edie and her miniature poodle “Lady”.  Joining them was another neighbour Randi, who is a dog trainer and has three most gorgeous sheep dogs, which were not with her the other night.

Our paths often cross, but we chat at a distance, knowing that Penne is skittish around other dogs (except her boy-friend “Basil” a lovely Shar-pei, and her new friend “Chardonnay” a gorgeous golden retriever).

On this occasion Edie extended Lady’s leash, so much so that Lady got very close to Penne.

A scuffle ensued.

After just a few seconds poor Lady ran whimpering back to her “Mom” -  my Penne had bitten her.

 I felt so badly about this, even though Edie immediately said “it’s my fault; I let her get too close”.

The bite was not severe, but it punctured Lady’s skin which began to bleed.

The next morning I stopped by Edie’s home, to check on Lady and to give Edie some flowers as an expression of my regret.  Lady was just fine.

Later in the day I received this e-mail:

Lady loves the flowers.
Thank you for your thoughtfulness.
Tell Penny we understand she was just being a dog.

 How lovely. Neighbours can be neighbourly.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

And like a good neighbour (2)

My youngest brother Martyn and his son Sam (together with Sam’s pal Toby) will be visiting from England starting next week.

We are each now counting the days.

The original plan called for the lads to be sleeping on air mattresses on my lanai. That would not have been the most comfortable or convenient arrangement.

Like a good neighbour, my buddy Ed who lives two doors away has offered two beds in his home (he is on a visit to North Carolina).

Sam and Toby will sleep well, and I won’t have to tip-toe around when I get up at 4:30 each morning (as is my wont).

Martyn will be comfortable in the guest room (with my pet porcupine!)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

And like a good neighbour

I was trying to install one of those gizmos which we place on the walls of our garages etc. in order to hang tools, brooms, shovels, rakes etc.

If these gizmos have a name it has escaped me, but readers will know that they are metal strips which contain several clips into which we insert the handles of our tools.

I encountered a problem.

 The inner walls in my utility room are insubstantial, made as they are of wallboard.

This flimsy construction means that I must use “toggle bolts” to affix such strips to the wall.

“O ye toggle bolts – ye are so difficult to use”

That' s what I discovered earlier in the week.

Fortunately a neighbour was nearby.  I know him to be very practical and “handy with tools”.

I asked him to help me.

He responded readily.

But he did not “help me”.

Instead he showed me how to install  toggle bolts,.

How cool.

My request for “help” was transformed into a bit of learning.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Prayer or Superstition in the face of a crisis

When listening to my local N.P.R. radio station (WUSF) on last Friday or Saturday I heard the words of an apparently very nice and sincere woman in Tampa, FL.

In the face of Tropical Storm Isaac she said that “she was praying that it would not hit Tampa, and that she was keeping her fingers crossed."

I heard this as an odd juxtaposition of words.


(A) Believers pray.

(B) Non-believers (superstition-prone folks) keep their fingers crossed.

I am not sure that it matters either way. Tropical Storms and Hurricanes have a “mind of their own”, unyielding to all manner of prayers or superstitions.

So, how do I, as a believer, pray in the face of Tropical Storms and Hurricanes?

1. I do not pray that my locality will be spared.That would be a selfish prayer, for if the storm avoids my home it will most certainly bring devastation to other areas.

2. I can pray that my loved ones will be kept safe.  That is a natural prayer in the face of any and all imminent tragedies.  It is a personal prayer of the heart.

3. Mostly I will pray (and give thanks) for the “first responders” who rush into places of devastation.  I will give  thanks to G-d for the police, fire-fighters, red-cross and salvation army volunteers, national guard military members,  and the  “million and one” blessed ordinary folk who do their best in the face of adversity.

 That’s the best I can do, apart from being a volunteer in the midst of crisis.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

A Pastor speaks the truth.

A Pastor speaks:--

“That’s the strangest thing about this life, about being in the ministry. People change the subject when they see you coming. And then sometimes those very same people come into your study and tell you the most remarkable things.  There’s a lot under the surface of life, everyone knows that. A lot of malice and dread and guilt, and so much loneliness, where you wouldn’t really expect to find it, either.”

(From the novel "Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson, published by Picador in 2004)