Saturday, 6 December 2014

Lunch 6th December 2014. Inspired by Jessica DeLand

My well beloved Jessica DeLand recently posted this picture of a "Hummus Plate"  which she enjoyed at the Riverbend CafĂ© in Great Barrington, MA (in the gorgeous Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts).

Jessica's meal.
This inspired me to create some home-made hummus for my lunch today.



It included home-made Hummus (with diced red peppers) on a bed of watercress
Persian Cucumber
Good tomatoes
Toasted Eureka Baking Co "Graniac Bread"  (good bread, available at Publix)
Yer tiz
Damn (!)  It was good.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Nov 30th posting - "Hospital calls to B and F" - and an amazing follow up

Re my posting on Sunday, 30 November 2014  entitled   "Hospital calls to B and F, and deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life (again)"

(Check it out on my blog, or on my Facebook timeline).
What a difference a week makes!

Earlier this week I felt sure that I would be offering prayers for B, when and if  F decided to withdraw life support.

I visited them this morning at Blake Hospital in Bradenton, FL.  

Here is what I found today,  (I can now use their names):
Well I never.   Bob began to show signs of unexpected but welcome progress yesterday afternoon.
He is now breathing on his own , and is clearly responsive to his surroundings, with eye movements, attempts at smiles, and facial responses to conversation.
I saw it myself this morning when I visited.  When Frank (Bob's partner) offered a kiss -  Bob puckered his lips!
I did not see Patty or Peggy, (Bob's sisters) but Frank is clearly over the moon with joy.
I chatted with Bob, we prayed the Lord's prayer, and then I offered healing prayer, and pronounced God's blessing. 
Then I went downstairs in the hospital with Frank for an excellent cup of coffee, and a long parking lot conversation.  I am sharing this news with his permission.
Frank is grateful for the St. Boniface team, and for our love, prayers, and support.


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Chance? conversations Part Two

I left the Barber-shop yesterday to head down to the day shelter for homeless people where I serve as chaplain.  I was not driving in the joy of the Lord, for the shelter's population has changed drastically, and being there can often seem like a chore rather that like Christian service.

I greeted one of the other volunteers, a petite eighty something woman named Helen.  She loves my jokes so I often greet her by saying  "Helen, the face that launched a thousand quips".

Helen was down.  She had counted on my being there so that I could listen to her sadness.  Her son  (in his sixties?) had died earlier in the week in Oakland, CA.  Helen is a widow, and an older son had also died, so she is very much alone.  She is not connected with any "faith community".  And it will be impossible for her to get out to California.

So I was there for a reason, to listen to Helen. 

Pastoral care is sometimes simply listening to a person's sadness.


One man showed for the prayer service.  Sandy-haired, stocky, maybe mid-forties.  Life had evidently dealt him some cruel hand or other. He said, "I came in here just to cry because I don't want to cry in front of the others.

So I let him cry.

Pastoral care is sometimes simply listening to a man as he weeps.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Chance? conversations today.

At the Barbershop

I was there soon after 9:00 a.m.    It was good to see Bobbie (Barbara) there. Bobbie and I see each other most mornings as I stroll out with Penne,and she does her long and brisk early morning walk.

Her mind is set on walking, so we usually share a hale and hearty greeting, with no time for conversation .

One  morning I saw her with her husband as he, on a walker, and she took a short walk.  I have seen them a  couple of other times when Bobbie has taken him around the pond's walkway in his wheel-chair. He has a lovely smile.

Bobbie and I sat together and chatted this morning.  Hubby, in his wheel-chair was getting shorn. I mentioned his gorgeous smile.  She said that even with all his physical weaknesses he is always entirely gracious, and appreciative of her loving care.

I asked "for how long have you been married?"   She responded "for 55 1/2 years".  Then she told me the story.

He was a Mechanical Engineer working for the Goodyear Company in Columbia. 

Her father a University Professor, (and an ornithologist) was on a sabbatical leave in Columbia. 

Following Bobbie's graduation from College, she and her sister joined their parents in Columbia.  They travelled by freighter from San Francisco  (a two week voyage).

In Columbia she was asked to go out in a blind date.  She resisted with all her might.  Despite all her protests she "gave in" and went out.  Two months later she and her date  ( the man who is now her husband) were engaged to be married.

All these years later I love this story. 


 In the U.S.A. the barbers who own their business (and maybe hair stylists too) do not have employees, but they rent out their chairs to other qualified folks.

This morning I did not get the affable Patrick (the owner).  Instead I got a somewhat gawky 30+ guy, who always does a good job.

I'd heard that he was also a University student, so I asked him what he was studying. He said that his forte is Chemical Engineering, and that he is paying for his studies by moonlighting as a barber.

I told him that I am a semi-retired Priest, and that because of a quirk in British law back in the 1970's my four years of study at St. John's College Nottingham/and the University of Nottingham were entirely financed by the Oxfordshire County Council. (I happened to be working in Oxfordshire when I applied for my financial aid).

My barber became animated. He (a Chemical Engineering major) began to talk about theology!

He said, "I love theology".

He  went on to chat about St. Augustine of Hippo, a fourth/fifth century Bishop and Theologian in north Africa. 

Mr. Chemical Engineering  Barber told me that he loves the writings of Augustine, especially the latter's Magnum Opus: "The City of God". He has read every word.

By now I was almost out of my depth.  I covered my embarrassment by telling him that I had quoted Augustine in a recent sermon  (c'est vrai).

I was too craven to tell him that I have never read "The City of God".

So, to cover my theological ineptitude,  I tipped him handsomely!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014


True generosity comes without any terms or conditions.

Monday, 1 December 2014


What are your most important relationships?

For many American males the answer would be (in order of importance).

1.   My smart 'phone

2.   My gun

3.   My money

4.   My belly

5.  My family

6.   My car

7.   My sport's team

8.   My friends

9.   My Doctors

10.   My God -  but only on Friday, Sabbath or Sunday (depending on which religion I observe)

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Hospital calls to B and F, and deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life (again)

One of the prayers we use in the Episcopal Church asks God that we should become "deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life".

It's a good and wise prayer.  It reminds me that we live no more than one day at a time.  Or, as the biblical book of Proverbs  says: "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring".  Proverbs 27:1

It's been a time when I've once again been reminded of the fragility of life.

B and F  (I will not use their names in order to respect their privacy) have a historical connection with the Sarasota parish which I call home.

They moved away from SRQ (FL)  some years ago to a town south of SRQ, but never connected with another parish.

About two weeks ago B fell off a ladder at work, and landed on his head. He was taken by helicopter to the Trauma Unit at a hospital in Bradenton, FL.

I was asked to visit him, and his partner F at that hospital.  Of course I've done so (twice), even though I have never before met them. 

F and I had a long 'phone conversation today. B's prognosis is grim.  He is extremely unlikely to make any significant recovery from his severe brain damage.  F will most likely have to make some tough end of life decisions for his lover and partner.

So I will be with them again tomorrow at the Hospital in Bradenton. I will listen to F and pray with him and with B.  That's what Ministers are called to do.

My heart aches for F as he sits by his lover's hospital bed.

He, (with us?) is now deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life.  His heart of love is willing to release B into the eternal arms of love.