Thursday, 8 January 2015

Retirement life: Wednesday and Thursday, 7th and 8th December 2015

Wednesday mornings see me at Resurrection House (a day shelter for homeless people in SRQ), to lead a prayer service.  Attendance has been sparse in recent weeks.
But on both Wednesday 31st December 2014, and on Wednesday 7th January I met two different homeless men who each wanted to talk about their lives and failures.
I don't normally offer counsel, but on both weeks I decided to listen, and to respond with care.
In each case the men:
1. Blamed others for the failures which best them.
2. Could not be honest about their own responsibility, until I pressed them not to evade the truth.
3. Found many reasons to reject my suggestions regarding possible ways out of their mire.
"Tut tut", you say.
"Oh yes", I say. "I am often just like that".  I want to blame others for my failures; I fail to be deeply honest about my life;  I reject those suggestions which might upset my apple-cart (even though those suggestions might lead to a greater wholeness in my life).
I am them, except that I have a home and an income.
On the first Wednesday of each month I often share Holy Communion with a small group of St. Boniface Parish (SRQ)  folks who gather every Wednesday for a pot-luck dinner. (On the other Wednesdays of the month the group prays with the Anglican/Episcopal service of Evening Prayer, a service which does not need or require the presence of an ordained minister).
I like this service so much: 
First  because  (as it takes place in the parish hall) I can take my dominatrix (Penne my dog), who is universally adored. She now recognizes the space, and gets very excited when we get out of my car.  Last night the small group members were impressed because she was willing to lie down on command.  I said "just wait until you see her make the sign of the cross"!
Second because the "informal" nature of this service allows me to have great latitude in the way it proceeds.  (Of course I like being "in charge"!)
Last evening I chose not to preach.  Instead, after the bible readings, we kept silence.  (There is something which is mystically wonderful about shared silence).
The group, (assailed as we all are by too many words), expressed deep gratitude for this opportunity to be in a shared and prayerful silence.
I drove over to Lakeland FL today  (seventy miles away)  to have lunch with my beloved Dr. Grace Jones (a friend and contemporary from my Pittsfield days) and her new beau - a wonderful man named Mack.  (Grace, from Connecticut, and Mack, from Hawaii,  are  holidaying in Orlando, some fifty miles away from Lakeland).
Oh my goodness, it was such a deep joy to be with them.  I "adore" Grace, and I was delighted to meet Mack.
(We ate at a "Panera Bread"  - which brought back happy memories of the only other time I have been in that particular restaurant in Lakeland, five or six years ago.  That was when I hooked up with my dear niece Anne (from the U.K of course), her husband Stuart and their daughter Olivia - who were on holiday at Disney.)
Since I was to be away for about six hours, Miss Penne stayed with my "two doors away" neighbours Ed and Eddie  (the folks I visit in their summer home in Hendersonville, N.C.).  Penne is incredibly fond of Ed, so she settled down and relaxed in their home.  They enjoyed having her as a guest.
Of course she engaged in a disgraceful display of irrational exuberance when I got back home.  Anything less would have dismayed me. 

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