Saturday, 23 April 2016

When I didn't "hear" my brother's voice.

When I am backing up/reversing I often "hear"my brother Martyn's voice saying  "use your mirrors".

I did not "hear" it this morning.

As I left my home I saw that my brand new next door neighbour had parked his car, not in his driveway, but across the street.

I "saw" it, but I did not note it. I did not use my mirrors.

So,  as I reversed out of my driveway,  I "pranged" his vehicle. ''Twas a minor fender bender on the back left door of his car.

I parked my car, rang his doorbell, and "confessed" my crime.

He was so cool about this, saying that these wee matters did not bother him.  We agreed that I would pay for his repairs, and that we did not need to involve our Insurance companies.

In an old fashioned  (and good) manner we shook hands on the deal.

This "old way" of doing business is infinitively better to having a public brawl and/or involving Law Enforcement and Insurance Companies.

He and I have a chance of becoming good neighbours.

We giggled at fact that "he knows where I live!"

Friday, 22 April 2016

Beautiful location, Superb food, Marvelous friends.

I drove north on I 75, and then north-west on I 275 this morning (mercifully the traffic was light). I was headed towards the gorgeous Fort De Soto County Park.  This area had at one time been an Army Air force bombing range, and later a U.S. Air force range.

When the military left it was deeded to Pinellas (FL) County.  It could have been transformed into a holiday destination with the accompanying Condominiums, Hotels, Restaurants and the like. But good  and wise government prevailed. The Pinellas County Commissioners decided to preserve it as an un-developed County Park.

It is an utterly unspoiled Key (Island) , a place of joy and delight for campers, kayakers, day visitors, cyclists and the like.

The Fort De Soto County Park is one of my favourite beach areas, "besting" in my opinion the much acclaimed Sarasota County beaches -  Siesta Key, Crescent Beach, Lido Key beach etc., for at Fort De Soto the beaches and the Gulf of Mexico there is next to no sign of "development". How wonderful it is to be on a Key with nary a Condo, Hotel or Restaurant in sight. (I'll probably be expelled from Sarasota County for that remark).

I've previously been at F D S P with with my two older sisters and their husbands, with my first Cousin Janet, with my good friend Betsy Pusey (now deceased), and with my great friend from Cambridge, MA, Mary Caulfield.  Happy memories.


Today at F D S P  I reveled in superb food cooked on an outdoor charcoal grill -  Filet Mignon wrapped in Bacon. Mushrooms, Asparagus, and Spud.  My taste buds and stomach were in ecstasy (and to hell with my cholesterol!).

The outdoors chef was my dear and beloved Richard Tienhaara.


I met Richard and his family members back in my Fitchburg days.  I was the Rector at the Church of the Good Shepherd,  Richard (in 1978/79?) was a senior in High School, Off he went to what was then called Lowell Sate College (MA), and then to Clark University in Worcester.

There he met an equally beloved  (for me) woman, Elizabeth Martin, who became his girl friend, his fiancĂ©e and then  his wife.

I participated in their Long Island wedding in 1984.

Elizabeth's mother lives in Terra Verde FL, on the cusp of F D S P,

So we hooked up today.  WE were Richard and Elizabeth, two of their three sons (one with a girl friend in tow), Elizabeth's mother, and Richard's father (up from Naples FL) and his wife,

What a joy, what a blessing, what a privilege,

Richard and Elisabeth (whose home is in Holden MA) are evangelical Christians of the  noblest sort. (Hey liberal Christians, don't be so snotty about evangelicals!)

At one time today I chatted with Elizabeth and her mother.  I ventured  to say that Richard is a man of the highest integrity.  


Wife and Mother-in-law endorsed my opinion wholeheartedly!

In these days when integrity is undervalued, Richard and Elizabeth  are rare treasures and exemplars.

jmp. Elizabeth and Richard (1)

jmp, Elizabeth, and Richard (2)

It gives me great pleasure that my brother Martyn, his wife Wendy, and my beloved Mother have met Richard.

Thursday, 21 April 2016


William the Conqueror set a curfew (from the French couvre-feu or cover fire) at 8:00 p.m., which was widely adopted across medieval Europe. Though this was ostensibly imposed to prevent fires from catching while people slept, those who will have read "William I – 1066 "by Eleanor Farjeon will recall that it was more likely about preventing candlelit late-night public plotting. 

I hope that this is correct.  I "stole"it from a website some months ago.  ( I can't remember the name of the website!)


German imposed curfew in France, August 1944. (the month and year when my Uncle Albert was  killed in Normandy)

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

This, that and the other. (My Day)

I spent some time with my local attorney this afternoon to make sure that all my ducks are in a line regarding my death, burial, and the disposition of my estate,  (I do this about every five years).

I arrived early, thinking that my appointment was for 2:00 p.m, when in fact it was for 2:30 p.m.

Never mind, my Attorney needed a witness for another client's documents, I was glad to be there and to add my "John Hancock" as witness to the signature of a client I had never met before, and will most likely never meet again.   It's nice to be useful!


On 30th April  I 'll be officiating at a funeral for a deceased St, Boniface parishioner.  I have been out of this loop for many years so I've had to remember that I am not the "Priest-in-Charge at St. B's, and that I've had to get the approval from our Interim Rector for all the plans I am making with the deceased man's only child,

This is appropriate and fine -  just so long as I remember that I do not have the autonomy of a Rector or Priest-in-Charge.  I am a "Priest in Residence" who serves at the pleasure of our Priest, who necessarily defers to his his judgment,

I do this gladly, knowing that the Funeral service itself, important as it is, is but a precursor  to the on-going pastoral care with and for the bereaved daughter.


A new fracquaintance named John  moved from New Jersey about six months ago to be with his partner Rick.

John found employment in the shoe department  of a national Departmental Store at our local University Center Mall,    It was an "O.K" job  ---  just "O.K".

Last week he interviewed for his "dream job" with an I,T. company.  Yesterday he learned that he had been hired,

'Tis terrific,  Regular hours (unlike those at the Departmental Store),better pay, and super benefits

I am so very happy for John and for his partner,


As I walked Penne this evening we rounded a "blind corner" just as  woman came around that corner in the opposite direction.

She was with her  Maltese, the dog which Penne attacked last October.

Penne lunged in for another  attack. I was able to restrain her, and no damage was done.

But 'tis all very odd.  Penne is so wary of all  other  dogs, (except that  she is smitten  with Louis and Vuitton, , the two male standard Poodles we encounter most days).

I wonder "what is it about the wee Maltese which brings forth Penne's aggression?.


That's all for now

St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key, FL 


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The tender joys of being a Pastor.

Those of us who are charged with "the care of souls" are ever glad and awed to minister the good news of God in Christ at those tender moments in humans lives: birth, marriage, sickness and death.

In those time we are privileged to enter into the lives of others at a deep level  at their times of joy, anxiety, pain, sadness, and grief.

Last Saturday "something"  told me to visit J.S. as he lay a dying in a nursing home.  He was cogent and conscious.   We talked about his impending death.  We talked about what fed his soul  (it was music), I prayed with him.

J.S. passed from this life in the early hours of Monday morning.

J.S.'s daughter (A.S.T) is a priest and pastor.

When she received a call from A, that same morning, with the news that A's 61 years old father (D.L) was dying in Hospice Care, A.S.T knew that she simply could not  (in her very early grief and weariness) visit and pray with D.L., so she asked me to do so, (Fortunately I knew him). 

So it was that I twice visited and prayed with D.L. and his immediate family, (one daughter A) at Hospice yesterday (Monday 18th)  morning.  He died later in the afternoon.

Today I had the immense privilege of meeting again with A, her husband, and her mother. Together we made plans for D.L.'s funeral at St. Boniface Church later this month, and we prayed together!

Oh my God (I mean this as a sincere affirmation of faith), what a solemn privilege it has been for me to pray with J.S. on Saturday; with D.L. and his daughter A on Monday morning; and again this afternoon as we made plans for his funeral

The "care of souls" is joyful and awesome.


Two Notes

1)  At my first visit on Monday at Hospice, one of the CNA's  expressed her gratitude for my presence and prayers as a Pastor

She said "although I did not have the authority  to do so, I prayed the 23rd Psalm with D.L."

I responded "St.Paul did not say "call a Pastor when you need prayer",  Instead he said "pray for one another".  This CNA did the right thing!

(2) D.L. had been a tough-ass cop and a member of a SWAT team in Virginia.    When he retired to SRQ, and discovered the Healing Mission at St. B's he began to sob.

He said "in all my career I have been surrounded by very bad people".  "Now, as I face death, I am surrounded by good people".

Thanks be to God. 

I add  "in the midst of death we are in life",

For as the wonderful  Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a German anti -Nazi  pastor) said (immediately before he was hanged by the Nazis  with Piano wire).

"This is the end.  For me, the beginning of life".

Dear D.L. "This is your beginning of life! 

Monday, 18 April 2016

Who has known the mind of DOG?

When I adopted Penne some years ago, the experts at the Humane Society of Sarasota County advised that I should always enter my home first, and then invite Penne to follow me.

"This", they said, "would establish that my home is my territory, into which Penne is welcomed as a guest".

It's worked.  I have established a routine to which Penne has responded well.

We enter the porch, and I begin to chat to Penne.

"Take off Penne's leash" I've said.,

Then "Take off my shoes", and "open the door".

Once inside I have said "hang up Penne's leash" and "take off my hat".  At which Penne has entered my home from the porch, and raced to her bed,

That's been the routine for seven years --  until now.

NOW,  when I open the front door, Penne stays on the porch until I cajole her to come inside,

Once inside she stands firm by the front door until I urge and beg her to come all the way in to her bed , saying "Penne this is your home, you are always welcome here".

Then and only then does Penne relax and walk to her usual resting place.

Holy Scripture says "Who has known the mind of God?"

If you can figure that out then please, I pray you,   let me know "who has known the mind of Dog?"

My darling Penne

Sunday, 17 April 2016

When conscience leads a Christian to Prison

When conscience leads you to prison

It seems to me that disobedience to law on the grounds of religious conviction is perfectly appropriate, provided those who engage in such civil disobedience are willing to face the consequence of being charged and tried in a Civil Court, or by a quasi-judicial body?

Such was the case in my home city of Bristol. U.K for Walter Ayles, a Christian, a Socialist, and a Conscientious Objector during World War I.  Please read about this story here, and do take time to reflect on the transcript of the court room proceedings and Ayles' powerful  testimony.


See picture below.  Note how the U.K. propagandists during WWI  portray the German Solider as a blood thirsty brute, and the Conscientious Objector  as an effeminate ninny.