Saturday, 26 November 2016

He always was so grumpy.

"He"  is a man who walks his Scottish Terrier in the neighbouring community of Glen Oaks Manor.

He, the man not the dog, would scarcely acknowledge my cheery greetings.

That was until about two months ago when, out of the blue, he ventured that his wife was a chronic alcoholic, and that life was tough for her, and for him.

A few weeks later I asked this comparative stranger the awkward question "how is your wife?"

"She is in Hospice" he replied.

I uttered/muttered/spluttered some "comments of the pablum type", whilst trying to convey my belief that advanced alcoholism is a deadly disease, and that I understood his pain, his anger,his frustration.

I simply do not know him well enough to have a deep conversation.

Maybe he did not need such a conversation with me.

I saw him and his dog on Thanksgiving Eve.  I had no idea whether or not his wife was still alive.

I asked "do you have plans for tomorrow?"

He replied "I have been invited out for dinner with friends but I will not go.  I'll stay at home with him"  (pointing to the dog).  It was clear that his wife had passed.

I hardly know this man.  I understand why he has often been grumpy.

I crossed a boundary (we hardly know each other)  on Thanksgiving Eve and said "I think that's for the best".

The popular song says "Oh there's no place like home for the holidays".

What bull-crap!

For so many people the "holidays" are times for fake joy and paralyzing sadness.

I think especially of my sister-in-law, her children and grand-children in Bristol U.K.

"Home" will be a sad and lonely place for them as on Christmas 2016 they continue their deep mourning for my brother Steve.

I know this, because I am still so damn angry that he died so suddenly, and at such a young age.

Those difficult discussions.......

...........  Helpful words via my Jamaica Plain, MA friend Tess P.  (Thanks Tess)

"I read this recently and thought it well worth sharing.:
"I just wanted to share a conversational tactic that has worked for me over many years in responding to passive misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc.. especially useful in the workplace, a simple statement: "You're not talking to somebody who shares those beliefs."
It draws a clear line, is not engaging, argumentative or combative, and can steer the conversation back on track, liberates one from being a passive participant in hate speech."

Thursday, 24 November 2016

A hymn at the end of Thanksgiving Day

The hymn was written in a pre-modern, pre-scientific age.  But I love Gerhardt's words as he (and we) look up at the night sky:

Now all the heavenly splendour breaks forth in starlight tender
from myriad worlds unknown,
and we, this marvel seeing, forget our selfish being
for joy of beauty not our own

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

A great hymn for Thanksgiving - all too rarely sung

Enjoy the hymn here

For the fruit of all creation,
thanks be to God.
gifts bestowed on every nation,
thanks be to God.
For the plowing, sowing, reaping,
silent growth while we are sleeping,
future needs in earth's safekeeping,
thanks be to God.

In the just reward of labor,
God's will is done.
In the help we give our neighbor,
God's will is done.
In our worldwide task of caring
for the hungry and despairing,
in the harvests we are sharing,
God's will is done.

For the harvests of the Spirit,
thanks be to God.
For the good we all inherit,
thanks be to God.
For the wonders that astound us,
for the truths that still confound us,
most of all that love has found us,
thanks be to God.

Words: Fred Pratt Green

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

So let me get this straight

The Dakota Access (oil) Pipeline is to be routed through the Sacred lands and burial places of Native Americans, under the Missouri River, and through rich agricultural lands,.......  so that Americans in their SUVS and enormous Dodge Rams can travel to  

rivers and streams which are polluted with coal ash and mercury

* lakes and large fishing ponds which are dead and dying from algae blooms due to the overuse (or unwise use) of phosphates in fertilizers

beaches which are disappearing due to rising sea levels, 

off beach waters (Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico) which are not swim-able because of  red tide pollution.



And of course, oil pipelines are utterly safe and never fail or leak.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Church and all that stuff

Not my congregation  - a generic picture of a Church.

If I have not love I am a Kazoo (St. Paul)

I have not been at my local Church for four Sundays.

The first week because I was the "supply Priest" at another congregation.

The second and third weeks because I was spending time with my family members who were visiting from the U.K .   Time with them was more important than time at Church.

Yesterday, well yesterday because I could not summon a compelling reason to be there.

Don't get me wrong.  I attend a "Lake Woebegon" parish where all the people are above average.  We have a solid and like-able new Priest in Charge.  The Word is preached with dignity and respect.  The bread and wine are shared with reverence and joy.  It's a pretty good place to be on Sunday mornings.

Yet, yesterday nothing drew me there.  I had no sense that life would change much, or that my faith would be enriched (or challenged)  whether or not I attended.

The "problem" is not with my parish.  To those readers who know the congregation whereof I speak -  please know that this is not a critique of that place or people, or leadership  FAR FROM IT.

The issue is that the older I get, the more earthly minded I get.  

At aged 72 I am not much concerned with heaven hell, eternal life and all that.  I have no need to be concerned because my future is out of my control, it is in the hands of a loving, just and gracious God,

But I am concerned with the generations which are to come: for instance my nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews, forty three of them)

I worry more about their earthly future than my eternal destiny.  

Will they live in a world with massive food and water shortages? (that's almost certain). 

Will they live in a world with autocratic and oppressive governments? (it's already happening).

Will they live in a world torn apart by racial prejudice, injustice and violence? (it's already here).

Given my gloomy prognostications, rooted in fact as they are, it is hard for me to believe that "the Churches"  whether Evangelical, Liberal,or  Conservative  (i,e, not just my parish and my denomination), are able or willing to prepare people  for the incredibly dangerous world which awaits us and our heirs,

To the contrary I find that the chief concerns of most religious congregations (Christian, Jewish, Islamic etc) have to do with survival and self preservation.

That is not compelling for me, that's why nothing drew me to attend Church yesterday.

Of course I will probably  be there again soon,  out of a sense if loyalty and appreciation to my Pastor , and deep personal affection for many other members.

But I can understand why many people break free from the habit of Church attendance, not because they no longer believe, but because the message of the Church is all too often akin to the blowing of a Kazoo in the Music of a great and rich Symphony.