Saturday, 23 February 2019

Cambridge, MA connection in Sarasota FL!

My ministry as Rector at St. James's, Porter Square, MA was enriched by two terrific colleagues (they happen to be married to each other),  The Revd. Laurie Rofinot, and Patrick G. Michaels.

Patrick "Pat" was (and is) the minister of music par excellence.  He taught me so much.  Laurie joined us as the staff member for Christian Education.

Pat is enjoying a sabbatical leave.  As part of that leave he and Laurie are spending a week at Ft. Myers Beach, and will take time to explore the Everglades.

But, before Ft. Myers Beach,  they spent a night in Sarasota, so that we could have a joyful reunion.

On Friday 22nd we "visited" at my home before they took me out for a wonderful dinner.  We were at one of the most authentic  Italian Restaurants in town (Cafe Baci) - and we raved at the wonderful food.

This morning I was the host for breakfast at Sarasota's  Amish/Mennonite restaurant  "Der Dutchman".  The breakfast buffet abounded in delicious and greasy "farm food".  Just the ticket once a year!

Sarasota has a (either year round or snow bird) population of Amish folks.  The snow bird population peaks at this time of year and our Pinecraft area is filled with Amish people of many stripes, not in horse and buggy, but on bicycles and tricycles.

"Der Dutchman" was filled with these good folks this morning, so I told Laurie and Pat that they we having an ethnic feast!

Eating at a common table brings us together, so my meals with Pat and Laurie had a quasi-sacramental quality.

We rejoiced to be together.   And they like Zion!

Pat, Laurie and Zion at Der Dutchman

Cafe Baci

Thursday, 21 February 2019

PLEASE take 13 minutes to watch this powerful video. PRETTY PLEASE

Please take 13 minutes to listen..... this most powerful, honest, truth telling and healing address by Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, delivered at the Washington National Cathedral last Sunday, 17th February.

PRETTY PLEASE AGAIN!  IT'S DAMN GOOD STUFF  for many reasons, and in particular for those of us who live from time to time with the black dog of depression.  

As Mr. Gerson says, we are those who are " Staking (y)our life on the rumour of grace".

Here is the video.  It spoke deeply to me!  Watch it.  Pretty please again!

Thanks to Noel B for the tip off on this

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Maybe God Is Testing Your Faith

I have an acquaintance who is  a member of one of Sarasota's largest Fundamentalist/ Evangelical churches.

This man is a gentle, decent and sweet man.  There is nothing not to like about him.

He and his wife have a son who last year was admitted to one of the most prestigious engineering/aeronautical Colleges in Florida. Kudos to this young man.

Two days ago I asked my acquaintance how his son was progressing in his academic studies.  Dad told me that his good son was struggling in some areas of study -  especially calculus, and had texted his father for help.

The father, my acquaintance, told me that he had texted his son back to say (in so many words)  "Pray and trust God. God opened the door for you to be at that school, and he (God) must have his reasons for you to be there. As for your difficulties with calculus, maybe God is testing your faith".

"Bloody hell"  as we might say in England.  This is exactly the theology which drove me away from the evangelical theology  of my youth and early adulthood. 

It raises these questions:

1)  re:  "God opened the door for you to be at that school,"  

does this mean that God also closed the door for the scores and hundreds of equally well qualified applicants? 

Is God the super-dooper celestial admissions officer?

2) re:   "As for your difficulties with calculus, maybe God is testing your faith".  

does this mean that a struggle with calculus is God's will?

Is God in charge of the tests and exams in American (and other Colleges) ?

Fie on such a micro managing God.

Monday, 18 February 2019


I am to have a C-T scan on Tuesday 19th at 10:30 a.m.   The appointment was arranged by the staff at my Vascular Doctor's office, whose print-out specified FASTING.

This made me grumpy. Wot,  no early morning coffee?  Wot,  no breakfast. Grumps and yet more grumps.

A staff member at Sarasota Radiological Associates ( the clinic at which I'll have the procedure) called this morning to remind me of the appointment.

She said "Remember to fast, no food or drink after three hours before the C-T Scan". 

Whoop dee do!  I'll be able to have my 4:15 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.coffees.  I'll be able to enjoy my 6:30 a.m. breakfast. 

Life is yet  again wonderful for this dyed in the wool, routine obsessed old bachelor!  No more grumps!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Thinking of Penne - two years on.

It was two years ago (Feb 17th)  that I said a sorrow-filled good-bye to my darling Penne, a friend for many years.

Oh what a darling she was.  She liked other people  (especially my friends Bob L, Den N, and Ed G.)   She did not care for other dogs.

I had to say good-bye to Penne  when the pain from the fused discs in her spine made her comfort impossible.

I cried for three days after her death.

Then came my dear Greyhound Ben. He was with me for a few months.

Ben was a good pal.  I can still feel his gentle nudge on my left hand as  we set out on our walks.  But his separation anxiety was so awful (and destructive) when I left him alone.  After a few months with me,  Ben was re-homed by the Racing Dog Rescue people in a home with another Greyhound where is is doing so well.

Next came Izzy a Catahoula Leopard Dog, also with me for but a few months.  

We bonded deeply and she would still be with me, save for the fact that she saw my female cat as prey and was determined to do her harm.

Izzy, a hunting dog, now has  home east of SRQ on a farm.

Back in January 2018 Zion came to live with me.   

As you know, Z. and I are joined at the hip.

But two years on,  I still miss his worthy predecessor Penne who left me two years ago today.