Tuesday, November 24, 2009

hearing things...

Sitting in the office yesterday and listening...my office is an architectural Swiss cheese: a door into the chancel (actually to the East of the altar rail, affording a secured route for the offering plates and for the unconsumed Sacrament, at appropriate moments) -- a door into the General Office, habitat of Wonder Secketry and various gadgets and debris as best depicted by the immortal Dave Walker, passim; and a door into a kind of Miscellaneous Lobby/Vestibule containing storage cabinets, a wardrobe for vestments, and a giant cupboard known unaffectionately as "Queequeeg's Coffin" which holds the off-season dossal curtains and un-fold-able altar frontals etc. So people can run in and out of the rector's space fairly freely. And whatever is happening in the western two-thirds of the building is audible here also.

So I was listening. And I thought: "The people of God are about their work." The Practising Pianist was hard at it on the grand piano in the nave. She has added something new to her repertoire, and I was hearing the first tentative run-through of some ragtime... And the Old Guys That Fix Stuff were hard at it in the back entry, which is one or two or three storeys tall depending on where you stand. They were painting. This involved building some splendid home-made scaffolding, and lashing it enthusiastically to various comparatively fixed points in the structure of the building. The space has been a dismal institutional yellow as long as I've been here -- the upper reaches sooty and the lower parts grimy -- it is about to be a beautiful clean cream colour (at least temporarily!). And they were hooraw-ing and arguing with each other loudly and with great good humour. TBTG, nobody has fallen off any of the ladders, OR off the scaffolding.

A happy and comfortable moment.

Monday, November 23, 2009

back again

Sorry for the long-ish silence. It has been busy hereabouts, I have been busy, and struggling a bit with what I suspect is arthritis (possibly tendonitis) first in one hand and now in both. Thumbs. chiefly. Really simple-stupid things like buttoning up buttons have become, in every sense, a pain.

A reminder of a pastoral observation, though: that sometimes the best thing we can do pastorally is to hurt, and say so. It is amazing the number of arthritic thumbs this parish holds. And every single proprietor has advice and help to offer. Medications have been recommended, exercises have been demonstrated, and yesterday after the second service a parishioner bolted into my office and barked, "hold out your hand" -- when I did, she installed a most nifty little thumb/wrist brace, velcro'd me into it,l and said: "There! My doctor gave me this. I found I have a second one, so you keep this one, it is great when you go to bed, it holds your thumb in a comfy position all night."

Nothing left to say but, "Thank you, ma'am!" (not quite as pictured, but close)

Thursday, November 12, 2009


As Chorus pointed out in her comment on my last posting, we have indeed had very good poets on the strength here at MH & U -- good by any measure including the awarding of Major National Kudos (think: National Book Award equivalents). And we have had others -- writers of hymns, notably -- whose work is part of our treasure.

But what this group has in common is what distinguishes them from the baneful tribe -- they don't foist their efforts upon the Rector, but instead are markedly diffident about what they've composed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

the ultimate bane

I am distressed by the number of blogging friends who seem in the last recent while to have come to the parting of the ways with their parishes -- and not on friendly or peaceful terms, either. It is most sad. Also irritating--and stimulates my desire to "get mediaeval" on the parishes in question (I stumble about the office muttering, "burn that sucker DOWN... and sow it with SALT... and commit a NUISANCE in the ashes..." -- not really the Great Tradition in pastoral spirituality; but so it is).

In the last twenty-four hours, however, I have come on the total, ultimate, retaliatory curse upon recalcitrant, stiff-necked, hard-hearted, ungrateful, acting-out, terminally stupid parishes.

and it is this--this, friends, will make them rue the day they were born.


Now we've had a couple of innocuous specimens at MH & U over the years -- many of them very elderly, so that one can apply the Nonagenarian Factor to evaluations of their efforts; "Well, Gladys is SUCH a sweetheart, and SO brave, what with the arthritis and the yaws and all...it really is lovely of her to write us yet another poem about the dear Queen, isn't it?"

But I've run head-on into a far more virulent embodiment (rather like running into the edge of an open closet-door in the dark)...

The only comparable work I can refer you to would be the poetry of Emmeline Grangerford in Huckleberry Finn. Or, if you must have your "Canadian content" -- the oeuvre of the immortal Sarah Binks, Sweet Songstress of Saskatchewan.

Examples will follow. From the Binksiana. Stay tuned.

And may your parishes, if they love you, be safe from poets.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Monday morning at the old pop-stand.
The cleaning crew making at least token motions with vacuum cleaners and so forth. Our cleaning crew is a family business and I think it's the third generation at work this morning. If anything -- I fear -- they have even less ability to see that vacuuming must include the corners of the room than their "ancestors" possess.
However as regards decibel-output -- they're highly productive.

Which is somewhat rough on our daily piano-practising guest, working away at her recital pieces on the grand piano in the nave.

So far I have not found the rhetoric which will convey to the wielders of vacuum cleaners that they cannot actually vacuum around the feet of the person practising the piano. ("But all she's doing, is playing the piano for heaven's sake")

We "remembered" yesterday morning in good order with our usual guest trumpeter -- and the lists of names -- and a suitable display of poppies...

Wonder Curate preached and did very well.

We have had our first 'flu' fatality in the parish -- a young man who died very suddenly of complications, while travelling out of province.

I think we've moved into the saying-goodbyes phase of the retirement process here and in the Deanery. Clericus met here last Wednesday and my colleagues have given me a most sumptuous book -- Sibley's guide to bird life and behaviour -- not a field guide but a wonderful armchair supplement to the field guides.

we have a new phone system and a new photocopier and I don't know how to operate all of them...although I think they told me that if I were to phone the church and push the right buttons the phone and photocopier between them would sort my laundry, plan my menus, and presumably write my sermons also...it's all a matter of the right buttons.

The weather continues mild enough. I bought four new snow tires, on their own rims, at the end of October during a brief spell of snowy days. The snow all melted and now that I have the appropriate tires, it probably won't snow again until February. NOT THAT I MIND.

My work/sleep patterns are all to heck, so today for an experiment I got out of bed immediately upon awaking (5 a.m. approximately)and dealt with the mess in the kitchen and cleared a lot of stationery and correspondence of the dining-room table, removed the extra 'leaves'-- ran the dishwasher and a couple of loads of laundry, amalgamated and eliminated some clutter. (I'll probably topple over in a coma about 2 p.m.)

Tonight is the annual Bishop's Dinner so I need to schedule scooting home and donning festive raiment in the late afternoon.

I am thinking about our day-to-day practical ecclesiology...and may have something to blog later on this week.

We had a Marriage Preparation session this weekend -- I harangued the clientele on Friday evening on the parameters of their roles as worship leaders at their weddings -- and led a "workshop" Saturday afternoon on "spiritual issues" which is a very miscellaneous category. But energy was up and it went well; I can tell, when the participants lean over and pat me gently as they take their leave. It's most endearing. I'll miss it very much...

Am thinking that it may be time to foment a diocese-wide gathering of the parish knitters' groups... :-D.