Friday, August 28, 2009

in brief...

...the latest news about Lucy is better than the previous bulletin, and her friends, family, physicians are cautiously hopeful.
Huge thank you's to "the preacher ladies on the Internet" for thoughts, prayers, and good wishes.
Be not weary in your welldoing, friends, we're not all the way out of the woods yet, but ... it's better.

Monday, August 24, 2009

prayers, please

Good morning friends,
If you would include Lucy and her family in your prayers this week it would be very much appreciated. And a few words on behalf of the staff at M.D. Anderson in Houston wouldn't be amiss either.
I thank you.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

blessedness is...

When you are all WORE OUT after a sleepless night and a super busy morning and a strenuous wedding; and you are facing into witnessing a wedding performed by Other Persons (and therefore All Wrong), and you are all hungry and weary, and your son-in-law having dealt faithfully with Pachelbel, Bach, and Mendelssohn in service of the wedding just past....

.... appears in your office bearing a plate holding one freshly baked scone, with jam and Devonshire double cream, produced by the MH &U tearoom downstairs.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

some days this is pretty much how it feels, and today is one of them...

more about books and other "stuff"...

The Rationale

Philip Slater
To own or possess is to monopolize the use of something permanently. Hence the need to possess betrays a degree of insecurity. Possession is a way of ensuring access to whatever it is we want to use or enjoy: we are so anxious that the object be there when we want it that we are willing to insist that it be there even when we don't want it. Thus we have food on our shelves when we're not hungry, clothes in our closets that we're not wearing, cars in our driveways that we aren't driving, and so on.

The rationale is that when we do want to eat, dress, or drive, we won't have to waste time looking around for the food, clothing, or transportation. This time saving is questionable, as we shall see, but it expresses the sense of urgency that lies behind the compulsion to possess.

Source: Wealth Addiction

I think this has a lot to do with "books on the shelf that I'm not reading -- but tomorrow or next day I might just want to"...

Monday, August 17, 2009

books (ever-lovin')

From time to time the DU enquires gently of me how many bookcases I have in this office.

The answer is always the same -- "about five."

"And how many of them are full?"

"Well, all of them and there are some stacked..."

"And tell me, Mom -- where are they going when you move out of the office? Cuz they're not going on the floor in cardboard boxes..."

My problem is -- that I learned to read. No, sorry. My problem is that when I want to read a book, I buy it. And then -- since hardly anyone writes just ONE book, it makes sense to see what else the author has produced, and acquire that, and then one might as well make a push for the entire oeuvre, pronounced "OOVER", and then the curatorial instinct kicks in, and the thought of the books, so painstakingly collected, being dispersed and vanishing away is sheer heartbreak.

Be that as it may, I don't have shelf space at home for the books I have at home, and I'm proposing to run 5 additional bookcases-ful, minus the bookcases, into that mess? One understands DU's concern.

I had got this far into the conundrum when I reflected that I know a considerable number of inspiringly bright young theological students... and in special particular the bright-eyed DU of former Marvellous Rector and Best Boss, now Marvellous Bishop. Said DU currently sweeping all before her in her studies and a candidate for ordination.

And the heartbreak just went away. She was here yesterday with her Mom and Dad, and went away to begin her final year of studies with a large box and two carry bags full of books.

And if it hurt at all -- the hurt was more than done away by the glee of saying, "And you'd better have THIS while you're at it..." and hearing her squeaks of "Are you serious? Really?"

I think that may well be all I have ever had in the way of gift or bring books to people and people to books.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


and hoping to see friends who were in transit thro' the vicinity today.

contemplating this ugly desk and messy office and ghastly task list.

weather is highly seasonable, for, say, mid-October. Furnace came on this morning. Fog.

Well...I'll do clean-up whilst I'm waiting, I guess. I had 72 whole hours this week when I did not enter the church -- would this be equivalent to 3 days' sobriety, perhaps?

Monday, August 10, 2009

well of course

(Not actually the Rambler's cake.)

The term I was groping for in the preceding post was, of course, TRANSFIGURATION.

As I was reminded, the day after posting.

So nice to be able to celebrate the Transfiguration on its own special day, rather than one of the other 16 occasions in the liturgical calendar where it is FOISTED upon an unresisting flock by the sinister junta who assemble our annual Order of Service.

Transfigured, that was the word. And the closest we can come to realizing it most of the time is in, however awkwardly or unbecomingly, getting "all dolled up."

No doubt I could have remembered "transfigured" if I were not so extraordinarily OLD. Yes! in fact, yesterday, I became truly and officially OLD.

I confess I am enjoying it. There was nothing about being a young woman that I would like to by some sort of law of compensation I am anticipating that being an old lady is going to be a hoot.

We enjoyed about an acre of cake after church, thanks to the offspring...and parishioners said delightfully kind things...and entered into the spirit of the occasion with excellent and thoughtful presents like SPENDABLES (books, meals, movie tickets) and Rowdy Red nail polish.

Delightful greeting on FB from a high school classmate and co-aeval, proclaiming, "Think of it, Rambler! CASH FOR LIFE!"
Preached yesterday on Jesus as bread...entertained the comment that the sermon amounted to a commentary on the Eucharist (not a criticism, an observation).
And I recalled the recent prelate of another obedience in this region whose word on preaching was something like this:

The whole purpose of the sermon is achieved if you can get the congregation on their feet and moving toward the altar rail for communion where Jesus can get at them.

I have taken such comfort in that!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

words to live by

About four years ago I encountered an organization that I'd never heard of before. At the end of the day on the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul I was in the Trastevere district of Rome to attend the Evening Prayer service of the Community of Sant'Egidio, which you can read more about HERE. It was an amazing evening for a great many reasons, and I've checked into the Community website from time to time since then.

Last winter sometime I found a wonderful phrase cited as the slogan for one of the Community projects (I think it was an art show): "Abbasso il grigio!" Or, anglice, "Down with gray!"

It has stuck with me.

Not just in terms of my own feeling about the colours of cars, as I was mumbling about yesterday, but about a great many other things.

And one of those other things is liturgy.

The topic comes bubbling up in this locality, generally, when we have had a particularly ornate diocesan service such as an ordination. "Too fancy, too long, too elaborate, (occasionally, too much smoke), too much music, too many vestments..."

It's hard not to hear, in these complaints, "too beautiful" -- "not gray enough."

I recall vesting in close proximity to a colleague who expressed intense bitterness, sotto voce, at the splendour of some of the vestments. I think it was the Canons' and Archdeacons' copes that set him off specifically.

"I just hate all this fanciness and dressing up," he said, "because after all I'm just a Humble Pastor, myself."

I couldn't think of a single civil reply. What I'd have said if I could, would have been, "And what's the point of all that humility, eh, Reverend Heep, if NOBODY SEES AND ADMIRES IT???

But that might have been construed as unkind. Because it would have been.

The usual somewhat diffident defence for "fancy and beautiful" in our celebrations goes something like this, "well at least I suppose it shows people that we think the things we are doing are important." And then the special celebrations are compared, not always to their advantage, with the "humdrum everyday" realities of parish ministry -- including, I think, parish worship. In other words, "il grigio."

And I think this is a profound error. I would argue that "fancy and beautiful and complicated and impressive" is not a misrepresentation of the reality of what we do in ministry but a reminder of the reality of what we do in ministry and of what we ARE in ministry. Or of what we will be (which does not yet, as we are told, appear). Because those realities truly perceived are all splendour.

And that if I am prone to being struck dumb with awe at the sight of Archdeacon Stoopnagel's Sunday-best cope, or at the sound of the cathedral choir giving Wm. Byrd a run for his money, then that is a happy foretaste of how the good Archdeacon will look to everyone, and the cathedral choir will sound, sub specie aeternitatis. I say "Fie" (I do, too) on a professed humility which is no more than carnal envy and spiritual pride and probably acedia as well, all in sneaking and slinking mode.

So let's dial up the "hue" of what we do.

"Abbasso il grigio!" You -- possibly! -- heard it here first.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

back at my desk.

"Adelaide Hoodless" her own self.

I can't decide what to turn my hand to this morning.

Came into the office in good time and had a lengthy consult with the team of senior gentlemen now engaged in hanging the new presence lamp in the sanctuary. Preliminary efforts have resulted in the (probably inevitable) shattering of the red glass 'chimney.' No injuries, thank goodness. Thoughtful looks on all faces, and a decision to swing by the church-supply store, "and maybe actually we should pick up a COUPLE of them, just in case."

The women's auxiliary of the senior gentlemen is increasingly anxious to have this installation completed. The nightly spousal tossing and turning is getting old, they report.

Some emails, some face to face consulting with other folks, some phone calls.

Discussion with our garden-maven volunteer lady about a suitable Farewell Gift to MH & U on the part of the Rambler. We are actively considering the array of Hardy Canadian roses...a beautification and a security measure all in one, as the police never tire of telling us, "No perp can possibly lurk IN a rose-bush. CAN'T be done..."

And we have a stretch of ancient brick wall with good sun-exposure that could probably be an appropriate backdrop for a nice row of, say, the Canadian Explorer series of hardy a range of colours (see above, e.g.) other than the Lowest Common Denominator Pink that seems to prevail elsewhere.

Speaking of colours: it has seemed for some years now that cars -- at least as they are marketed hereabouts -- come in a most restricted palette: black, white, dirt, dun, and duct-tape grey. This, at length, oppresses the Rambler's spirits. So it is a pleasure to see what appears to be a general intensification of HUE...we've always had a certain amount of red, but I see more and more taxi-yellow cars, quite a lot of's not enough to keep the mind alive, granted, but it furnishes amusement at stoplights.