Personal


You don’t always get … what you expect.

That’s true so often (in my experience) in our relationship with God.

But this morning I’m really only thinking about the service I attended at Trinity Cathedral (in Sacramento). (more…)

I’m attracted to money and the things that money can bring into my life.  I think most of us are.  Most of my life I was paid for my work.  It may not have been my main motivation.  I had another career started, once upon a time, that promised to be more lucrative.  Money has not been my primary motivator in discerning a call.  But I don’t think I would have done the work that I did most of my life if I had not been paid a living wage.

There was a time when my furniture consisted of a fold up mattress, a lamp for reading and some crates to hold books, and my clothing was limited and pretty much all hand me down or thrift shop (except athletic shoes) and I was perfectly happy.  Today I want (possibly even need) a comfortable bed to sleep in and a comfortable chair to read in, and my stuff (which once fit into a VW bug) easily fills a home.  That is a problem in retirement:  how do I move my old office into my home?

I found myself thinking about this after reading (in Celtic Daily Prayer):  “It is no sin to have wealth, but it is sinful to be attracted to wealth. (more…)

This has been my first Holy Week since I retired.  And it’s absolutely bizarre.  After some thirty years of planning and leading worship (and all the extra planning and sermons for the special services during Holy Week) I got to choose what services I participated in and where I worshiped.  I only led one (public) service all week on Palm Sunday.  I did the major offices of Matins and Vespers (mostly) at home.  I attended a Maundy Thursday service at an Episcopal Church.  I attended an Easter Vigil at a Lutheran Church.  I’ll probably say Matins in the morning at home.  It’s actually nice just to be there to worship.  Although, after some thirty years in the field, it’s pretty much automatic that you are critiquing every service you attend.

Maybe they shouldn’t let clergy attend services led by others!

But I find myself thinking that every three to five years all clergy should be required to attend someone else’s Holy Week and Christmas services.  Not everything was done the way I would have done it.  And that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing! (more…)

My clergy writing group resumed this past week, after some months off.  It looks like we will start a blog for the group to share what we do sometime the beginning of next year.  Until then, our prompt was two poems by Emily Dickinson related to facing death (one of which featured a fly).  This is what I wrote:

“I am of an age, now, when limits and mortality are in my thoughts with regularity.

I’m not sure when they were ever absent, mind you. (more…)

It’s been a while since I’ve commented on where things are today — I think since before February (when I passed two years since the surgery).  Not a lot has changed.  My weight (before morning shower) still hovers within about five pounds of 155 (after a high of 300 and about 265 the day of the surgery).  That’s where it’s been for about a year and a half.  I’m starting to believe this is stable (I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop).  My stomach still feels like a separate entity. (more…)

Some of you will still remember the song, “American Woman,” that still gets some play on classic rock stations.  I like the song fine, though it’s not one of my favorites.  (I prefer the version with the acoustic guitar lead in that then breaks into a harder, electric rock.)  It’s been running through my head for the last several days.  Knowing that we all read into what songs and poems and stories mean from how they connect in our own minds to our own lives, I’ve always heard this as a song about not settling for the standard work hard (at any job that pays well), care for your family and retire well thing that seems to run in American culture.  What’s important is being successful and comfortable.  Very possibly, that’s just me.

I think, if you’d asked me during my college days what the most important thing in my life was, I might have answered ending the (Vietnam) war.  Or I might have answered finding the meaning of life (I was a philosophy major) or figuring out God (I did become an Episcopal priest).  Or I might have answered my writing.  It would have depended when and in what context you asked me.

Did I want a real relationship with a woman?  Sure.  You bet!  But it might well not have been on my list of most important things.  And, in the context of making some woman happy by supporting her living the American dream, it was certainly not on my list of vital things to do with my life. (more…)

I’m not dying, I’m retiring (and looking for new work) because it’s time to move on.  But I was struck by a story (in Chittister’s The Rule of Benedict):

An ancient people tells us that when the moment of a great teacher’s death was near, the disciples said, “What is it we will see when you are gone?”  And the master said, “All I did was sit on the river bank handing out river water.  After I am gone I trust you will notice the water.”

How wonderful!

As a priest, it’s really tempting sometimes to get caught up in one’s own importance.  We often think we are indispensable.  But we are not.

To use the image in the story, what matters is the water — using Christian terminology, “the water of life,” which is Jesus.

If I have been faithful, I’ve handed out this water flowing freely past me to those who pass by thirsty — which is all of us.

But the water is there, and free, whether I am there or not.

I hope my congregation notices the water when I am gone.

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