Brother Adam writes about things that are irretrievably lost, except in memory, in his piece “The Death of Eurydice” in his blog.  You can find the whole thing here.  But to whet your appetite, here is where the penny dropped and he realized why he was resisting writing a piece: (more…)

My friend and colleague Zealand Hillsdon-Hutton died in the early hours of this morning.  He’d been assisting at St. George’s for years, and was a real godsend to me.  I will miss him. (more…)

The son of a couple who attend St. George’s died about a week ago.  He was 20 years old, and it looks like it was probably an accidental drug overdose (mixing alchohol and other drugs recreationally).  I’ve been wanting to address this, and didn’t know what I wanted to say.  This is simply tragic for him, his family and his friends (of whom there are many).  There is nothing that makes it alright.  But we do have to live with it.  And we will have to move forward from here.

My sermon for last Sunday, Mother’s Day, wrote itself once I started writing about a parent’s love and God’s love.  And, although it is not really about this death, the sermon does mention his death, and is really probably what I would want to say about his death.  So it’s about love and death and even something about my core beliefs as a Christian.

If you want to hear the sermon, you can find it here.  (The week beginning May 10 it’s the video sermon on this page.  In following weeks, it should be available in the audio links to earlier sermons.)  If you would like to read the sermon, it follows below: (more…)

Well, I’ve been on call twice.  And twice I’ve been called in.  This most recent time, I gave last rites to a 92 year old gentleman — who may have eventually recovered, I don’t know.  The regular chaplain follows up with this.  Anyway, he had pnuemonia after two surgeries (and seemed totally unaware that I was there).  His wife and family, however, were appreciative. (more…)

I said goodbye to a friend Saturday, at least in a matter of speaking.  Vin died earlier, but we held his service then.  In many ways, I think we’d been saying goodbye for some time.  He’d been dealing with some kind of dementia.  Dealing well — it wasn’t obvious at first.  And he was an interesting and caring man, even as he faded.  Then his wife, Goldie, his anchor, died.  And he was a bit more adrift.  And he had health problems, which wiped him out physically.  So we watched him fade both mentally and physically.  I think it was hardest on his daughter.  It was an ugly process.  Death, when it came, was a release for all of us, including Vin.

But I find myself wanting to honor his life.  He raised his family.  He served his country.  He traveled the world, sorting out production problems for his company, and meeting and understanding and caring for people.  He understood racism.  He knew it was a festering evil (though I don’t believe he’d ever use those words).  And he shared his experiences and wisdom.  He was solid and unassuming.  As far as I can tell, he was good at all the things he did.  I found him to be a blessing in my life.  It was incredibly sad to see him failing physically and mentally before he died.  It was an honor and a privilege to know him.

I don’t think I’m saying all this very well.  But there was real value in his life.  What he did made a real difference in many people’s lives.  And it would be enough, I think, simply that he had lived.

I happen to believe that he lives a new life, whole and complete again, with the God who loves him.  And I imagine him with his beloved Goldie.  Our burial office takes its meaning from Easter, from Jesus’ death and resurrection.  My sorrow (and even anger) at his death (and how he lost so much before he died) is real.  But I really do take solace from the fact that I believe he is now safely in God’s hands.

Simply, I find myself wanting to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Fare well.

Last night I started a new volunteer ministry:  I’m now an occassional on call chaplain for Kaiser in South Sacramento.  This means that on certain Thursdays (I specified I was available Thursdays so that, if called, I could sleep in on my day off Friday morning) I turn on my pager at 7 PM and leave it on until 7 AM.  If the pager rings, I go in to help with whatever pastoral situation wanted my presence. (more…)

I lost a long term parishioner this morning.  I joined his family around his body and we said prayers together.  I attended services for another long term parishioner in another congregation this afternoon.  Then I had coffee with a parishioner who is grieving various deaths in his own life.  He was trying to make sense of death and loss in his life.  So we got to talking.  Why do people die?  What could God possibly have been thinking?