Archive for December, 2013

Almost seven years ago, I found a sprig of holly, a seedling probably, and packed it up along with a host of other plants to come with us to Elsinore. This year, maybe, I could clip a sprig of holly from that tree, without doing lasting harm.


The little cedars are now taller than I am, and there are at least three patches of winter aconite that should be showing up after Christmas.  The gingko now has the mottled, rough bark of a mature tree; juncos and white-throated sparrows hop-pop beneath the snow-bent asters; I could make a wreath of spent grape vines.

O the rising of the sun

And the running of the deer

The playing of the merry organ

Sweet singing in the choir

No garden, and few texts, are ever exactly finished.  But right now is a pretty nice moment, and this week should hold some even better ones.

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I’m just putting the URL here, because I really am supposed to be doing something else right now…

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….and I’d be just as uncomfortable as if I tried lying down.

Evil, evil cold, this….



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Word told me of someone she’d met at camp who would listen over and over to the song “Desperado” by the Eagles, listen and sob about how “it’s all TRUE!!!!”

It’s not clear to me what that meant, exactly, although there’s an age for many people when they feel terribly isolated and misunderstood. Of course, there’s the opposite position as well: the feeling that people are trying way, WAY too hard to get under your skin, and you would be much happier if they would deal with their own issues, rather than trying to fix, heal, or merge with yours.

One of the more difficult social situations is to tell someone who clearly cares a great deal that the way they are wanting to care is not the way you really want to be cared for.  Some people view any thwarting of their desire to intervene as just one more sign that you are broken and “just don’t see…”[I’m sure this theme will circle back again later.]

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There was a concert behind this door tonight.

The chapel was full of happy people, and the performance seems to have gone well.

My vocal chords, however, are protesting mightily , and I am trying to explain that bourbon is NOT the appropriate solution

Gin, then?

No, probably not that, either…

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Probably not as rough as some have had, and not as rough as some we’ll see soon.  But there are things that you do when you see they need doing, like standing in the late night rain with a sturdy oak staff — made from one of the remnants of limbing up the tree in the front yard — sloshing clumps of leaves out of the broad gutter in the alley.  Push, slosh the leaves out of the now moving water, twist, pull back and repeat. The air is black, silver drips from the edges of my hat, and the leaves are odd drowned colors — not at all the brilliant yellows and reds that they had a few weeks ago.

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The Railing Lamp saw it all

But it could never, ever tell….

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This might be winter, or it might be spring. It’s sometimes difficult to tell by just bare branches and temperature. Dem bones might be fixin’ to walk around, or maybe not.

20131203-164900.jpgI was thinking about endings and beginnings because I got word that a church where I used to attend Vacation Bible School had closed, due to lack of attendance. And, apparently, a lack of due process, because some of the parishioners showed up one recent Sunday and discovered locked doors to a deserted building.

Say what you like about Advent-only churchgoers, but that does seem a bit cold.

Or sad, or wearisome, or Another Sign of the Apocalypse ™…..

“Let’s go to Vacation Bible School!
Let’s go to Vacation Bible School!
Come along, we need you
Bring along your friends, too
We will learn of Jesus: He’s our Savior, Lord, and King!” (repeat)

A kind white-haired Mrs. was at the piano; Pastor S led the singing and the pledge to the Christian flag.  I found the Christian flag puzzling, since I never had seen such a thing at other churches I’d attended, and the pledge sounded much too much like the Pledge of Allegiance to the US flag (I haven’t looked this up, but I’m going to guess that these were written about the same time, and perhaps by the same interest groups).

There was singing, and a lesson of the day, and small group crafts, juice and cookies, and then back to a group sing-along, and dismissal.  I saw children that I didn’t see at other times of the year, even though this church was only blocks from my home.  Maybe it was because some of the kids were in Catholic school, or maybe it was because my family attended the same denomination, but at a location several miles away, where stone arches held ornate stained glass and the congregation was less suspended in aspic from the Eisenhower era.

The VBS didn’t talk about hell, or mortal vs venial sins, or Acts of Contrition, which I knew my Catholic friends heard about on a regular basis. Back then, church was a default, and the streets around all the houses of worship in my town would be blocked up with parked cars on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings.

Now, not so much. I know there was a shift at some point…when I started coming home for weekends and seeing that the streets weren’t clotted with cars.  …When I didn’t see wedding celebrations pouring down the steps almost every other weekend afternoon.  …When I myself moved near a church and then stopped going in on a regular basis. These things happened, and I’m sure there are explanations, if not good ones.

Sometimes I wonder if the constant sense of unworthiness actually kept people coming, and the switch from “You had better come talk to us” to “We would love you to come visit us” knocked the legs out from under the structure.  Or that parents now believe competitive sporting events will “do more” for their children than being in a community of people who raise money for missions near and far, or being in a place that teaches about rewards that do not come with a team banner or potential scholarship. [There may be sentence fragments here.]

Church attendance in many places has become generational, and I’m just in that cusp group that grew up with the custom, but with a majority of  friends who never saw the need, or went because they had to and then, well, there are other things to do on Sunday morning, other ways to give back to “the community”, other things to think about than the Divine.  So I walk in and people want me to stay, want me to be welcomed, and might even welcome me to the lectern… and I think: who is the target audience and where are they? Are the people who most need to hear good news ever even in the building?

Flip that over: what good is an empty building?  Imagine what could be done with a building and auditorium, given people who would take seriously the work of caring for the poor, the lonely, the lost…*

Well, for starters, the zoning board would have a fit, and the ever so nice neighbors would want it out of town. In which case, maybe the sepulchre should stay closed, as a witness to what isn’t working.

* to be fair, the functioning Church next door is really trying to do this

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Some old bits of pine were removed from the house structure recently, and the interior of this shattered bit just gleamed so nicely in the sun…

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Ever refrain from buying a chair because you aren’t sure the cats will fit on the back of it?

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