Starting over all over again

I spent some extended time this morning in a shared space dominated by a young woman with a relatively loud voice, a heart full of enthusiasm, and—I have to say—a huge lack of self-awareness. Apparently under the impression she was talking to the woman next to her, she regaled all present with an account of the preparations for her imminent return to college, about which she is extremely excited—“because it’s senior year”—but also a little apprehensive—“because, you know, it’s senior year.”

One of the things she’s anticipating most eagerly is taking a journalism course and “preparing articles for the student newspaper!!!” (And the quote wouldn’t accurate without all three exclamation points!!!) Which brought back fond memories of my own days as an ink-stained student wretch.

Coincidentally it happens that that this delightful reminder of those days arrived yesterday by email from a friend and former colleague. This two-page special edition represents my sole venture into sports writing and editing (as “Sports Editor-in-Chief for this issue”). Though I remember working on it, I really can’t imagine how I managed to write the lede article, since to this day I personally know nothing about football. Life continues to be full of surprises.

Which I guess is what struck me most forcefully as I listened. I admit to feeling just a twinge of envy—oh, to be young again! And yet the thing I know now, what this young woman won’t realize for some time to come, is that “senior year” isn’t just a one-time phenomenon, at least metaphorically speaking. It’s something that’s likely to happen over and over again.

Forty-five years after my own departure from college, I’m amazed to realize how often I’ve found myself in that liminal space between what is now and what will be next, feeling anxious excitement about what might lie ahead, along with a bit of regret for what I was leaving behind. But regrets or no, we keep moving forward into the unknown, waiting until future possibilities too numerous to imagine settle into just a few that will prevail, at least for a while.

Until it’s time to graduate all over again.

Hungry for bread

Preparing to preach the bread of life for the last time this cycle, I’m thinking I’ll probably use this story (a-guide-dog-at-holy-communion.html) of a blind man who is led to the communion rail every Sunday by his guide dog, a labrador, who sits patiently gazing at the altar while he waits for the man to receive his bread and wine.

“They are good dogs,” the man agreed. “Their respect for food is very deep. That is why he understands the eucharist. He grasps it not as an idea but in its real depths. It is food. He knows that.”

And then I took a walk and reminded of other creatures who are hungry for bread.

And of my brothers and sisters who are just hungry.

food pantry

Head to head

Still another sweet vacation photo. I really like this one. 
I loved my aunts dearly when I was growing up. They lived far away and we didn’t see them often, but when we did, they totally spoiled us. Many years later I was shocked to learn that our cousins, who also lived far away but in a different direction, had all those same experiences and thought of those aunts and the toys and special places in that house as “theirs.”
It was like discovering that there really is a parallel universe, where other people are impersonating you and claiming what is rightfully yours.

Persistence

Still processing some photos from vacation. This formation, called “The Basin,” is the work of 25,000 years of persistence. It’s 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep and, presumably, getting bigger all the time as the Pemigewasset River continues its labor of grinding down resistance. Water is soft and hard, chaos and destruction, peace and sustenance. It’s life. They say we’re more than half water. Makes sense.

Witness

Sometimes my job is just to witness. Sitting in my office, dealing with details before the start of our weekly healing Eucharist, I overhear one soul telling another, “God loves you!” Not knowing this person, unaware of the deep need to hear just these words. Grace upon grace.

“I still live with my parents”

In some ways we all do, right?

I am the child of parents who taught me among so many other things to live my relationship with God by doing what I can to make the world a better place. I’m still working on that.

A sermon for the eighth Sunday after Pentecost

“I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter,” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately Herod sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother.[1]

That’s the climax of our reading from Mark’s Gospel for today, the end of a long and detailed account of the execution of John the Baptist.

The word Gospelmeans good news—Mark gives us those words in his very first verse—but it surely is hard to find the good news in this story.

There’s no good to be found in the scheming of Herodias, who wants to get rid of John because his persistent criticism of her marriage to Herod is a political liability.

There’s not much good to be found in Herod himself, though he seems to have some regard for John.

But he doesn’t want to lose face in front of the rich and powerful of Galilee who have gathered to celebrate his birthday, and so without hesitation he sends an executioner with orders to return with John’s head on a serving platter, and his command is promptly accomplished.

That doesn’t seem like good news, not at all.

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Lived, loved, & laughed

What words would you choose for your tombstone? I was taking some pictures at Washington Crossing National Cemetery, and I noticed that there isn’t much room for inscriptions on these military tombstones. “Beloved husband, dad, granddad.” “Never forgotten.” “Forever loved.”

I decided the one on the lower right is really my favorite: “Lived, loved, & laughed.” John Gillis, I think you had the right idea.

Elusive

Fireflies. I tried for two evenings to get this photo, and I’m still not entirely satisfied.

At dusk they appear to be everywhere in our yard, but it turns out they’re everywhere except in the place where I point my camera, wherever that is. Meanwhile, the invisible mosquitoes really are everywhere; worse: they all seem to know exactly where I am.

Funny how some things can be found only where you’re not looking for them, while others manage to find you even when you don’t want to be found.