Tuesday, March 29, 2011

End of an addiction?

I've been in mourning since learning my Border's in Wilton was closing, slowly, excruciatingly. Now I find the ones in Stamford and Fairfield, which aren't close but for a book addict could be doable, are also closing. So I did a search of all the Border's stores in Connecticut, and all are closing except Farmington, Meriden and Waterford.

So that's it. I'm not likely to treck weekly to any of those places, especially with the price of petrol. I hate the Barnes and Noble stores. I loved the Border's stores. It's an atmosphere thing I can't describe. So, going to the book store and browsing for new mystery titles among my favorite authors, and then browsing in general, always coming away with something, will no longer be happening.

I'll save money, I guess - I spend over $1,000 dollars a year on books, - but it's hard being forced, cold turkey, into giving up an addiction - buying books, coming home with them in a bag, stacking them up on the floor and reading through the pile one by one. I'ts over.

I can go to the library, but they're not as addicted to murder mysteries as I am. It's slim pickings. I'll have to go every day if I'm to catch the single edition of new titles before someone else snatches them up ahead of me. Not likely, even though the library is just around the corner.

When I was a kid, I loved the library. Border's became my replacement for that library love. I could take a book off the shelf and read the whole thing if I wanted, though I never did. It was a place I could try out a book that had been highly touted and buy it, or not, depending. But I always bought something. Now it's over.

There's some irrational part of me that's outraged that it is Border's that is closing and not Barnes and Noble. "Why MY store instead of that tacky, incomprehensible one?" I cry out. Silly, I know. In the great scheme of things, it's nothing. But it's about not having any control over the things I care about, so I rage, a little, at the cosmos for the loss of this seemingly "nothing" part of my life.

At least I can do this one thing, I can avoid giving my business to Barnes and Noble. Not easy for an addict, but frankly, since the atmosphere of Barnes and Noble does not invite me, I may just be able to keep this resolution.

Rest in Peace, Border's. I'm off to the library.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What do people live for?

Here's an answer to the post below (as I was advised, pay close attention to the first caption!):

Now this is brilliant!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rhapsody in Blue

In the 1945 movie "Rhapsody in Blue", a screen story of George Gershwin, Gershwin is portrayed as a driven man, driven to write and play his music as though there were no tomorrow. Just before the Gershwin in the movie dies, he says to his brother Ira, "It's only through my music that I can prove I have a right to live."

Is that what we are trying to do with our lives - prove we have a right to live? Unpacking that for myself is best left to my private journal. But I confess, I admire most those people who appear to be lazy, but who are enjoying just being alive, whether they make a dime or not, whether or not they are successful, whether or not they are productive. There is a rebel in me that wants to live that way and there is in me an assertion that priesthood is about being, not about doing.

I don't know how I can make that shift to being and not doing in a culture, both church and secular, that expects a product in exchange for the money spent, a day's work and then some in exchange for wages paid. Yesterday I thought, the only way I can do this is to retire, live on what little I will receive and serve the church for free in exchange for housing and Sunday supply, on the proviso that housing is not wages for which work is expected and Sunday supply is so the people understand they have responsibilities.

The movie "Rhapsody in Blue" came out in the year I was born. There is that in me which I admit is trying to prove my right to live. Being a priest, instead of doing priesthood, appears to me to give others who admit the same about themselves and their lives the freedom to live for no other reason than that they were born and that, in God's good creation, that is enough.

Monday, March 21, 2011

All Clear - Thank you God!

Four years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 2007 was "the year of cancer".

This morning at 8:00 a.m. was my fourth annual follow-up mammogram, and ALL IS WELL!!!

"See you next year" she said! I can breathe again.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sermon March 20

Sermon March 20, 2011

The Reverend Lois Keen

Grace Episcopal Church, Norwalk, CT

Lent 2

Genesis 12:1-4a; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17; Psalm 121

Our bishop, Ian Douglas, tells us often that God has one mission in the world: To reconcile all humankind and creation to God and one another. Love God and your neighbor as yourself; do justice, love mercifully and walk with humility before God; love your enemy, pray for him and do good to those who persecute you – all these commandments are given in order that we might participate in and fulfill God’s one mission: the restoration and reconciliation of God’s good creation.

After the creation, after the fall, after Noah and the flood, God called Abram and sent him and his family out into the world. They had no road map; only a promise: “You’ll know where I’m sending you when you get there!”

Abram’s faith in this unknown God, Abram’s trust, was the foundation of God’s cosmic mission of reconciliation.

After Abram, there was Moses and the Law. After Moses and the Law there were the prophets. After the prophets, there was Jesus, in the fullness of whom God’s mission of reconciliation and restoration through love and mercy were made flesh and dwelt among us.

But most of humankind have been and still are like Nicodemus and the disciples – slow, thick witted, getting it wrong, but stumbling through in the dark anyway, sometimes with only a fraction of the faith of Abram and Moses and the prophets, but enough to serve to keep the light of Christ burning against all odds.

Sometimes it feels like there is still no road map, no light in the darkness. New Zealand was just the latest in a ceaseless string of natural disasters when their earthquake hit. Then Japan’s earthquake and tsunami topped New Zealand for horror and powerlessness against God’s creation. Haiti has hardly begun to recover from its earthquake and now, when they are about to have democratic elections, two formerly exiled dictators have returned to Haiti, “to help”, they say, but truly for God only knows what kind of mischievous reasons.

And in a string of mostly peaceful protests for freedom in the Arab world, Libya’s dictator has attacked his own people. Yesterday France struck the first blow to support a U.N. no fly zone by shooting down a Libyan bomber. The United States has joined in to protect France’s fighters. Meanwhile the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue and Harold Camping of Family Radio in Oakland, CA, tops it all by continuing to proclaim that the world will end on May 21st of this year.

Where is God? Where is God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation in all this? Are we still wandering in the dark without a road map?

Nora Gallagher was once sitting at table at Calvary Monastery in Santa Barbara, California with a young priest and a great bishop of the church, Daniel Corrigan. She writes that “Dan was in his eighties at the time retired, still strong as an ox. For most of his life, he had defied authority for the sake of compassion. […]

“As we were eating together, the young priest was suddenly overcome with earnestness"

“Bishop Corrigan,” he asked… “What would you die for?”

“Water rights,” Dan replied, without missing a beat.

The boy sat back in his chair. Dan smiled. “Why not?” He asked. Then he continued, “You don’t actually get up one morning and decide to die for something. You put your foot on a path and walk. One day, you look back, maybe fifty years, and say, “That’s what I gave my life for.” (Things Seen and Unseen, Nora Gallagher, as quoted on Anglicans Online.)

That’s what we continue to do. We get up each day and put one foot in front of the other. And while we may think we have no road map, at the end of 50 or 80 years we find that God has already gone before us. God does not leave us to figure it out alone – God’s Holy Spirit is with us and if we will, we can encourage our souls if we would stop, once in awhile, and listen – wait, and listen.

When I was working with young children in Delaware, I walked a six year old child home and I realized that I had no clue how to get back to the Cathedral. I was lost in all the left and right turns we had taken. The little girl said to me, “Turn around!” I turned around. She said, “You see that cross?” I said yes. She continued, “That cross is on the top of your church. Follow that cross and you won’t get lost.”

What other sermon ever has to be preached but that one?!

Regardless of the chaos in the world, despite Harold Camping’s promise that the world will end two months from now, the promise of life still stands: God so love the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall have eternal life. And the son came into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

Turn around. Look up. Follow that cross. You can’t get lost if you follow that cross.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Prayers please - Updated Saturday night

My brother Steve is the human caregiver for a rescued greyhound, King Charles. King Charles has just been diagnosed with Cushings disease. Steve has had more than his fair share of dogs who get killed or get cancer or other health problems. It's only been a year or so ago that Miss Utah died of old age and accompanying health problems. For some readers, he may be "only" a dog, but for me and my brother, these canine friends are family.

UPDATE: King's Cushings is under control with meds, but on top of it all, Steve is recovering from a bad ankle injury which is making it hard to take care of King.
Please keep Steve and King Charles in your prayers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Is it Spring yet?

The snow drops are up!

Well, they've been up next to the church for almost a week. But today snow drops were blooming in front of the rectory. I thought maybe I had forgotten to plant them last fall. The other bulbs have already put up their leaves. But as I walked by the rectory on my way to an appointment at Dunkin' Donuts this afternoon, there they were - little white dots all over the ground I had planted. Snow drops.

Bulbs in bloom are the best part of Spring.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Grand Prix racing

With the first scheduled Formula 1 grand prix race, which was to be run in Bahrain, cancelled, it seems a very long time waiting for a race. We're now waiting for the Australian grand prix which comes up in 12 days, starting with practice on Friday, March 25th, 10 days, 15 hours, 14 minutes from now.

The race will run at 2:30 in the morning here. I'll be getting up early for church that day! Thank God Padre Jose is preaching and not me.

Click here for the official website and the time clock, counting down the seconds before the race.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


After writing all that last night about not being a techy, and about my pc crashing, or in the process of crashing, I was presented with a late Christmas present - a new iMac. No more "snowball". No more external speakers.

The "computer" is in the monitor. You slide a cd or dvd into a slot in the side of the monitor. There is a second, little slot for the memory card from my Nikon digital camera. No more opening a port and plugging the (bulky) camera into the computer with a cord.

The manual is really a magazine - the coffee table type of magazine. I can actually find things in it. It has pictures - color pictures. So much for not being a techy...

...in one afternoon I have been catapulted into the 21st century.

One really cool thing - I can open things in the new computer and, if I want to, teleport it from there to a second monitor with one "swoosh" of the mouse - just like on NCIS! And I can work on the file there on the second monitor - which is actually what I need, but with the added attraction of being able to get the data from one computer to the other screen with that "swoosh"! I am using "swoosh" as a technical term.

I am exhausted now. I'm going back to the telly, with a plate of uncorned beef brisket which has been simmering in the oven for hours and is way fork tender, some cabbage and carrots also fork tender from the oven and some Irish mashed potatoes and apples. Mmmmm - now for a Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot or Midsomer Murder or Inspector Lewis (with the dishy Sargeant Hathaway) dvd for the evening. Bye bye!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I took down the post from two days ago when my pc died, crashed, whatever - when I opened it and everything was gone except the stuff that said to me, "Hi, I'm a brand new computer. Come set me up!"

I thought my post was a little over the top - "Bill Gates has a lot to answer for!" kinda thing.
Last night Newlin went to "My Computer" and saw everything was still on the hard drive, just not on the desktop or available. So he went to System Restore and it worked. But he recommended I not turn it off for awhile - remember it was fine at 9:00 p.m. Thursday night and at 6:00 a.m. Friday everything was gone. Thank you Bill Gates.

Anyway, this afternoon he had completed back-up and had just archived my emails on a disc when he found that Outlook crashed. I can still get my Yahoo! emails, but my Optonline.net emails are unaccessible. I have a link to them through my Yahoo! mail account, but Optonline is so unaccessible that so far they aren't showing up there.

So, what happened? We still don't know. I'm old. I'm from the manual, pre-electric, typewriter days. I got my first portable electric typewriter in college. Duplication was via the Gestetner or ABDick mimeograph machine that forced ink through a stencil that I typed on - you guessed it - a typewriter. You're lucky I have any success with this computer stuff. And the idea that the ministry of the ordained priest is doomed if I'm not hooked up just makes me want to curl up and hide.

This is the fourth time in four and a half years that a computer has crashed or otherwise died or sickened on my. That's a pretty high average, I think. But what do I know.

All I know is this: God called me to live as a person of prayer and study among people, whatever people God sends me to serve. I suffer the slings and arrows of technology. I do fairly well. But I am not happy with my average of cpu deaths to my name. I'm not happy that I rarely post on Facebook whilst my colleagues are posting multiple times a day and gathering a following. But I pray every day - multiple times, in multiple ways - and I study, and prepare sermons - on the computer! - and services of worship - on the computer! I visit the hospitalized and bury the dead, I counsel the joyous and the sad alike, and I try to broker a union between a congregation of English speaking people and a congregation of Spanish speaking people because it's the right thing to do.

So you'd think the technology dwarves would cut me a break.
A big break.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Not yet

The new iPad is here. It is faster and has two cameras, one front and one back. That's one more camera option than I have on my iPhone. But still no phone option on the iPad. So, until then, I guess I'll just struggle on with my iPhone whilst coveting the larger "keyboard" on the larger screened iPad.

500 days off Purgatory for the person who can link the new iPad with the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rebuild Our Cathedral in Haiti

The Reverend Mark Harris, of Delaware and the Episcopal Church's Executive Council, has posted this appeal on his blog to rebuild the Cathedral in Haiti as a beacon and a sign of hope for the people it still serves, even in its state as rubble. Click on the words "this appeal" in the previous sentence, and please consider donating any amount at all to this cause.

You have recently read that the Anglican Cathedral in Christ Church, New Zealand was called "the heart of the city". Cathedrals that serve all comers are just that. The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti is a diocese of our own The Episcopal Church (TEC) and so, this is our cathedral. Please help.