Yesterday I watched a man berate his grandson beginning with the line, "Son, you need to learn patience" while he (the grandfather) was actually the one who was being incredibly impatient. It would've been funny if it hadn't been so sad--one of those times where I had to bite back hard not to say anything.
Of course, I can be pretty impatient too. Perhaps you can be as well. I guess I think there are very few of us who wouldn't appreciate a little extra patience.
If so, I have the perfect way to develop it: Grow the dahlia on the left,Nick Sr. Here it is almost October, and this is its first bloom. And this bloom has been opening for over a week. Remember the old Heinz commercial with Carly Simon singing "Anticipation..."? Well, Heinz catchup has nothing on Nick Sr., believe me. Still, I think it was worth the wait.
BTW, the dahlia that is fully open is HUGE-- a full 10 inches+ in diameter. It's called Bodacious--and if you are in the area and are willing to be, uh, patient-- yes I should have some tubers available when I dig it up in a couple months. :)
OK, so maybe the sprinkler would be a little more accurate. Here's another one of those smallish yellow/olive/white-on-them-somewhere birds that seem to be so common these days. It's not bright enough to be prothonotary warbler, and there's not enough gold for it be a finch. So what is it? Other than very pretty, I have no idea.
What I do know is that it loved bathing in the sprinkler.
Some might ask why men climb mountains. I'd prefer to ask why men grow flowers. And here is my answer: in this life, at least, a flower such as this one is perhaps as close to perfection as we are ever going to come.
For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of….We don’t have enough exercise. We don’t have enough work. We don’t have enough profits. We don’t have enough power. We don’t have enough wilderness. We don’t have enough weekends. Of course, we don’t have enough money—ever.
We’re not thin enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough or fit enough or educated or successful enough, or rich enough—ever. Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something…”
“What? You’re raising a faggot artist now?” his uncle said jokingly to his father, pointing to a collection of his art that was plastered on the refrigerator.
Up to this point in his life, he had been a passionate artist. He was never happier than when he was creating art, and he was sure that this was how he would spend his life, painting and drawing.
But after that, his father who had always been neutral about his art, forbade him from taking classes. Even his mother, who had always been so proud of his talent, agreed that it was “a little too girly.”
He had drawn a picture of his house the day before all of this happened. It was the last thing he had ever drawn.
When I read this, it was so painful to me that I had to put the book down and could not go back to it for several days.
That Saturday morning we went to visit our older daughter at her new apartment. On the wall of their living room hung one of my younger daughter's pieces of art. Again I found myself overcome with emotion; I was so very glad to see it, so very glad others get to see it, so very aware of this brave and precious gift we were all being given.
Oh Dear Lord... may we never take the gifts of others for granted. May we never fail to recognize them for what they are. And perhaps most of all, may we never fail to support, encourage, and sometimes even stand up for those who are courageous enough to offer them.
Though the details remain sketchy, what I do remember is that he could not sing. And that he had been caught singing on tape.
His name was Paul Feinberg, a theology professor at the seminary I attended, and a dear, dear man.
When speaking at chapel one day he forgot to turn off his mike so that he was also recorded singing the hymns.
Somewhere along the line—and this is where my memory becomes unclear—that tape was played at another chapel poking good hearted fun at all our profs. I think it may have been part of welcoming new graduate students to campus, helping us overcome any sense of intimidation we might feel, inviting us to see our teachers as approachable human beings just like the rest of us, and reminding us that in the midst of intellectual rigor there was an important place for laughter. And laugh we all did. I was Dr. Feinberg’s TA, and I remember him laughing harder than anybody—that’s the kind of guy he was (a pretty darn Good Guy, actually!)
I am reminded of this because after the sermon yesterday, Matthew Harmon (who stepped right up in volunteering to video the service) said, “When we record music as part of the sermon, you need to turn your mic off.”
So if you watch yesterday’s sermon and wonder what that funny sounding deep voice is, no, that is not the band. That’s yours truly, just following in the footsteps of one of his beloved profs.
Today was one of those days that started out GREAT and then went on to just keep getting better. Well, in every way but one, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
When I first wrote this post, I listed all the ways that various people exceeded all expectations (and as I said, my expectations for the day were pretty darn high to begin with). But as the list grew it started to feel like bragging, and I tend to think bragging is always in bad taste. So I think I'll I just simply say how proud I am of the people at St. Matt's, leave it at that, and trust they know my heart towards them.
I would, however, still like to say a few words about the Bishop’s visit. In my 26 years as a priest, this was the first time that a Bishop hung around with folks after the service for more than two hours, as if she had nothing else to do and nowhere else she’d rather be. Except for the worker bees (those indispensable people who excel at helping exactly where help is needed, usually with little or no public recognition, and some of whom are pictured above), she was the last one to leave. When you love someone as much I love the people of St. Matthews, you want nothing more than for other people to see them like you do. In the way she simply sat and spent time with people, listening more than she talked, I got the sense she was doing just that. I do not think there is any single thing she could have done that would’ve blessed me (or them) more than that.
What didn’t go so well? My sermon! This was one of those weeks where there just weren't enough hours in the day, so I never got to work on polishing my delivery as I'd hoped. I mean, now that we are taping sermons and posting them on line for EVERYBODY to see, the last thing I want to do is mess up... which, as you've probably guessed by now, is exactly what I did. I think that what I can honestly say is that even after almost 30 years, preaching still has its challenges, and that those challenges keep it... interesting!
Yep, that's good ol' Uncle Matthew, the same guy who wails on the guitar at our 9:15 service and who now can bench press more than I can (never thought I'd see the day!) This was a Big Day--my Confirmation Day, just like it is tomorrow at St. Matt's at 10:30. Ray has written an original compositions, which is something to get excited about in and of itself. But we'll also welcome our new Bishop. And, of course, we'll be confirming 7 delightful people. They won't get to wear a long dress like I did, but maybe that's a good thing... (it's really a robe, actually).
If that's not your style, we do have both an Alice Cooper and a Beatle's song at 9:15 as part of our new sermon series, The Separation of Church and Hate.
And if that's not your style, we've got peace, quiet, and a deep sense of reverence at 8!