About Me

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Born a Texan, but traveled the US extensively.  Now staying on the East coast.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

mish mosh or have you ever wondered?

Wonder - a marvelous thing,
how much do you?
Not wander,
wonder about just about every thing.
I was told that such a thing is spelled out,
in Jewish literature as a gift of the Spirit,
i never knew...
But i ask questions
and i experiment
and constantly ask what if?
I have a lot of knowledge
and i shared everything,
when i worked,
but less so now.

I thought of writing a cook book,
not of how to do things,
but what does not work.
I see questions when people get colds and viruses,
i have answers,
answers that might surprise a person who knew my background...
a degree in chemistry, with a lot of biochemistry.
Working in a health department,
where traditional medicine was accepted without much question,
but i knew there was more.
Did you know the vinegar is the most effective substance,
i have tested against most dangerous bacteria
and that zinc does stop the replication of viruses
or that turmeric is a great anti inflammatory?
colored or greenish sputum is a sign of infection
and if it got that far,
you need antibiotics?
I take every vaccine i can and know it has protected me,
but the vaccine for the normal childhood diseases,
measles, mumps and chicken pox,
were not developed yet
and i lost hearing in one ear because of it.
I eat things that most people would not because it might make them ill:
raw oysters, rare hamburger, sushi, but i know my risk
and it is up to me to take them.

How is that for a variety post?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

perhaps i see things differently than you

The morning light,
soft and gentle,
caresses my eyes
with shadows that seem some what muted,
to my eyes.
The early light,
beckons me,
from my slumber
and calls me out of my warm bed.
I do not return during the day,
for the light of days,
tells me to come and play.
As afternoon comes
and shadows grow long,
they seem sharper,
than the noon day sun
and my eyes begin to cry out in pain.
No slumber yet,
but i might close my eyes
or remove my glasses,
to give relief,
from the pain.
I am awake,
but not for long,
for as the sun sets in it brillance,
I wince,
for darkness does not bring a reprieve,
yet i struggle on for a bit.
My mind,
now struggles
and my body feels the strain.
Only but a few short hours,
I am up
and slumber takes me,
waiting for the sweet caress,
for morning's light.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

he never took a course on preaching...yet

that is the priest at the small episcopal church i attend and yet each Sunday and when he speaks at a Wednesday service - what he shares is strong...

Matt. 4:1-11
Lent I
          The story of the temptation of Christ touches the heart of the matter of our relationship to God. It touches the point at which we are the most real, the most engaged.
          You know the story. Jesus is fasting in the dessert and tempted by the devil to 1) turn stones to bread, 2) jump off a high place and let the angels catch him and 3) seize power over all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus replies 1) “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God,” 2) “Do not put the Lord your God to the test,” and 3) “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”
          In the Gospel of Mark we are only told that Jesus was tempted. It is in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew that we have the temptations elaborated. This is a type of story seldom found in the Gospels. It is apocalyptic and fanciful. The story lacks the usual down to earth plodding of the parables or the Birth or Passion narratives where bits of everyday life stick out from a manger or the road. Whereas most of the stories in the Gospels are not of a form found much in other literature, this story would fit right in with an Arabian tale or even a Hindu story. Hence it is tempting to say that the story is not “real.”
          There is, however, a sense in which the story has a high degree of “realism.”  If you saw the film, “The Last Temptation of Christ,” you saw a film that strove for grainy realism. It was filmed in Morocco. Jesus walked grubby narrow streets and the Palm Sunday march looked like a Cub Scout parade. Because of the diminution of scale and the attempt for “naturalism” the film failed to convey that what was happening was of extraordinary importance. It changed the world. Big events require appropriate big tellings. You can’t say, “The Patriots won the supper bowl!!” in a whisper and have it make sense. You have to say it boldly.
          So it seems to me that the conversation in the wilderness between the devil and Jesus is quite real in its dramatic presentation. In Jesus God meets mankind right where it hurts, right at the point of temptation. Ever since Adam and Eve there has been the desire to “want to do things my way,” to see ourselves as the center of the universe and to measure all things over against our own needs. It is this tension, this conflict, that has dogged mankind, the Jewish people and people like you and me today. 
          This tension between being homeocentric and theocentric, self-centered or God centered, was dramatically spelled out in The Book of Job. Many of us are familiar with that story from Archibald MacLeish’s play J.B., which I’ve seen several times. Historically the story of Job arose out of the Deuteronomic theory in the Old Testament that if a person were devout and morally good, then he would prosper. If a nation obeyed God, then it would prosper. Hence prosperity was seen as a sign of God’s favor. Wisdom literature, of which Job is a part, on the other hand, said that unfortunately the good often suffer and bad people prosper. Why then do the good suffer? Why does God let good people suffer? Job is tempted to “curse God and die.” Job goes through horrendous loses and pain but refuses to curse God. The resolution of this conflict appears to be the answer that the nature of God in the universe and in life is to a large extent unknowable - beyond our comprehension. What we do know is that we continue to survive and to find new life and new beginnings and new hope. Part of the profundity of God, of the mysterium tremendum, is love. His never giving up on us and our renewal is a sign of God’s love. The love that we have for one another, for husband and wife, parent and child, for friends, although inexplicable, is a sign of the love God has for us. In the end, as MacLeish tells it, the answer is that there is incomprehensible, irrefutable love. The story of Job tells us that while you and I are tempted to renounce God, God does not renounce you or me.
          So temptation is the issue that touches us right on the psychic nerve. Now, I want to tell you a story. Twenty-some years ago I was celebrating the Eucharist at Courtland Gardens nursing home. Thirty patients were lined up in front of me in their wheel chairs and their walkers. They were in decrepit condition. Most slumped, some slept and a few gazed vacantly around the room. When it came time for my homily I discovered that the Gospel passage was about temptation. “How am I ever going to make the issue of temptation real to these old people?” In a moment of inspiration I remembered that during the early 1940s there was a song called, “Temptation.”  Hoping to use that as a way of getting into various areas of temptation in life, I started singing. “You came. I was alone. I should have known…” At that moment thirty patients snapped bolt upright and with gesture completed the refrain with, “YOU WERE TEMPTATION.” I was stunned. I tried to talk about temptation, but they all flopped over back to sleep or whatever catatonic state they were previously in.
          Upon reflection I realized that when I sang that song I brought them back to the 1940’s. That was when they were the most active, most engaged and most alive. Now they were in their late 70’s and 80’s. But back when they were in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s there were lots of temptations. Obviously there were the temptations of the appetites. There was the desire for gratification. Food or bread is of course one of those means of gratification. There is also the desire to feed the appetites of others. Surely that can be seen as a good thing. A chicken in every pot may be the slogan for a politician, but it is also the dream of millions of people worldwide. In our youth there are the temptations to do the impossible – to be a rock star, to be famous, to find the cure for various dysfunctions, to set a record in sports, academics or business. All of us dream of doing things that would test the ingenuity of angels. Most insidiously there are the temptations for power. Simply put, we all like to control things. In each of us there is an “I want to do it myself” DNA computer chip. You and I like to fix things. Sometimes we even want to fix others!
          The truth of the matter is that temptation greets us at all stages of life. We are tempted to feel sorry for our selves, to feel jealousy and resentment, to nourish grudges and hurts, to control our lives by being mean to others. When my mother-in- law was in Courtland Gardens, I used to watch the dynamics of the old ladies at the dinner table, as they would cajole, maneuver and bully one another. It was subtle, but clear and often cruel. The devil and temptation were very much at the table.
          Where there are the sparks of life and of choice, where there are those basic elements that constitute life in us, that is where the essence of our individual life resides. It is there, at the heart of the matter of life, the life of our lives, that the conflict with temptation exists.
          On the one hand, the story of the temptation of Christ tells us that Jesus was both human and divine. It is illuminated by our knowledge of the Passion and Resurrection stories. It continues the tradition of Job in which the most faithful servant of God is tempted and refuses to give in. At the same time the story goes beyond the theology of Job and points to a unique messiahship, which eventually includes the Kingdom of God and eternal life. By stating that man is sustained not only by bread but also by the word of God, Jesus reminds His audience that life is more than material possessions and earthly appetites. Moreover, by refusing to allow Himself to be born by angels after a jump into space, Jesus maintains that toying with God for magical relief violates the importance of faith. To seek spectacular, wondrous acts is to appeal to “do it yourself” magic and quick fix gimmicks. Finally, by refusing to seize power over the kingdoms of this world, Jesus rejects the dream of a messianic kingship and a new kingdom of bricks, mortar, blood and conquest. So on the one hand, the story of the temptation tells us that Jesus was both human and divine.
          On the other hand, the story tells us something else. It tells us that in Jesus Christ God has entered into the heart of the matter. He has entered into that place where there is the struggle in our hearts between choice and fatalism, where there is the tension between doing things  homeocentrically or theocentrically – man and woman centered or God centered. By being tempted and refusing, Jesus breaks the power of the Tempter. You and I are not doomed always to choose bread over the word of God, to choose the material over the spiritual. By God’s acting in Jesus, the spell is broken. The power of the extravagant exhibitionism of narcissism is stifled. It is by resisting the earthly crown of control, the desire to make small kingdoms in life and big kingdoms in the world, that the influence and appeal of earthly power is diminished and shown to be hollow.       
          The story of the temptation of Christ in the end shows us a God who speaks to the heart of the matter, to the heart of our hearts, and reveals Himself as one who enters right into the area where things are determined to be done and left undone. The story foreshadows the Passion and Resurrection narratives. Here we see Christ’ victory over self-centeredness (being homeocentric,) over materialism, over grandiosity, over narcissism and over the seductive power of control. Having defeated those temptations, Christ achieved victory for you and me over the stifling power of the temptations of self-centeredness, materialism, grandiosity and control. This story is a prelude. Later in the gospel story Jesus by His death and resurrection will break the grip of and emerge victorious over sin, evil and death.
          This lent do not despair. Do not feel captive to the temptations of self-centeredness, materialism, grandiosity and control. Their grip has been broken. You and I are called to work with God, valuing things spiritual as well as earthly, engaging in dreams and visions without tempting or mocking God, and enjoying the freedom found in being loved and in loving. In Christ you and I are offered the liberty of feeling safe and assured of meaning and purpose in the cosmos, in the world, in life and in our lives. This Lent be both honest with yourself and thorough in your self-examination. At the same time, relax. Like the old ladies in the chapel at Courtland Gardens, push your temptations to the past and sing, “You came. I was alone. I should have known. You were temptation.” The difference is, of course that you are not alone. Your old battles with temptation have already been won by Jesus Christ. Reach out and take God’s hand. Better yet, reach out and allow God to take your hand. Amen. – Fr. Gage-         

Friday, March 3, 2017

we are faced with our own failing daily

least ways,
i am.
Someone shared that someone,
who i had worked with died recently,
the name did not bring a face,
did not bring a memory.
It was not until the next morning,
the person's memories came to me,
this is normal...
mornings are good,
evenings bad.
Sometimes, i complicated my speech,
using many words when one will suffice...
it is a bad habit,
that seems to be more controlled as i write.
this exasperates friends.
The last New year's day of my mom's life,
I sad that she got to see 20111,
She responded in a way i was not ready for....
"and i am so disappointed!".
She was ready and there was no fear.

Monday, February 13, 2017

so often

so often,
i have to be reminded,
 like when the donkey,
spoke to  the prophet running away from his duty.
I have to be reminded just how much others mean to me...
It happened again,
some one spoke,
they were alone,
I am not.
They reached out,
because they went through.
something similar to me
and were concerned.
They were alone,
 but i am not
and i forget to be thankful
and grateful
and that needs to stop.
I live differently than most of you
and that is why i am not alone.
I have seen married couple,
live together alone.
I am not married,
but i am never alone.
I am thankful
and to reminded of that love,
is a truly great gift.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Smells and bells, today and yesteryear

i walked into church today
and there was an unmistakable aroma of incense.
It happens at times,
for this is a "high" episcopal church,
anglo-catholic by name,
but today, the incense transported me back,
to my childhood
and in my mind,
from those memories long ago,
two or three cantors,
sing songing words,
in a language i did not understand,
back and forth
and it was HOLY.
For those who do not know,
i was raised in a Greek Orthodox tradition,
but never learned the language.
Others filed in, remarking on the same incense aroma.
The service was typical
and mostly unremarkable,
save one song,
that i knew by heart,
from another Episcopal church in Houston,
and the sermon.
The song, memorized in my heart
from the services at the church of the Redeemer,
a renewed, charismatic, community traditional (?) church,
help me begin my spiritual journey.
The sermon..
Father Gage is not like most Episcopal priests,
as he puts it,
for he puts it plainly,
mocks the Anglican upiness
and talks about he and all christians,
saving souls,
in how we live
and speak
and have our being.

It was powerful to me.

Friday, February 3, 2017

i have been trying to understand

No, i never do "politics,

I love being with people.
I love being alone.
Are they truly opposites,
or simply different sides of the same coin?

I have accepted all the things that have happened to me,
even tho i struggle to accept the condition it has left me.

Some one read something to me,
from something i was very familiar with,
yet presented in a different way.
The story was of someone who was considered great,
Paul of Tarsis,
some 2000 years ago.
He had a handicap,
which is rarely spoken of
and the interpretation said he was thankful for this issue,
and considered it a gift.
That is too much for me,
yet the person who spoke these words to me,
has lived with a significant handicap,
all of his life
and i have struggled only 8 plus years.

A gift,
 that is running through my mind constantly now.

Along with other challenges to the way i think
or feel.

There is nothing more but growth in front of me
and i shall continue on.