Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Letter to My UCC Pastor Betsy

Dear Betsy,
I continue to read Marilyn Robinson (Gilead and now Home) and have found it refreshing to look at my theological roots. You asked once Why I go to church. I'm sure my reply was about finding the "peace that passeth all understanding" which dances around a personal need for the sacred - a search for meaning and something as paradoxical as being spiritually solid. 
In "Home", a powerful book about family, religion, race, and above all loneliness, Glory, the 38 year old daughter of her father, a dying minister ruminates about faith:
"Faith for her was habit and family loyalty, a reverence for the Bible which was also literary, admiration for her mother and father. And then that thrilling quiet of which she had never felt any need to speak."
That 'thrilling quiet' seems like the sacredness for which I "go to church". In our current service it is most available in verbal or silent  prayer. I know you will not take it wrong that the church for me needs to be more than a recitation of Social Service accomplishments of which our particular church has an enviable list.
This member needs to have an opportunity to be with God in the service. There is a distinction between "praying" and "praying about". We only get in touch with the presence of God when the voice in our head is silenced. Sometimes this happens.

This probably seems too heavy so I'll end with something I recently received from the church of my childhood. We Congregationalists were brought up to remember our fore-fathers as the Plymouth Rock Boys. This obit piece reminded me of that.

At her death she was the longest-affiliated member of the First Congregational Church of La Grange. Pauline had an extensive collection of thimbles and belonged to the Thimblefools of Northern Illinois. She was an accomplished amateur genealogist, having traced her lineage as well as her husband's back many generations. She was a direct descendant of pilgrims John Alden and Priscilla Mullins and was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. 

We have a proud and splendid history and it is amazing to realize that the Pilgrim's descendants are still capable of showing up.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Don's Blog On a Phenomenon related to Experience and Human Relations 1-6

"He reflected that the progressive extension of the field of individual development and experience was regressively
accompanied by a restriction of the converse domain of interindividual relations."
Stephen Dedalus in Night Town
James Joyce, Ulysses

I have been mulling over this quote since 1958 when I wrote a thesis on "The Problem of the Artist in the Works of James Joyce and Thomas Mann". My thesis used the books to show that the more creative that the artists in these works became the harder it was for them to live in the everyday world. This subject is not new and was treated in ancient times in the Icarus Myth. Dedaelus and his son Icarus were imprisoned in the labyrinth by King Minos of crete. Dedaelus created wings for his son so that Icarus could escape. The wings were made of wax and when Icarus flew to close to the sun they melted and he fell fatally into the sea. It is thought  that the labyrinth represents life and escaping it can be fatal but not hopeless as the sea has always represented an accepting mother image.Joyce giving Stephen Dedalus that last name is not accidental. 
Hemingway treats the same theme in The Old Man and the Sea. There are consequences for the old man "going out too far".
Personally I noticed that it was not easy to maintain much of an everyday life during my training when I was working 15+ hour six day weeks (even though I was ecstatic about what I was doing).

Monday, January 4, 2016

Don's Blog 1-4-16 Qualities of Being Human

This is from my brother David's Blog.
The Blog of dlsesh1

One of the most widespread superstitions is that every man has his own special, definite qualities; that a man is kind, cruel, wise, stupid, energetic, apathetic, etc. 

Men are not like that. 

We may say of a man that he is more often kind than cruel, oftener wise than stupid, oftener energetic than apathetic, or the reverse; but it would be false to say of one man that he is kind and wise, of another that he is wicked and foolish. 

And yet we always classify mankind in this way. And this is untrue. 

Men are like rivers: the water is the same in each, and alike in all; but every river is narrow here, is more rapid there, here slower, there broader, now clear, now cold, now dull, now warm. 

It is the same with men. 

Every man carries in himself the germs of every human quality, and sometimes one manifests itself, sometimes another, and the man often becomes unlike himself, while still remaining the same man ...

Leo Tolstoy

Flower for the Day Pale Holly Tree 1-4-16

We have a holly tree (Ilex aquifolium) that was planted when the house was built. Our plan was to keep it
below the roof line but that has not worked out. We wanted to have it shaped so an arborist came by to give us a bid.

He took one look at the pale leaves and said we had a problem.

Compared to our holly trees in the back the difference was apparent. The arborist said 
that it was a problem with soil acidity. He recommended:
3/4 # of sulfur granules 
24 gallons of Miracid by label (1 tblsp/gallon)
I just finished applying this acid potion. We shall see.

Sunday, January 3, 2016



Sam's Steakhouse - South County 12-21

We celebrated Christmas at Sam's Steakhouse in South County with our friends the Palmers.

Happy 80th Birthday Mariette.


The entire restaurant was decorated inside and out. The food and the service 
was exceptional.


There was a nice restaurant painting/image in the Comfort Room.



Friday, January 1, 2016

Don Ingram's Memorial Service 12-19

Today we joined the family of my close friend and colleague Don Ingram who passed away on December7 for a memorial. The service was held at the Tower Grove Park Tennis Center. After prayers and some stories (he was famous for loving ice cream) his ashes were spread by the courts. 
Don was like a surrogate brother to me and was both personally and professionally supportive. He made us laugh - no howl, at times. One day he planted Karen Azaleas in front of my house. Thirty years later they are thriving. He was filled with  energy and enthusiasm. He had an eye for beauty. He was a giver and a pleaser. He never met a stranger. As I write this I am overwhelmed that I can't play with him anymore.
As we stood at the service Jan looked across the street and saw something that looked like the statue of a horse. After the service we walked over to look at it and it was a Clydesdale dressed up for the occasion. Don would have loved it.