That Which We Have Heard & Known

Occasional thoughts of an Anglican Episcopal priest

Category: Episcopal (page 2 of 106)

Lenten Journal 2019 (5 April)

Lenten Journal, Day 30

Physical therapy. A synonymous term is “torture.” Today’s session proved that.

I am unhappy I made the decision to replace my left knee with titanium and plastic. The result is far from what I had hoped.

I don’t blame the surgeon. His work is fine. X-rays show everything is right as it should be. The scar from the incision is great, better than the one on my right leg, and there is no deficit of feeling nor any oddball itching, again better than the right leg.

No. The problem is my chronic Achilles’ tendon pain. I feared going in that my Haglund’s deformity and related bursitis would complicate recovery, but I also hoped that replacing the knee and going through the therapy afterward would benefit the ankle and foot. The fear was realized, not the hope.

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Lenten Journal 2019 (4 April)

Lenten Journal, Day 29

So, typical of me, I let the Lenten discipline slide and didn’t write anything in this journal yesterday or the day before. In my defense, the first day was dominated by the “prep” for a colonoscopy and yesterday the procedure was done early in the morning; I spent the rest of the day sleeping off the Propofol used as anesthesia during the procedure.

That’s one of the drugs used in the capital punishment “cocktail,” by the way. One minute I was watching the nurse inject the stuff into my IV line; the next, I was in a different room, my wife at my bedside conversing with the gastroenterologist about radiation damage to my colon (that damage being a sequela of my treatment for prostate cancer). The rest of the day was spent mostly in a fog of unthinking, which is not the same thing as the cloud of unknowing by a long shot!

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Lenten Journal 2019 (1 April)

Lenten Journal, Day 26

This morning on Facebook I saw this sentiment laid out as an inspirational graphic claiming Celtic origins:

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

It is not Celtic. I have also seen it cited to the Talmud. It is not Talmudic. I know this because I have used this epigram in sermons and I have researched its origins. I’ve not been able to find them and, because it is so widely disseminated now with the Talmudic claim, I think they are impossible to find.

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Lenten Journal 2019 (31 March)

Lenten Journal, Day 25

I have put off writing my journal for the Fourth Sunday in Lent because it was “one of those days.”

“Mama told me,” the song goes, “there’d be days like this.”

I was awakened when the dog yelped in pain, really cried out, and we’re not at all sure why. It may have been that my wife in the early morning darkness stepped on his paw, though probably not. When I examined him, it seemed that his pain could be either (a) sensitive ears – he is prone to ear infections; or (b) a sensitive jaw or teeth; or (c) his neck.

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Lenten Journal 2019 (30 March)

Lenten Journal, Day 24

Before I met my wife, I played racquetball a couple of times a week. I backpacked and went wilderness camping in the desert with friends. I rode a 15-speed bike to work. I was a downhill skier.

Before she met me, my wife played tennis. She went camping in the mountains of northern Nevada with her family. She rode her 12-speed bike across the continental US. She was a Nordic cross-country skier.

When we dated, we talked about these activities, imagining that we would share them with one another. We never did them as a couple . . . but we talked about them.

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Lenten Journal 2019 (29 March)

Lenten Journal, Day 23

I linger over coffee
but I rush through eating an orange
I pour my coffee slowly and deliberately
savoring its aroma, craning my neck
to position my nose over the steam
breathing in the rich, roasted chocolate scent
earthy and acid, dark and mysterious
but I quickly peel an orange
ripping the rind from the flesh
putting asunder that which God had put together
I take contemplative sips of my coffee,
a half a mouthful at most,
meditating over its mellowness,
crispness, brightness, fruity palate, floral bitterness,
but I stuff my mouth with whole sections of orange,
sometimes two, sometimes three,
and crush them rapidly into pulpy juiciness
imagining my jaws acting like the juicer
of the lemonade vendor on the carnival midway

Lenten prayers are coffee and oranges
sometimes thoughtfully, carefully prayed,
sometimes hurried and rushed
sometimes a little of both
like breakfast

– C. Eric Funston, “Lenten Prayers,” 29 March 2019

Point of View: If I Were Preaching, Lent IV, 31 March 2019

I’m not preaching this week, but if I were . . .

I often read poetry as part of, and frequently as a substitute for, a homily. This is especially true on “high holy days” when the liturgy and the lessons of the lectionary speak so eloquently that the attempt at exegesis seems at best irrelevant and at worst intrusive, e.g., Good Friday or Palm Sunday. On such days, in such liturgies and with such lessons, the poets seem to get and to give the message so much better than I can.

There are two poems that I’ve used on Palm Sunday which look at the story focusing on or speaking through one of the often-ignored characters, the donkey which carried Christ into the city of Jerusalem. One is Mary Oliver’s The Poet Thinks about the Donkey in which the poet expresses her hopes for the animal.[1] The other is G.K. Chesterton’s The Donkey[2] in which the animal speaks for itself.

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Lenten Journal 2019 (28 March)

Lenten Journal, Day 22

Today is the 20th weekday in Lent … the season is half over!

I thought I would write some poetry, but it just turned into a limerick.

Christianity is not about pie in the sky by and by
It’s not about getting a ticket to heaven when you die
There’re no guarantees
when you fall on your knees
That a voice will answer when you ask “What?” or “When?” or “Why?”

No guarantees. That’s life. There is a Lenten guarantee, however. It ends with Resurrection.

Lenten Journal 2019 (27 March)

Lenten Journal, Day 21

God, I’m depressed. “My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick.”[1]

Going through Lent without the regular support of a faith community while also recovering from major orthopedic surgery and observing the state of American politics and the state of American Christianity really has me in a blue funk and I can feel the “black dog” prowling around in the fog. It’s too much. Maybe this retirement thing, or the surgery, or both were bad decisions. “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?”[2]

I’m pretty certain that checking the New York Times and the Washington Post, Facebook and Twitter is occasionally a bad idea, maybe frequently a bad idea.

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Lenten Journal 2019 (26 March)

Lenten Journal, Day 20

Sigh . . . . it’s detachment time again!

This Lent, my first as a retired priest, is certainly focusing my attention on not focusing my attention, which is just a cute way to say “Detachment.” The need to “let go” is hitting me squarely between the eyes.

I’m feeling very much like a stubborn donkey.

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