Category Archives: Episcopal Church

25 years

Twenty-five years ago this week, I was singing daily at Westminster Abbey in London.  I was soloist with the mixed choir from Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, on a tour of Scotland and England, culminating in a week-long residency at Westminster Abbey.

We had sung at the Abbey on Monday and Tuesday, then had Wednesday off.  Twenty-five years ago, this day was a Thursday.

And on this Thursday 25 years ago, after singing Evensong, and the vergers closed the Abbey, the choir broke into two groups and had a guided tour of the Abbey.  No others present. Just us and the ghosts and the saints.

Our tour took more than an hour.  Then the guides said to us “Stay as long as you’d like.  We have a late prayer service at 10 p.m.”  So in the twilight (the sun did not set until 10 p.m. or so) I wandered the Abbey and visited the monuments for people who were already important in my life — Handel, Purcell, Stanford, Vaughan Williams.

I explored the family chapels, the tomb of St. Edward the Confessor, the graves of Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I.  The incredible Mary Chapel.

But most importantly for me, I stopped for a long time at the grave of Herbert Howells.  (Just search this blog for Howells!) To be alone with him for those few minutes, in the quiet of the Abbey, was a powerfully emotional, even transcendental experience.

Howells, Vaughan Williams, and Stanford, all together in eternal rest at Westminster Abbey.

Three days later I sang his Westminster Abbey service, and Vaughan Williams’ “Lord, thou has been our refuge,” just steps away from their graves in that north choir aisle.  And barely made it through the emotions.

Every subsequent visit to the Abbey has included a moment of quiet at HH’s grave.  I hope to visit once again before I too am gone.

Jephthah

The Old Testament lesson at Morning Prayer this morning was the story of Jephthah and his vow to God, as told in the book of Judges.

Jephthah was a brave and mighty warrior.

He also made a foolish vow, but he was a man of principle; he followed through on that same vow and sacrificed his daughter in thanks for a victory in battle.

Jephthah’s story is a cautionary tale.  Be careful what you say.  Try to understand and comprehend consequences before you take action.  Understand the law . . . and cause & effect.  Think before you speak.  As in Hamilton, Smile more, speak less.


This story was fodder for one of the most glorious laments ever penned by a composer.

Tuesday morning

Tuesday morning on the farm.

I have a candle lit to dispel the gray gloom and to bathe in light the weathered yellow plank walls of this cozy kitchen. An oil lamp is on the sideboard, but I have no paraffin oil to burn, so a candle must suffice.

The walls in the kitchen appear to be original planks.  Over the stove is an original brick flue, with a twin in the living room.  This was where the coal or wood stove was vented; the stoves would have provided the only heating in the house, back in the day, with a stove in the front room and one in the kitchen.

Nelson has now spotted the horses in their enclosure to the east of the little white farmhouse.

The problem with Nelson on a farm is that he has apparently never seen a big animal, so the bull on the other side of the (electrified) fence seems to him to be a challenge.  And challenge to perhaps engage.  I had him on a leash, of course, so no engagement took place, and the bull, brought in from a neighboring farm in hopes of making bullocks, as it were, munched on grass and completely ignored the little varmint.

Now it’s the horses that need engaging.  We shall see.  I brought apples to feed them, so we will take a (leashed) wander over there soon enough.

We both had a restless night.  Nelson seemed to be disturbed by a couple of moths flying around, a price we pay for life on the farm.  He was up and down all night.  Truth be told, so was I, thanks to a noisome chattering fan that seemed slightly out of kilter, and my poor decision to turn off the air conditioning on a muggy but cool night.

We had a rainstorm come through around 5 p.m., and at 11 p.m. we were still getting a shower.  The pond was glorious in the rain, and mist-shrouded this morning at daybreak.

Our first morning walk in the dewy grass led to me doing battle with a horsefly that was determined to dive-bomb.  Fool me once . . . fool me twice . . . but the third time . . . well, the string of expletives I unleashed upon the little flying creep must have scared it away.

Nelson meanwhile sniffed and peed (and pooped) thoroughly.  There isn’t a fencepost that hasn’t been marked by the little terrier.

Connie, my host, has a wee dog too.  Sugar.  She’s black with some white markings, and looks like she has some poodle in her.  She’s a sweety.

Today is, in the communion of saints in the Episcopal Church (USA), the Feast of Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Frederic Handel, and Henry Purcell.  Reading their hagiographies at Morning Prayer reduced me yet again to tears, something that seems a near-daily occurrence.  I think the tears are a release from the weariness with uncertainty, our national devastation of leadership, the pandemic, the state of the world, and much more.  I’ll own these tears if they keep me out of therapy. (And so far, they have.)

 

Resume

More basement cleaning.

This was a resume I put together to get a church gig. And I got it. At Christ Community Church in Blue Springs, a mission Reformed Church in America congregation that is sadly now defunct. This was my first step away from Southern Baptist, and several years later led to my spiritual home, the Protestant Episcopal Church in America.

Once again

Once again, I’ve had two good cries before noon.  In fact, before 9 a.m.

The natal day started like this:

  • 6.30 a.m., mow the back yard, then trim the edges.  (I like order and lines.)
  • 7.15 a.m., start the coffee.
  • 7.24 a.m., leave for a breakfast pickup.  En route, well up and then burst forth in tears.
  • 7.45 a.m., collect my pre-ordered birthday breakfast at Southwest Diner.  YUM!
  • 8.45 a.m., read Morning Prayer.  Today is the Feast of William White, first Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and architect of the governance of the denomination in which I am most at home.

This Storycorps entry on Morning Edition ripped me open this morning:

https://www.npr.org/2020/07/17/891825788/love-lost-truth-found-in-pandemic-isolation-a-father-comes-out-to-his-daughter

And the Collect for William White reminded me of how lacking and pitiful our national leadership is right now, and I just wept for a while:

O Lord, in a time of turmoil and confusion you raised up your servant William White, and endowed him with wisdom, patience, and a reconciling temper, that he might lead your Church into ways of stability and peace: Hear our prayer, and give us wise and faithful leaders, that through their ministry your people may be blessed and your will be done; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Can you imagine having a wise, patient leader with a reconciling temper?  How far we’ve come since President Obama.

As usual

As usual, God winks at the right moment.

Today’s readings for Morning Prayer on Independence Day included this passage from Ecclesiasticus:

A wise magistrate educates his people,
and the rule of an intelligent person is well ordered.
As the people’s judge is, so are his officials;
as the ruler of the city is, so are all its inhabitants.
An undisciplined king ruins his people,
but a city becomes fit to live in through the understanding of its rulers.

God help us.

And this Collect of the Day:

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this
country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the
torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and
all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our
liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our
Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

See also Collect 18, “For our country”:

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our
heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove
ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.
Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and
pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;
from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend
our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes
brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue
with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust
the authority of government, that there may be justice and
peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we
may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.
In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness,
and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail;
all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Morning Prayer

With the moderate weather this week, I’ve been reading Morning Prayer outdoors in the garden.

Nelson is usually checking out the lawn and the flowers for any new scents from overnight.

But Wednesday morning he was fast asleep on the patio.

This boy loves the outdoors, being content to spend hours sitting on the top step sniffing the air and barking at anything or anyone that dares move through the alley behind the house.

The week in review

My world is opening back up, if only slightly.

I enjoyed some coffee time Thursday morning with a friend, on my patio, distant but not masked.

I saw a masked allergist on Monday, and found out that I’m allergic to the same allergens from 30 years ago — mold, the pollen from hickory and ash and elm and maple trees, ragweed, dust mites. Cats. And dogs.

But dog dander is manageable, and my peace of mind is more important. So Nelson stays.  In comes the HEPA air filter for the bedroom, though!

Webster is ready to welcome administrators back, and I may need to start going to the office again.

I got to the Missouri Botanical Garden on Saturday for two glorious hours of walking and literally smelling the roses.  Photos will roll out over the next five days.

Amidst the irises in the Japanese Garden.

Webster University’s BLACK LIVES MATTER banner was stolen sometime Thursday evening. A posting about this on Facebook led to an outpouring of support, and the usual idiots posting their venom as well. How disheartening, that college-educated alumni of a progressive school, one founded on tenets of social justice and inclusion, are venal and noisy and unrepentant.

Friday was a dark day as Trump and His Toadies finalized a rule rolling back some queer and trans protections established under the Obama Administration. Trump et al. chose to do this on the fourth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando. Their evil knows no bounds, and their places in some loveless afterlife are secure.

On the other hand, Trump got a slight slap-down from numerous ex-military leaders, and more than a thousand retired DoJ employees. The Unhinged Man continues his ways, however. Our national election cannot come soon enough.

Screen shot from the FB video feed.

Unemployment high. Stock market tumbling again. World standing continuing to decline.

My local Episcopal diocese ordained our new bishop on Saturday. Our first immigrant bishop in this diocese. Our first gay bishop in this diocese. And the youngest bishop in the Episcopal Church.

And then there’s Nelson. Wonderful, wacky, weird Nelson. He is more voluble now that he is comfortable. He is clingy and needy. He is clearly a lady’s man. And I adore him.

Nelson left me a little present this week after I was gone too long.  He is deliriously happy when I arrive home after being away even for a few minutes.  He loves car rides,  being outdoors, getting wet in the sprinkler.  And this week he went with me to a garage voice lesson out in Ballwin, where he kept the rest of the family entertained whilst I taught.

Nelson does like to sleep with his legs in the air.

Here’s more:

After rolling all over my bed and mussing up the sheets.

The boy loves to be outdoors. And this was taken ten minutes after I had cleaned the glass. He already had his nose on it.

Nelson is also a helper in the kitchen, joining me as I made passionfruit curd:

And no matter where I turn, he seems to have his eye on me, or at least on my escape route:

On the flip side, Nelson had a gambol in the gladiolas, to their detriment:

Note to self: Nelson cannot be outdoors when the neighbors are having their HVAC serviced.

I made two batches of pot-stickers this week. And a couple of Dutch babies for breakfast. And a new batch of slow-rise bread is in the works!