My blog friend the Boston Pobble refers to herself, along with a number of other attributes, as “a quivering mass of contradictions.” I suppose that to a greater or lesser extent that’s true of all of us.

When we do our Christmas cards I always deliberately omit a specific reference to Christmas out of respect for my friends who are not Christian. Our cards normally have a  message of something like “Peace” or “Joy.” And yet when I buy the stamps for our cards, I always get the religious-themed ones, which most years is some variation of Madonna and Child. The secular stamps usually seem too frivolous for me.

That’s a contradiction. I have no explanation. But it’s what I do.

they understand

Thanksgiving weekend we were sleeping in. Terry got up to give Tasha her “crunch”— her dry food, which she gets later in the morning after her canned food — and came back to bed. Shortly thereafter Tasha came back into the bedroom and thudded onto the bed. She looked over at me and then headed for the foot of the bed. I said, “What, no kisses?!” Tasha came back over to me and licked my face then did the same to Terry. She then settled down at the foot of the bed.

Don’t tell me our pets don’t understand language!

Advent begins

Last September I quoted Rachel Barenblat, the Velveteen Rabbi, who had some profound and useful words for Rosh Hashanah. I said I was going to remember them come Advent, and I am remembering them now.

I’d like to invite each of us to cherish the memories which bring us joy, and to release the memories which bring us pain. To let go of the vision of what we imagined these holidays would be, and embrace instead whatever they actually are.

I want to bless you that you might find the connections, the insights, and the spiritual richness you need, in whatever your experience of [these days] may be.

Sacred Music Friday: We Gather Together

We Gather Together, Kathryn Grayson

Happy Thanksgiving!

All the best wishes of Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Please forgive the Christmas decorations. It’s otherwise a great performance. Courtesy of Unapologetically Episcopalian.


I had a telephone conversation with an Episcopal priest last week. We’ve never met in person, I’ve never been in her church when she preached a sermon, and I’ve never held out my hands to her so she could put the wafer in them. But I feel I know her well. I have listened to many of her podcast sermons, and her words have always resonated with me. She tells the truth, and she tells it with clarity, but at the same time with wit and humor. Her sermons rival or exceed those of the most experienced and respected of preachers. It’s the sad reality, though, that she hasn’t been treated well at all by the Episcopal Church.

Which was the occasion of our phone conversation. I had wanted to express my outrage at her treatment in my blog, and in an email exchange she asked that I not do so. We talked on the phone so she could explain her feelings in a more personal way than could be done by email. I understood where she was coming from entirely.

In the course of our conversation she asked me if I was a writer. I appreciated that. A lot. I explained to her that I toiled in the fields of high tech, and perhaps while not my vocational calling, it pays the bills and allows for a nice life for Terry and me.

But to have someone whom I respect so much acknowledge my writing — well, that meant an awful lot to me.

Thank you, my friend.


I’ve been attending St. John the Divine for more than a year now. I’ve liked the 10:30 am Choral Eucharist. I like the service and being able to being able to sleep in on Sunday but still get to church. Church dynamics, though, are changing and churches need to change to keep up.

At St. John neither the 8:00 am service nor the 10:30 am service were getting great attendance. And the board and the vestry noticed that parents were having trouble getting their kids to church for the 9:00 am family service. So they combined the 8:00 am service and the 10:30 Choral Eucharist into a 9:00 am Rite II Choral Eucharist and moved the family service to 10:30.

Needless to say I wasn’t pleased. This meant that I needed to get up at 7:00 am, the same time I get up most weekdays. But being at church and receiving Communion on Sunday is important to me.

The first two Sundays I am managed to get my rear our of bed at seven, as much as I would have love to have stayed under the covers. We had a critical mass at both services, which was nice.

This past Sunday was different. With Terry being away at the 3-Day walk, my weekend rhythm was out of whack. Add to that Sunday morning was cold and wet. I fed Tasha at seven and when I got out of the bathroom she was there on the bed. I looked at the bed, and I looked at the shower. The bed won. So I missed the Last Sunday after Pentecost.

But I think it will work out. I fully expect to be in church for the First Sunday of Advent.

I get up earlier, but we have more energy in the church service and I have an extra ninety minutes added to my day on Sunday.

Not so bad.

more on the Buddha

I wrote last week about buying a Buddha for my desk to help me deal with the aggravations of work. I mentioned in passing that I found one at Ross, but there’s more to the story than that.

When I was talking to my spiritual director about this, she said, “They have them at Ross.” That immediately triggered the snob in me, and I said, “I was thinking of Cost Plus.” Actually I was thinking of Pier One, because that’s what we have in Gilroy.

On Saturday we went to Pier one, and the only Buddhas they had were the big outdoor garden size. In spite of the fact that I hate even walking in the door at Ross, we went in there, and lo and behold, there were a number of choices. I spent some time going back and forth among the various choices, but finally settled on one, which I had kept coming back to. It wasn’t quite what I wanted, but I thought it would do temporarily. I thought that I could check Amazon for something permanent. When I got it home, though, and situated it on my desk, I knew that it was perfect and exactly what I needed. So much for snobbery.

And how is it working? When I get frustrated or angry while on a call or reading an email I look over at the Buddha and I calm down and come back to center.

How about that?

Sacred Music Friday: What Sweeter Music

King’s College Cambridge: What Sweeter Music by John Rutter


In tribute to Andy Rooney, though he may never have actually said this: “Did you ever notice…”

Facebook has the word “via” exactly backwards. If I share something that Fran Rossi Szpylczyn posted, Facebook will say “Mike Christie via Fran Rossi Szpylczyn.” But that’s not right. It’s really the other way around. Fran posted it originally, and I re-posted it. It’s Fran’s material passed on via Mike.

I’m just sayin’ …