dual personalities

A floating sense of doom

107-Christ the Comforter

“God knows we have our own demons to be cast out, our own uncleanness to be cleansed. Neurotic anxiety happens to be my own particular demon, a floating sense of doom that has ruined many of what could have been, should have been, the happiest days of my life, and more than a few times in my life I have been raised from such ruins, which is another way of saying that more than a few times in my life I have been raised from death – death of the spirit anyway, death of the heart – by the healing power that Jesus calls us both to heal with and to be healed by.”

― Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons

I can surely relate to what Frederick Buechner is saying here, although I wouldn’t classify it as neurotic anxiety exactly. I just have always had a morbid imagination, always thinking about what might happen, especially concerning loved ones.

At the evensong service on Sunday the choir sang an anthem based on a poem by Robert Herrick (1591–1674):

In the hour of my distress,

When temptations me oppress,

And when I my sins confess,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!


When I lie within my bed,

Sick in heart and sick in head,

And with doubts discomforted,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!


When the house doth sigh and weep,

And the world is drown’d in sleep,

Yet mine eyes the watch do keep,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

I was reminded that people back in the seventeenth century lay in bed at night and obsessed over problems too. I must say that I do find comfort in that.

And as I always say to the boy after one of our overwrought discussions of current events, God is in control. It is good to remember that.

The evensong service ends with the wonderful prayer for mission:

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give thine angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for thy love’s sake. Amen.

You can’t go wrong with this prayer at bedtime. Keep it on your bedside table. Envision those angels watching over you and your loved ones. It helps to dissipate that floating sense of doom.

O friends, in gladness let us sing, supernal anthems echoing*

[FYI supernal means a) being or coming from on high b) heavenly, ethereal.]

I went to church twice on Sunday so I am feeling the supernal vibe. I read at Evensong, but I had to go to a meeting after the 10 a.m. service, so that is why I also attended that service. I am “mentoring” one of our confirmands, so I was getting the lowdown on expectations for the coming year. My assignment is a girl I have known since she was a tiny tot and not someone who is too cool for me. No piercings or dyed black hair either. All should will be well.

The boy came over after church and knocked down an old fence for us.



The OM and I would have wrestled with this for who knows how long, so once again, how grateful we are to have his manly help.

It took him all of 10 minutes, so we went out to lunch at Steak ‘N Shake.

On Friday night the OM and I went to a work-sponsored party at the zoo. I got to see the new polar bear in his swanky new environment.


He growled at me through the glass. He was up-close and personal, right? I wanted to see him swimming, but he did not oblige.

We also saw some penguins


and we rode on the empty train.


We ate a hotdog and went home. It was an evening well spent.

I am reading the new mystery by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling)–The Silkworm, which I am enjoying very much.  I am not a big mystery fan, but the characters in her series are real (not cardboard) and I like her P.D., Cormoran Strike.

I watched Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), which I did not particularly like, and Send Me No Flowers (1964) with Rock Hudson (“Is it a sharp pain, is it a dull pain, or does it grip like a vice?”), which I liked very much.

Also, this is pretty darn great:

How was your weekend?

*Lasst uns erfreuen, #618

Cultivate the Merry Heart*

Recently I learned that on Sundays my DH doesn’t read his email. That conscious policy — an act of defiance if ever there was one — gave me an idea. After I post this, I’m going to turn off the internet — at least for the rest of the day! I don’t know about you, but I am beyond tired of the reductionism rampant on the internet. Everything (especially politics) gets reduced to dumb slogans and simplistic, black and white equations: If you believe X, then you are Y (apply whatever values to X and Y you want). The lack of depth or simple logic is deplorable. Yes, it’s so bad that it inspires me to rant.

Claire trevorAdmit it. You’d love to say that to loads of people. Sigh. But no. We are going to laugh at all that self-righteousness, right?

errol-robin-hood-gif-251And cultivate a merry heart.  It’s so much healthier for the blood pressure.

Have a deep, complex and entirely satisfying weekend and when the world makes you mad, laugh like Errol :)

*Norman Vincent Peale

Friday movie pick: “He’s the last guy in the world I woulda’ figured.”*

Thirty years ago today, Rock Hudson died after a 15-month battle with AIDS . He was only 59.

Annex - Hudson, Rock_01

So in his memory, I suggest we watch one of his movies tonight.

We could go with Rock Hudson and John Wayne in The Undefeated (1970)


or Rock Hudson and Doris Day and Tony Randall in Pillow Talk (1959)


or Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida in Come September (1961).


His 1950s melodramas are a little heavy-handed for my taste but they’re not terrible. And he was great in his later career playing stand-up military types like Cdr. Ferraday in Ice Station Zebra (1968). But I like his romantic comedies best. He was perfect in them.

Indeed, he was just kind of perfect.

Have a great weekend! You go, Mike Matheny!


Yes, the Cardinals clinched their third straight division title, their fifth straight playoff appearance and their 12th postseason trip in the past 16 seasons. 100 wins. Central Division champs! Home field advantage!

*Fred in Lover Come Back (1961)–Hudson’s comedies are peppered with lines like this, as if his gayness was one big private joke in Hollywood (wink wink). I guess it was.

“Salutations!” said the voice.”*

Well, here we go. Ninety-one days left in the year!

It will be Christmas before we know it. Plans are full-speed ahead for 2016 at work. 2016! But the millennium was yesterday!

Well, time marches on and all that.

Today, in memory of E.B. White, who died on this day in 1985 (30 years ago!), let’s have a moment with our favorite spider Charlotte.


“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’

‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”


When the book was published in 1952, Eudora Welty reviewed it in the New York Times, writing, “As a piece of work it is just about perfect, and just about magical in the way it is done.” I concur.

As you know, I have a love/hate relationship with spiders, but I do love Charlotte.

And, OMG, this year marks the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas! So buy your commemorative Christmas stamps today!



And the Cards won the division! There is joy in Mudville again!


Big Time flyover news and some other stuff


Well–yay–now we have our very own IKEA store in our flyover town. Woohoo. This is big news for us, but since I have been to the College Park store many times,  I’ll wait ’til the crowds thin out a bit before I venture down to see it.

Of course, there are always some weirdos zealous shoppers who camp out for days so that they can be the first ones in when the store opens on the first day. Prizes are usually involved.


Free meatballs for a year–not an incentive for me.  But far be it from me to judge–to each his own.

Speaking of to each his own, here is something from the Advice-I-Don’t-Need Department via Apartment Therapy:

Without logos, brand names and stores taking up free advertising real estate in your bathroom, the whole place looks cleaner. A little more streamlined and a lot more elegant. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Peel the labels off. Take your hand soaps and lotions and peel the sticky labels right off, cleaning up any stubborn pieces with a solution like Goo Gone.
  • Re-pot anything that needs a new container. Shampoo in a brightly colored bottle that’s totally messing with your chi? Funnel it into a shatter-proof bottle with a cork pour spout.
  • Use glass jars and bowls to wrangle small items. Take cotton swabs out of their cardboard boxes and cotton balls out of bags. Arrange bobby pins in a neat little bowl (IKEA is great for these).

Okay, I admit I already put cotton balls and Q-Tips in a glass jar and bobby pins etc in a variety of little bowls, but who has time to peel the labels off their shampoo bottles? Get a life, people!

I wonder why people are so obsessive these days about their living spaces. I blame social media.

Speaking of social media, here’s a funny picture I found on the John Wayne Facebook page.


You gotta admit: That. is. great. Have a good Wednesday!

Like a flash of light*


“And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”

Today is the birthday of the Italian painter Caravaggio (1571–1610). I am not a big fan of his art, but I have always liked his painting of the conversion of Saint Paul. It is realistic and dramatic and the light–wow. Clearly something big is happening to Saul of Tarsus under the hooves of his horse.

Anyway, it gives us an opportunity to think about conversion today. Here is Frederick Buechner on the subject:

There are a number of conversions described in the New Testament. You think of Paul seeing the light on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19), or the Ethiopian eunuch getting Philip to baptize him on the way from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8:28-40). There is also the apostle Thomas saying, “My Lord and my God!” when he is finally convinced that Jesus is alive and whole again (John 20:26-29), not to mention the Roman centurion who witnessed the crucifixion saying, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Luke 23:47). All these scenes took place suddenly, dramatically, when they were least expected. They all involved pretty much of an about-face, which is what the word conversion means. We can only imagine that they all were accompanied by a good deal of emotion.

But in this same general connection there are other scenes that we should also remember. There is the young man who, when Jesus told him he should give everything he had to the poor if he really wanted to be perfect as he said he did, walked sorrowfully away because he was a very rich man. There is Nicodemus, who was sufficiently impressed with Jesus to go talk to him under cover of darkness and later to help prepare his body for burial, but who never seems to have actually joined forces with him. There is King Agrippa, who, after hearing Paul’s impassioned defense of his faith, said, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28, KJV). There is even Pontius Pilate, who asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) under such circumstances as might lead you to suspect that just possibly, half without knowing it, he really hoped Jesus would be able to give him the answer, maybe even become for him the answer.

Like the conversions, there was a certain amount of drama about these other episodes too and perhaps even a certain amount of emotion, though for the most part unexpressed. But of course in the case of none of them was there any about-face. Presumably all these people kept on facing more or less the same way they had been right along. King Agrippa, for instance, kept on being King Agrippa just as he always had. And yet you can’t help wondering if somewhere inside himself, as somewhere also inside the rest of them, the “almost” continued to live on as at least a sidelong glance down a new road, the faintest itching of the feet for a new direction.

We don’t know much about what happened to any of them after their brief appearance in the pages of Scripture, let alone what happened inside them. We can only pray for them, not to mention also for ourselves, that in the absence of a sudden shattering event, there was a slow underground process that got them to the same place in the end.

–Frederick Buechner, Beyond Words

Discuss among yourselves.

*”Like a flash of light, I realized in what an abyss of errors, in what chaos I was.” (John Calvin)

Exercise daily: walk with Jesus*

I finally made it back to church this weekend and was a lay reader. I read a good long piece from Numbers about Moses having a “Kill me now, Lord” moment when his whiney brethren were remembering the good times back in Egypt. “We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic…but now there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” People never change, do they? It is good to go to church and be reminded of this. We also received a  finger-shaking piece of the assisting priest’s mind during the announcements. She scolded us for not singing loudly enough. This annoyed me somewhat, but I also know from whence she comes. Some people just never sing; they never even open their hymnals and pretend. C’mon now. Sing out.

The OM and I planted twelve iris bulbs that someone had given me in the hopes that they will be blooming when my birthday swings around in April. Wasn’t that thoughtful? The least we could do was plant them! We indulged ourselves afterwards with a trip to Shake ‘N Shake.

I watched Seven Seas to Calais (see Friday’s post)–having paid $1.99 on Amazon to do so. It was not as terrible as I feared, but it was pretty bad. I tried to watch some of those old James Dean television shows (see Thursday’s post) and they were basically unwatchable. Mostly I continued with The Wire season one, which I started watching when daughter #2 was home last weekend, despite the boy’s admonition not to. I am really enjoying it.


I think Bal’more and my flyover hometown are very similar, so it is kind of fascinating to me. It is very well done, and once you get over the fact that every other word is the f-word or the mf-word, it’s okay. (It is important to cleanse the palate so to speak by listening to something like the above youtube video after each episode.)


The Cardinals continue to get closer to winning the division, but yesterday’s game was a debacle! Don’t get cocky, redbirds! Onward and upward. Have a good week!

*Seen on a church sign this weekend.

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”*

And he will. Happy Birthday to my youngest son, who turns twenty today!

Tim visits James 2015 (3)My, but how time flies. He was just a little peanut barely big enough to sit on the front steps of our house.

tim timba3

I’m happy to see that he hasn’t lost the mischievous smile or the twinkle in his eye. Long may it be so!

If, while you are contemplating your own past, you want a good read over the weekend (or maybe several; it’s long) and you haven’t already read it, dive into Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Its quite wonderful and deserves all the accolades it has received over the years. Yes, it could have used some editing — it’s a little long-winded in places — but I applaud her point; beautiful things — art, literature, music, knowledge — make life worth living. The truth is, “that fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. That maybe even if we’re not always so glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway: wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open. And in the midst of our dying, as we rise from the organic and sink back ignominiously into the organic, it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch.” Amen to that.

*Herman Melville, Moby Dick

True glory

On this day in 1580 Sir Francis Drake completed his circumnavigation of the Earth.

Can you even imagine such a thing? In the sixteenth century?

Drake’s expedition was the second circumnavigation of the world in a single expedition, from 1577 to 1580, and was the first to be completed with the same captain and leader of the expedition throughout the entire circumnavigation. (Ferdinand Magellan died in the Philippines and the Magellan-Elcano circumnavigation did not make it up to North America.)

Yes, Sir Francis Drake was quite a guy. Why, I ask, didn’t they make a movie about him starring Errol Flynn?

Well, according to IMDB.com, there is a movie called Seven Seas to Calais (1962) starring Rod Taylor as Drake, which was Italian-produced and originally called “Il dominatore dei 7 mari”.


In this dubious flick “Sir Francis Drake goes on an expedition to the New World and steals gold from the Spaniards. After making a daring getaway, he returns to England where he protects Queen Elizabeth I from a network of spies who are plotting to overthrow her.” You can see the whole movie on Amazon and I may have to check it out this weekend.

Meanwhile, let us not forget that there is a new show debuting on Sunday night starring Don Johnson.


I’m sure it is terrible, accent on really bad, but I have to give it a try. I mean c’mon. Don Johnson.

I will close with this great prayer by Drake which I know I have quoted before, but it certainly bears repeating:

“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little,
when we arrive safely because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess,
we have lost our thirst for the waters of life, 
having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity, 
and in our efforts to build a new earth,
we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, 
where storms will show your mastery, 
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. 
We ask you to push back the horizon of our hopes, 
and to push us into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love. 
This we ask in the name of our Captain, who is Jesus Christ. ”

Have a great weekend!


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