The days of our lives

dad, sisters and i cropped
My father and his children. c. 1956

On New Year’s Eve we had a funeral at 2nd Church Newton. We celebrated the life of a man who was 106 years old, born in December of 1912.

Had my father not died at an early age he would have been 106, too. In fact, his birthday was actually on December 31, 1912. He jokingly told us that he wasn’t sure how old he was, especially since was born near midnight. Born in ’12, at 11:30 PM, 106; born in ’13, at 12:30 AM, 107? Not really but fun to think about and no wonder it was confusing.

He had a short life ending with couple of heart attacks, the first at age 53 and the fatal one at 56. He smoked as most men did then and had a nerve disease that required him to start using a walker in his 40’s. Cardiac imaging and coronary artery bypass surgery were in their infancy but who knows how those advancements would  have helped anyhow.

I guess you could say that I was close to my father. I worked with him in his wholesale hot dog business in my high school years. Memories of delivering many seven pound boxes of bulk wieners on the Jacksonville Beach boardwalk are seared into my brain.

I have outlived my father by quite a few years but does more time mean that much? I have good quality of life, all in all, I have been able to take advantage of modern medicine. I share life with a wonderful woman who is the mother of our two great children.  They undoubtedly want me to stick around and I plan to do my best. So for them if not for me, added years would be excellent

I  have no meaningful answers but about the simplest yet most profound way to see it is this: “The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.” –Martin Luther King

************

Afterthought: One memory I treasure more than others is when years later he told me that to the contrary, he hadn’t pushed me into the ministry. He had hoped I would take over Turner Distributing Company.

 

‘’Enuf said?

May be.

On the other hand, some semblance of our constitutional checks and balances has been sparked by the Blue Wave.

And for us here in West Newton, there is a new home as a part of ministerial compensation in a great new congregation.

In fact, a “good things” list could go and on. So, once again, the keyword is gratitude. With love to our family and friends, new and old, we say:

Wrapped in Love

“… the unsung heroes, the people who have decided I’m worth loving, even though I’m often so needy. They see the toll it takes to be so visible in so many places, and they secure my grounding. They hold me in their hearts. They prop me up when I can barely stand, goad me up when I just don’t want to stand, and stand back and smile when I am holding my own….”

So much wisdom in one page. Thank you, Paula

Paula Stone Williams

I preached a sermon this past weekend about Joseph, the husband of Mary.  I talked about unsung heroes.  I am grateful for the heroes who keep me grounded. A lot of accolades have come my way over the past couple of years, and there is not a day that I do not give thanks for the dear souls who keep me on track.

We are social creatures.  In spite of the American myth of the rugged individual, we were made for community. Even God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are in community.  I’ve always had this image of them sitting on the shore of a mountain lake around a warm campfire, a full moon rising in the distance, and a couple of trout on the fire. (Hmm, I think I just described an imaginary Terry Redlin painting.)

The three are talking about life in the world of ordinary time, and the people…

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Transgender Awareness Week 2018

TransgenderFlag-1600x900
This flag flew over the Boston City Hall on May 3, 2016 
On November 6th, while most of the country were focussing on who would control Congress in the next term, Massachusetts addressed an important anti-discrimination law.
A yes vote on Question 3 would preserve the current form of Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination law, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of gender identity, race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, disability, and ancestry. A no vote would strip gender identity protections from the law, undoing Massachusetts’ transgender rights law passed in 2016.
Here is how it turned out:
Question – 3 – Gender Identity Rights – Ballot Issue
MASSACHUSETTS

100 % Precincts ReportingNov. 09, 2018 11:06 ET

Party Name Votes Vote %
Yes

Yes, 

1,788,574
67.77 %
No
No,
850,800
32.23 %

We live in West Newton, so I am especially glad to see the strength of this city’s votes keeping our anti-discrimination law. Elections results are relative, of course, but I am going with 16.81% is better than 32.23%.

NEWTON

32 of 32 Precincts Reporting – 100%Updated: Nov. 09, 2018 11:06 ET
Party Name Votes Vote %
Yes Yes, 32,351 83.19 %
No No, 6,539 16.81 %

Not that it really made that much of a difference overall, but our congregation, 2nd Church Newton and its leaders made it clear that we hoped the vote would result in a big yes. I couldn’t imagine it failing but some were concerned. That almost two million Massachusetts voters support the rights of transgender persons is good feeling. I am totally convinced that those who voted ‘no’ will never see any of their fears realized. In fact, they are false cries of alarm about something that is non-existent, in the first place.

Social and cultural changes abound. Many of us struggle with those kind of shifts but when we simplify things, it becomes much easier. For example, do you know anyone who is transgender? If not, explore sites like Gladd or Human Rights Campaign. Plus, maybe the very easiest and effective thing would be to be “don’t worry about it”. Chances are, no one is bugging you about your sex or gender so why even think about someone else’s choices, unless that ask you to do so.

Boston=Traffic

traffic

I hate sitting in traffic. Often I will try to avoid jams and go my own way which sometimes turns into a big mistake. Like the time Joe and I missed our flight at Logan. Why didn’t I just stay right where I was on the interstate?

But now I am a Lyft driver. In Boston. A kind of aversion therapy because there is hardly a place anywhere that is not filled with cars, the main business area of Boston being the worlds worst.

Well, not actually ‘the’ worse. Cities in India, for example. I was never driving, I was sitting in the back seat trying to remember some kind of prayer. Boston is, however, an evil champion of the those cities in the US that have adequate public transportation.

Adding insult to injury is the horn blowing. Drivers beep whether there is even any reason or not. I am hesitant to react, with finger signs or shouting. One never knows how many handguns they have on the seat beside them.

These days, I am staying in the near west areas such as Newton and Waltham hoping I won’t have to go the Government Center or Fenway. I can do it but then what if I have another request after dropping off? It is always somewhat of a miracle if I can connect with the potential passenger in there.

The big question is, why are there so many automobiles on the streets? It can’t be all that convenient when it takes 15 minutes to move through just one intersection. I guess the answer is that our obsession with being independent has, in the case of transportation, turned into masochism.

Boston has a plethora of public transportation, even water taxis. Wonder how it would go if half the people used them instead of private cars? Heaven.

Slow and steady wins the race

No one would have ever associated the word “meticulous” with me. “Measure twice, cut once”? Ha, not me. Before the days of computers, I was a bank teller once and my claim to (in)fame was that  my drawer never seemed to balance at the end of the day. Can I ever find a tool I need for a little DIY? So what, just go get another one. Well, you get the picture.

The Tortoise And The Hare
That’s me with the carrot

But then something happened, the fault of the stairs.

From the summer of 2015 until this past August, we lived in apartment buildings with elevators. There were of course curbs, steps to a church entrance, and quite a few places where finding the accessible path was mysterious but mainly, I had no stairs to worry about.

We now live in a parsonage that has four levels and a significant set of front and back porch stairs. Oh and, as you might guess, no elevator or ramp. So, along with what might be called ‘normal aging’ unsteadiness, this house changed my approach. I now think carefully approaching the stairs, I make sure I have free hand to put on the railing, and take each step all by itself.

You see, I don’t want to fall. I’ve “been there, done that” as they say. Once a few years ago, I stepped down from the low stone wall in our driveway in New Hampshire and crashed. It always comes as an unbelievable surprise so, being unprepared, my forehead hit the asphalt. Fortunately, I was still conscious and could get to the kitchen for ice. On another occasion, in the Twin Cities, riding a rental bike I attempted to dismount and fell instead. A bit embarrassing but no too serious. Then there was the time, in our apartment parking space, when I tripped on some broken concrete and landed on my knee. The worse part of that one was the hole in my new jeans. (Luckily, my spouse is an expert seamstress so she patched them, at least)

After a certain age, falls become much more of an issue. It is logical but very annoying, if you want to know. The Notorious RBG fell recently and broke ribs. Leonard Cohen’s death was a result a fall. In our family, the person we call ‘Gma’ just fell and broke her collarbone. Not just annoying, but a dangerous thing to do.

Being careful goes against my grain but then again, so does killing myself. Now days, call me, meticulous.

Kavanaugh Accuser Christine Blasey Ford Continues Receiving Threats, Lawyers Say : NPR

Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers say she isn’t interested in publicity or a book deal. She is struggling to get her life back on track following her testimony in the Senate.
— Read on www.npr.org/2018/11/08/665407589/kavanaugh-accuser-christine-blasey-ford-continues-receiving-threats-lawyers-say