The Smell of the Harvest

In her opening post to St. James West Hartford’s online book study group, Bishop Laura asks, “Where have you smelled or tasted God’s presence?. Perhaps the most obvious answer is in receiving the Eucharist on Sunday morning. It is a time where we stop and try to become more aware of God’s presence in our lives.

I often think . Perhaps the most obvious answer is in receiving the Eucharist on Sunday morning. It is a time where we stop and try to become more aware of God’s presence in our lives.

I often think the phrase from 1 Corinthian’s, “do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” While we may think of this in terms of ‘this’ being the celebration of the Eucharist, I would like to suggest that every meal we have, every drink we have with our meals should be done in remembrance, remembrance not only of the crucifixion and resurrection, but of the simple fact, to borrow a phrase from Godspell, which I’ve been listening to a lot recently, “All good gifts around us are sent from Heaven above”.

This leads to a broader answer to Bishop Laura’s question. The bread we use at the Eucharist might not remind us of fresh baked bread, but there is something divine, literally, about the smell of fresh baked bread, another reminder of God’s love for us.

And the bread that we eat, comes from the grain that is harvested. These days, we many of us many not experience the smell of the harvest. Perhaps we experience it here or there, in the smell of apple cider or pumpkin spiced lattes. Maybe the smell of newly fallen leaves reminds us of the harvest.

The harvest is near. It has a beautiful aroma of God’s love for us.

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Recently, I wrote about Discrenment MOOC as a place where I, and others, could explore together in the discernment process. I am still hoping to explore that, but I suspect some of that may be a little too specific. So, I’m expanding the idea to #FaithMOOC. There are lots of places information about faith online, but I haven’t found a lot of community around exploring faith online.

I have been following certain sites, like Water Daily and theSearchforReal. and The Desert Retreat House. I’m sure there are others out there.

Yet this week, I found Searching For Sunday: Forward and Prologue. It is an online book study which will have weekly questions, and hopefully some good discussion online. Time permitting, I hope to respond to the questions and share ideas on my own blog, in a typical connectivist MOOC manner.

My online wanderings also led me to the e-Formation blog. I haven’t explored that site much yet, but it is on my list. I am also looking forward to a meeting on Thursday where I’ll hope to get even more ideas.

I’ve also enjoyed using The Lectionary Page to shape some of my reading. Today was the feast of St. Matthew. Tomorrow is the feast of Philander Chase, Bishop of Ohio, and of Illinois, former rector of Christ Church, Hartford, and founder of Kenyon College.

Where will this lead? I’m not sure. Yet to try to encourage conversation, let me ask, what online faith resources have you found most interesting?

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My Cartoon Superheros

A friend posted on Facebook

I intend to fill Facebook with comic book heroes to fight the saturation of negative images, videos, and just for fun! Give me a like and I'll assign you a character.

I liked the post and was assigned, The Tick. I don’t really know anything about The Tick, but I posted an image, and got lots of responses. “Spoon”. One person commented about The Tick being the first stupidhero. However, I believe that that title properly goes to Captain Klutz, which I enjoyed when I was young.

Another friend posted,

I intend to fill Facebook with Comic Book Heroes for childhood Cancer Awareness. Give me a like and I'll assign you a character.

I liked that post as well and was assigned Iron Man, another character I don’t know very well. I haven’t updated my profile to Iron Man yet.

Of course all of this raises interesting questions. Does images of The Tick or Iron Man really fight the saturation of negative images? How much does it raise awareness of childhood cancer? Does raising awareness translate into action? Reports of the breakthroughs in fighting ALS funded by money raised from the ice bucket challenge gives me some hope.

Perhaps this post will do a little bit as well. What fun images from comics do you remember? For me, it is less about the superheros. As a kid, I always read the comics in the North Adams Transcript, an afternoon paper I delivered when I was young. On Sunday afternoons, I would read the comics from the Springfield Republican. My father had grown up near Springfield and we got the Republican at McNichol’s store, on our way home from church on Sundays. If we were lucky we might get donuts as well.

The comics I remember are Peanuts, Beetle Bailey, Nancy and Sluggo, Blondie, Family Circus, and Pogo. Later, I would start reading Calvin and Hobbes, and Doonesbury.

On Saturday mornings, we would watch cartoons on television. We didn’t get a television until I was around 7. I remember the first show I saw on television. It was Underdog. On Saturday mornings we would watch Roadrunner, Tom and Jerry, The Pink Panther, and other shows that have slipped my mind.

I don’t watch much television anymore and I don’t get a paper anymore. I read my news online. McNichols is no more. After church, I stopped at a nursing home where I lead a Morning Prayer service from time to time. One of the women there was confused. She kept getting up, looking for her parents. I suspect she had Alzheimer’s. One man spoke about having Parkinson’s.

My grandfather died of Parkinson’s. I remember stories of him asking my uncle to help him escape. My aunt died of Parkinson’s. My cousin told me that it was a blissful Parkinson’s.

I hope to be blissful in my final days. I hope that sharing fun cartoon images will help counter the negative images we see so much of, and perhaps even help raise awareness of childhood cancer.

If I were to write a cartoon, I might go for some combination of the simple happy childhood cartoons I remember. I might mix it up with a little bit of the wit and wisdom of Calvin and Hobbes. Perhaps my superhero’s would be an old man in a wheelchair, struggling against Parkinson’s and his partner, a you child, also in a wheelchair, struggling against some sort of childhood cancer.

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A Day of Rest, Sort of ...

This morning, I got up around the usual time to tend to the animals. I cleaned the kitchen a little and did a run to the dump. Fiona was supposed to go to a bat mitzvah and I hoped to get the weekend chores done before she had to leave.

I got home and found her resting on the couch. Last week, she slipped a disk and has been in a lot of pain. Too much pain to make it to the bat mitzvah. So, I sat down and responded to more posts on Facebook.

At noon, C-Span streamed the New Hampshire Democratic Convention. I watched some of that and posted about it on Facebook. In between, I ate leftover and rested. Martin O’Malley referenced “The River’ in his speech

Is a dream a lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse

It seems now, more than ever, we need days of rest, we need reminders to stop and appreciate the beauty of what is around us, we need hope to cling on to.

I’m still tired. It has been a busy week. Fiona is still in pain. I haven’t gotten as much done around the house as I would like, nor have I done enough writing.

So I will rest. I will enjoy what I can of the weekend.

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The Republican Congress and Domestic Violence

The other day, I was listening to the director of a local domestic abuse shelter talk about domestic violence and pregnancy coercion. Abusers often try to control the reproductive choices of the women they are abusing. If you have a child together, you are tied together for life.

An article in the National Library of Medicine, Pregnancy coercion, intimate partner violence, and unintended pregnancy, puts it this way:

Studies have highlighted the association between partner violence and unintended pregnancy. Recent evidence suggests these associations co-occur with reproductive control, i.e., male partners’ attempts to control a woman’s reproductive choices.

The article goes on to note:

Family planning clinics provide an important venue for examination of these phenomena, as family planning clients are known to experience a higher prevalence of partner violence than the general population

All of this comes to mind as I read about the Republicans in the House of Representatives “attempts to control a woman’s reproductive choices” especially when it comes to an effort to defund the family planning clinics of Planned Parenthood.

I am not suggesting that the Republicans in the House of Representatives are domestic abusers, although I sometimes wonder about several of them. However, they are acting in a manner that could enable domestic abuse and lead to more unwanted pregnancies.

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