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Mary Jane Haley has died

Someone who knows me has died.  She knew me and cared for me.  We had connected in the way that you don't connect with absolutely everyone.  

Partially, that connection because I had been there during a dark moment in her life.  I had been able to help bear her through it.  I preached about this, told this story, last March.  You can read that here.

"Being born through the dark nights of our lives is NOT something we can do on our own. We must bear each other."

One of those people I could rely upon to bear me, because she knew me and cared for me, has died.  And I am sad.  Very sad.  I have cried and would really like to let loose and wail.  I will find the opportunity to do that.

Last autumn her daughter Mary Ann told me they had put Mary Jane in hospice, and I told Michael I wanted to make one last visit.  I tried to fit it into my fall schedule, but it seemed so full.  Then I thought maybe I'd make it over there during Christmas vacation, but the timing didn't work.  Everyone once and a while I thought of it again and the need to make some trip to NW Arkansas, to see others as well.  I regret I didn't actually make it happen.  I could have made it happen.  Oh well, I must simply let that go.

Is it funny that a twenty-something young man should find such a deep friendship and connection with an eighty-something widow?  One of those relationships that doesn't need regular communication to sustain it, but simply is rich and deep and full of joy whenever you see one another.

It shouldn't be funny.  It is part of our humanity, part of our Christian faith.  

She was so wonderful to Michael too when I introduced them at lunch a few years ago.  Such a delight to spend that time with her that day at AQ Chicken on our way through Fayetteville.  How long ago was that?  I wish she could have made the wedding, but she wasn't travelling distances by that time.

In a children's sermon I once asked her why she still went to church after all these years.  She looked at me aghast.  There wasn't even a question.  This is simply what one did.  It was important.  I loved the response.

She was stubborn and loyal and faithful and sharp and witty and opinionated and hopeful and a lover of music and my friend.  And I grieve her death.

6th Day of Christmas

Traveling from Mom's to our house we pass through five states.  Drive north through Oklahoma into Kansas, at Kansas City cross into Missouri, drive I-29 through northwest Missouri and the southwest corner of Iowa, and then finally cross into Nebraska at Omaha.

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Because we had the freedom to break up the drive back this time, we elected to stop in Fort Scott for lunch and to tour the National Historic Site.  This fort tells some compelling stories of the frontier.  It was established to guard the "permanent frontier" between the US and native nations.  Troops from there fought in every battle of the Mexican War.  The town of Fort Scott featured in the Bloody Kansas years of fighting between pro-slavery and free soil settlers.  It was the Union headquarters for this region during the Civil War.

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Reaching Kansas City we elected not to shop, but drove around old neighborhoods looking at houses.  Then we had dinner with college friends of mine and their families.  

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We made it home around 10 p.m. and ended this fulfilling Sixth Day of Christmas.

5th Day of Christmas

Uncle Scotty to Jacob: "I have to leave in a bit in order to go to a funeral.  Do you know what that is?"  Shook head.  "A funeral happens when someone dies.  The mom of one of my friends died, and it is her funeral."

Jacob:  "Did she go to heaven."  Me: "Yes."
Jacob:  "Do all good people go to heaven when they die and all bad people go to the bad place?"
Me:  "Some people believe that.  When you get to be old enough, you can study that and decide for yourself."  (I didn't give my own views, as I didn't want to confuse any spiritual formation from his parents, though if he had asked me what I believed, I would have given him the direct, honest answer.)

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So, the fifth day of Christmas, I left the family for a few hours to attend the funeral of Kay Mocabee, the mother of my friend Sharon.  Kay died the second day of Christmas, and I was glad to be near home so that I was able to attend.

That morning we had gone fishing.  Actually, Jacob was the only one who fished, and he didn't catch anything.  But he had fun, and we had fun watching and tagging along.

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That evening Jason and Amie (who had also attended the funeral) drove down to Mom's, and we hung out till midnight with lots of laughing and sharing of stories.

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3rd Day of Christmas

It has become my custom in the last half-decade or so to buy myself books after Christmas.  Based on end-of-the-year best-of lists and recommendations from friends, I buy a few books at Full Circle Books (I'm still collecting and filling up the cards that turned in give you a $30 value; I filled another one up this week, so will look forward to cashing it in, though it will be months from now).  This year I selected The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.  This annual tradition is one of my favourite things to do during Christmastide and was one of the highlights of the third day of Christmas this year.  And we ran into Kristen McCarty at Full Circle.

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Driving over to Full Circle, we went through the medical campus to see the new OMRF building and then down to see the new I-40 pedestrian bridge and back through downtown.  After Full Circle we made a much needed visit to Big Truck Tacos and lunch with Rob Howard and Tarae McDonald.  If you have still not eaten at Big Truck despite all my many writings about it, then you are missing out.  And this even goes for those of you who don't live in or around OKC.

In the afternoon I met up with Mekado Murphy (in visiting from New York City) and Doug Bradley at Sara Sara Cupcakes.  I had an unused gift card to use there.  When I handed it to the checker she said, "This is old."  My favourite thing about Sara Sara is the milk bar.  You get a frosted mug and have all-you-can-drink white, chocolate, and strawberry milk.  Oh, I had a coconut cream cupcake.

Mekado brought us up-to-date on films and told about his interview with Steven Spielberg.  We discussed politics and religion and our views of the future.  Doug asked me what I was most concerned about in 2012, and I said that we would continue to settle for mediocrity.  I also informed them that despite always being an optimist, I am not optimistic anymore and think that life will get more difficult than it has been or that I've planned for it to be.  At the same time, I said that this is an exciting and adventurous time to be in parish ministry, pastoring through all the cultural challenges.

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After dinner Michael and I walked around the Myriad Gardens at night enjoying all the new lights.

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We spent the rest of the evening with his parents, and I finished the Julian Barnes novel I had purchased that morning!

Former Congregant is "Hot Slut of the Day"

Michael sent me this D-listed link for the Hot Slut of the Day.  I knew I should try to watch The A-List: Dallas because surely there would be people I knew.  Low and behold, Brayden!  Brayden was a member of Cathedral of Hope-Oklahoma City when he was a college student.  He arrived at church when he was 18, even performed in drag once at a church fundraiser.  He partied at my house many times.  

Favourite 2011 Photos of Friends & Family

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8.  I really like the humourous look on Aunt Jackie's face.

7.  The Farmers' Market is fun throughout the summer.  I like the framing of this picture of Amie, Michael, and Jason tasting honey.

6.  We went to the Max, a gay club, with Brandi and were annoyed by all the straight couples.

5.  Daniel taking a photo of a gorilla.  I like the cool composure of the gorilla, and his slight turn of head to see what's happening inside with the humans.

4.  Revis introduces Michael to his new dog, Miss Daisy.  I just love the smile on Michael's face.  

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3.  Michael and his mom spent a lot of time cooking together.  Here they are making lumpia.  Look at the happiness on Michael's face.

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2.  There were lots of great pictures from Michael's mom's visit.  I had to narrow down.  This one is with our friends Bob and Gerry and the hat that Gerry had worn to Kris and James's National Hat Day Party.  Michael won the prize that night, and Gerry has told the story all year about his dismay at losing.  He left the hat in their dining room all year so that it could be a conversation piece.  Ninfa decided to put it on, which I'm sure Gerry and Bob counted as something of a triumph.

And my favourite friend and family photo of the year also comes from the Omaha Zoo.

Holy Saturday 058


Okay, one final post related to Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates.  And this comes from the acknowledgements at the close of the book.  Yeah, that usually boring section. 

Among others, Sarah Vowell thanks:

  • Nick Hornby
  • Ira Glass
  • Reza Aslan
  • J. J. Abrams
  • Brad Bird
  • Dave Eggers
  • Jake Gyllenhaal
  • Spike Jonze
  • Catherine Keener
  • David Sedaris
  • Zadie Smith

Now, doesn't that sound like a crazy, fun, witty, brilliant group of friends and associates?  I mean really.  I'm sorry, but it made me really envious.  Jealous even.

The First Saturday in December

What a wonderful first Saturday in December it was.  Wouldn't you agree?

In the late afternoon we met up with Ben & Daniel at City Arts Center for the annual pottery sale.  Michael and I finally found a cookie jar -- we've been looking since last Spring.  Michael also picked out a few other things he liked.  They currently have two fantastic exhibits.  One is the art of Donald G. Longcrier.  His installations have texture which tempts you to touch and play with them (though you shouldn't, of course).  Some of these pieces belong in a museum of contemporary art, they are that nice.  The other exhibit is the UCO design students' senior show, filled with imaginative, exciting presentations.

After some early evening coffee, we then headed to Cafe Picasso, the new restaurant in the Paseo, where Galileo's used to be.  We were very impressed.  Both appetizers we ordered, the pretzel and the sampler (humus, tampenade, and spinach dip) were very good.  Michael and Ben really enjoyed the Chicken-Fried Portabello Mushroom.  Now we have a new neighborhood favourite.

Dinner was followed with a stop by the Christmas party and ornament sale at the Red Cup.  Michael and I purchased a knitted red cup, in memory of that being the location of our first date.

We then went driving around to look at Christmas lights.  We were in Crown Heights and decided to stop and carol our friends Jill & Brian.  As we pulled up to their house, the neighborhood watch truck was behind us and turned on his lights.  He came up to the car and asked what we were doing because he had been following us for several blocks.  We said we had been looking at Christmas lights and were now stopping to visit our friends. 

Now we had a funny story for the evening.  Jill and Brian enjoyed the story and the singing and gave us wine.

Wendi McClintic

Wendi mcclintic0001 Wendi McClintic, who graduated Miami High School with me in 1992, died over the weekend.  She committed suicide.  Only two members of our class have died (that I'm aware of) and both by suicide.  This disturbs me, especiall since Wendi and Heath were both, as teenagers, such joyful people.

Wendi laughed and giggled all the time, but what I remember her most fondly for was her sneeze.  Wendi had the most delightful sneeze I've ever heard.  Whenever she sneezed in class, the entire room would immediately laugh.  There would always be this massive build-up to the sneeze, the inhalation of vast amounts of air.  You prepared yourself for a violently loud exhalation.  But what came was an incredibly high-pitched and gentle "tchew."