Archive for the ‘Bonny Thomas (1965-2019)’ Category

Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany (March 8-April 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Raising of Lazarus

Image in the Public Domain

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A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is one of my hobbies, not a calendar of observances with any force or a popular following.  It does, however, constitute a forum to which to propose proper additions to church calendars.

Much of the Western Church observes January 18 as the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter the Apostle, the rock upon which Christ built the Church.  (Just think, O reader; I used to be a Protestant boy!  My Catholic tendencies must be inherent.)  The celebration of that feast is appropriate.  The Church does not neglect St. Martha of Bethany, either.  In The Episcopal Church, for example, she shares a feast with her sister (St. Mary) and her brother (St. Lazarus) on July 29.

There is no Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany, corresponding to the Petrine feast, however.  That constitutes an omission.  I correct that omission somewhat here at my Ecumenical Calendar as of today.  I hereby define the Sunday immediately prior to Palm/Passion Sunday as the Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany.  The reason for the temporal definition is the chronology inside the Gospel of John.

This post rests primarily on John 11:20-27, St. Martha’s confession of faith in her friend, Jesus, as

the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.

The combination of grief, confidence, and faith is striking.  It is one with which many people identify.  It is one that has become increasingly relevant in my life during the last few months, as I have dealt with two deaths.

Faith frequently shines brightly in the spiritual darkness and exists alongside grief.  Faith enables people to cope with their grief and helps them to see the path through the darkness.  We need to grieve, but we also need to move forward.  We will not move forward alone, for God is with us.  If we are fortunate, so are other people, as well as at least one pet.

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Loving God, who became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth

and enjoyed the friendship of Saints Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany:

We thank you for the faith of St. Martha, who understood that

you were the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who was coming into the world.

May we confess with our lips and our lives our faith in you,

the Incarnate, crucified, and resurrected Son of God, and draw others to you;

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Jeremiah 8:18-23

Psalm 142

1 Corinthians 15:12-28

John 11:1-44

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 18, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE CONFESSION OF SAINT PETER THE APOSTLE

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Christmas, Joy, and Grief   7 comments

Above:  Part of the Christmas Village I Assembled on My Coffee Table, December 20, 2019

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Advent and Christmas are supposed to be happy times, are they not?

They have been for me.  Through last year I found December and the first five days of January to be an almost magical, but definitely sweet period of time.  It was not about presents, whether giving or receiving them.  No, the time was inherently joyous.

This year, however, I have worked harder than usual to find the joy.  My experience has been bittersweet because of two recent deaths–those of Bonny and my grandmother.  I have joined the ranks of those for whom this season is mostly blue.

My prayer for all of us who feel this pain is that, as we work through our grief, is that we will know the peace of God, present with us.  Our feelings may be irrational, but they are also real.  For those of us who strive to be as fact-driven as possible, the reality of emotions we know to be irrational and stubborn is especially is especially difficult to reconcile.  Guilt we know to be misplaced remains a burden.  We cannot deliver ourselves from it.  No, we must turn it over to God.  Yet it persists.

We are all broken; that is the human condition.  We are all broken.  Some of us seem not to know that.  Others of us know it better than others.  We are all broken.  May we trust in God and be kind to each other and ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 22, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK AND WILLIAM TEMPLE, ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CHAEREMON AND ISCHYRION, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, CIRCA 250

THE FEAST OF CHICO MENDES, “GANDHI OF THE AMAZON”

THE FEAST OF HENRY BUDD, FIRST ANGLICAN NATIVE PRIEST IN NORTH AMERICA; MISSIONARY TO THE CREE NATION

THE FEAST OF ISAAC HECKER, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Posted December 22, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Bonny Thomas (1965-2019)

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2020: Best Wishes   2 comments

Above:  The Middle Oconee River at Ben Burton Park, Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, December 8, 2019

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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I find myself at the convergence of turning points as 2019 comes to an end.  On the personal front, I deal with two deaths.  Professionally, I look to the future with a combination of confidence, hope, and uncertainty.  The result will be better than what it will replace, I affirm.  However, I do not know what will happen between now and then.  How long should I remain in Athens-Clarke County?  What I do not know outweighs what I understand.  I know, however, that I must not make rash decisions, especially while I grieve and adapt to my “new normal.”

Experience is a fine teacher.  A wise pupil heeds it.  One lesson experience teaches me is that a grudge is a burden one should never impose on oneself, regardless of how righteous one’s indignation may be.  I acknowledge objective reality.  (Why should I not?) I know that a particular professor at The University of Georgia (UGA) fired a torpedo into the bow of my doctoral program and sank it like the Lusitania.  I also understand that my anger over that example of academic abuse burned out years ago.  Whenever I walk on the UGA campus, I feel simultaneously at home, in a familiar place, yet on virgin territory different from a place I have ever been.  The area does look different than it used to, due mainly to construction on campus.  It is a place I want to call home again.  A relationship, however, has more than one party.

My congregation, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, keeps providing incentives to remain in town.  I am active in the parish, in which I have found my niches.  The emotional and spiritual support members of the congregation have been providing to me since Bonny’s death has become a source of much gratitude.  I can never repay them.  Perhaps I will have opportunities to “pay it forward” in time, not that I seek grief for anyone.

Praying for one’s needs is not sinful, but being selfish in prayer is.  With that in mind, I issue the following prayer:

May God’s best for each person be that person’s reality.  May you, O reader, receive all the help you need and provide all the aid you should.  May the light of God shine in your life, attract others to God, and strengthen the faith of many.  May 2020, by these standards, be a better year for you than 2019 has been.  May it be a better year for all countries, nation-states, peoples, and refugees.  May 2020 be a better year for the planet.  Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KARL BARTH, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; AND HIS SON, MARKUS BARTH, SWISS LUTHERAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HOWELL ELVET LEWIS, WELSH CONGREGATIONALIST CLERGYMAN AND POET

THE FEAST OF JOHN ROBERTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF PAUL EBER, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MURRAY, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Reflections on the Possessions of the Deceased   2 comments

I have helped to clean out two apartments of deceased people since the middle of August.

Last August, in Americus, Georgia, I did much of the cleaning out of the apartment of my maternal grandmother, Barbara Futch, who died at the age of 89 years.  My grandmother was aware that she was leaving much–especially clothing, as well as tubes and bottles of various creams and pills–for others to go through.  However, she lacked the energy level to dispose of more of it than she did.

I knew Bonny Thomas for over a decade.  I also understood that she had a mental illness.  Bonny, under the influence of that illness, became the fifth victim of a police-involved shooting in Athens-Clarke County, since March 2019.  I also knew a compassionate, vivacious woman who had a whimsical side and enjoyed watching films noir with me as we ate pizza and drank coke, and who liked to watch Columbo episodes with me as we at Hamburger Helper.  When she died, on October 14, one pillar of my world collapsed.

Yesterday, a few members (just enough to be about right–not too few, not too many) of my parish and I emptied Bonny’s apartment.  (Her family had taken the last of what they wanted a few days prior.)  Bonny had died, never to enter her apartment or mine again, but her possessions remained.  Most of them have gone to benefit a local charity that helps battered women.

Life is short and precious.  Much of it consists of that which is intangible, which is more important that the majority of that which is tangible.  Nevertheless, packing up and deciding what to do with the possessions of the deceased is an uncomfortable task.  It is also a tangible reminder of that person’s departure.  Completing that task can simultaneously be comforting and sad.  On one hand, the task is done; one can move on from no-longer unfinished business now.  Yet the emotions of loss can come to the fore.

I understand the Roman Catholic fixation on relics of saints.  After all, I keep relics of friends and relatives.  I have two chests and one tall bookcase full of photographs, school annuals, documents, books, et cetera.  That which is tangible, despite being less important than that which is intangible, has power.  The deceased have moved on, but an object one can hold has sentimental value.   Now my archives include relics of Bonny Thomas.  But if I could have her back, I would, of course.

One day (not any time soon, I hope; I love life) my turn to be the deceased will come.  Others will have the responsibility of disposing of my worldly possessions.  I am preparing for that day, with the intention that their task will require just a few hours–the more the helping hands, the fewer the hours.  I live comfortably in about 600 square feet.  My abode has relatively large empty areas in it.  Yet I review my possessions periodically and ask if I should donate to a thrift store or give to a person.  After all, they should be possessions; they should not possess me.  I do not want them to become a burden to anyone, including me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 22, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROBERT SEAGRAVE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF DITLEF GEORGSON RISTAD, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, LITURGIST, AND EDUCATOR

Loss and Transition   5 comments

I have lost two family members recently.

Barbara Futch, my maternal grandmother, died of natural causes at the age of 89 years, in Albany, Georgia, on August 14.  Her death affected me, mostly after I completed the rush of physical activity during the week following her demise.

Bonny Thomas, my dear friend and upstairs neighbor, died violently just outside my front door on the morning of October 14.  She was 54 years old.  Bonny enriched my life by being part of it.  Her absence detracts from my quality of life.

Grief over two losses has merged into a complex of sadness and guilt with which God, work, church, and friends have helped me to cope.  These losses have reiterated what I knew already:  that life is brief and precious, that we ought to look out for and love one another, and that we should never take anyone for granted.  They have affirmed something else I knew already:  I am mortal.

I have no fear of being dead, but I am terrified of certain ways of dying.

Circumstances beyond my control are imposing drastic changes in my life.  2020, on the personal front, will be far different from 2019.  I have faith, pray for wisdom to make wise decisions, and hope for the best.  While I do so, I remember those I have loved and lost.  I also acknowledge that I may never get over their deaths, and probably never should.  I can and should, however, get on with life as I seek and, by grace, find the best way to make my contributions to society at any given time.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 12, 2019 COMMON ERA

Posted November 12, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Bonny Thomas (1965-2019)

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In Paradisum Deducant Te Angeli….   4 comments

Photograph (dated October 27, 2019) by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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BONNY MARIE OGLESBY THOMAS

JANUARY 17, 1965-OCTOBER 14, 2019

Adieu, ma chérie.

Je t’aime.

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Posted October 27, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Bonny Thomas (1965-2019)

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Feeling Lost   4 comments

Seldom do I remember my dreams.

I did not sleep well last night.  In fact, I awoke too early.  My mind was busy, and I could not get back to sleep.  The details of the dream have begun to fade, but the scenario of being lost and not knowing where important items are has stayed with me.

That feeling describes me accurately.

Since Bonny’s death two days ago, I have been in a daze, with occasional moments of clarity.  In a moment I have made the transition from being articulate to being a sobbing mess many times.  I have, however, decided to force myself back into a routine today, for my own good.  I have always needed grace to do my job well, even on my best days.  (All of us always need grace and depend entirely on God.)  Today and the following days I need that grace more than ever.

I bid your prayers also for Bonny’s family and the repose of her soul.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 16, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Posted October 16, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Bonny Thomas (1965-2019)

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