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

One Year After Bonny’s Death   6 comments

Above:  Bonny Thomas

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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BONNY MARIE OGLESBY THOMAS

(JANUARY 17, 1965-OCTOBER 14, 2019)

My dearest Bonny,

may you have found 

the peace and wholeness

that eluded you on this side of the veil.

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Posted October 14, 2020 by neatnik2009 in Bonny Thomas (1965-2019)

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Fifteen Years in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia   Leave a comment

Above:  Athens-Clarke County, Georgia

Image Source = Google Earth

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I grew up moving with my family every two years, on average.  Since 2005, however, I have lived in Athens-Clarke County.  I have recently acquired my third address within Athens-Clarke County.  I have put down roots.

I moved to Athens-Clarke County on Tuesday, August 9, 2005.  I was about to start a doctoral program in history at The University of Georgia.  My major professor cut me from the program in the Fall Semester of 2006.  This action was unjust.  I was neither the first nor the last graduate student to run afoul of a misanthropic major professor.  I remained in Athens, though, and build a new life.

I have been active in St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church since August 2005.  As time has passed, I have become more active, in different ways.  People have come to think of me whenever a task needs an organized person to complete it.  I have, therefore, come to lead the lectors and the money counters, to choose movies for a film series, and to teach a Sunday School class.  That class has moved to Zoom on Thursday evenings since the pandemic started.

My life has been in a drawn-out transitional state since Bonny died on October 14, 2019.  Her death drew boldfaced double lines through my life, with “before” on one side and “after” on the other.  Parts of my life have fallen away.  I have not regretted the departure of most of them.  I have been in a stage of simplification, reorientation, reevaluation, and rebirth.  The process has not ended.

I wonder what I will become.

I still hope for a new, professional relationship to The University of Georgia (UGA).  I bear the university no ill will.  I also recognize that I am the kind of person who can fit in there, if only someone will answer one of my applications for full-time employment there affirmatively.  I have no relationship to UGA, as of today.  Whether that status will change depends mostly on others.  A university or college campus is my natural habitat.  UGA offers an inviting habitat with many opportunities to put skills and talents to productive use.

2020 has been a terrible year, mainly because of the pandemic.  2019 had been my worst year to date before COVID-19 started spreading as far and wide as it has been doing.

Assuming, for the sake of discussion, that I will be alive and well a year from now, I wonder what my life and the world will be like.  I pray that the answer will be “much better.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 7, 2020 COMMON ERA

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My Eleventh Anniversary of Blogging   4 comments

Above:  Lambda, the Eleventh Letter of the Greek Alphabet

Image in the Public Domain

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I created SUNDRY THOUGHTS on July 27, 2009.  In time, I spun off seven weblogs from it.

Much has changed since my tenth anniversary of blogging.

  1. I have completed and published lectionary-based devotions for dates through the end of church year 2020-2021.
  2. I have spun PUNS BLOG back into SUNDRY THOUGHTS.
  3. I have added more saints to A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.
  4. I have written the episode guide for seasons one and two of Starhunter Redux.
  5. I have written perhaps the definitive episode guide for The Chronicle:  News from the Edge (2001-2002).
  6. I have openly grieved for Bonny Thomas (1965-2019), whose death has forever altered my life.

One does hope to improve with experience.  My recent blog posts are of a generally higher quality than my earliest ones were.  Most of my earliest blog posts no longer exist, nor should they.  When I read an old blog post and think,

I can do better than that,

I may delete that post and seek to do better.

I plans for more blogging.

  1. I intend to return to lectionary-based devotions eventually, of course.
  2. I plan to revise and update A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days off-and-on until I can no longer do so.
  3. I have plans for blogging at BLOGA THEOLOGICAI intend to blog my way through 2 Kings 22-25, 1 Esdras, 2 Chronicles 34-36, Ezra, and Nehemiah, with a portion of Sirach 49 included, in one project.  The spreadsheet for that project constitutes evidence of my detail-oriented nature.  I also plan to blog my way through 3 Maccabees, with a portion of Sirach 50 incorporated into that project.  Furthermore, I plan to blog my way through 1, 2, and 4 Maccabees, with a portion of Sirach 45 included in that project.  The spreadsheet for that project is also ready.  The first and third projects entail parallel passages.  And, given that strict adherence to chronology is not the organizing principle of Ezra and Nehemiah, I will read those books out of chapter-and-verse order.

I have read all 78 book of the Russian Orthodox canon of scripture.  However, I did that more years ago than some of my former students have been alive.  Reading some of these texts again has, therefore, been like reading them for the first time.

Blogging is a hobby and an outlet.  We should all be cautious what we reveal on the internet, which retains everything.  Stories of people fired because of posts on social media outlets abound.  My use of social media is limited.  I belong to my Nextdoor Digest group, for example.  My major contributions to it are helpful hints in response to other members’ questions.  I know I probably will not get into trouble for answering a neighbor’s request for information about which local thrift stores send out trucks to pick up furniture.  Likewise, I know that my weblogs are public.  I hope they edify others at best.  May other posts be merely harmless, perhaps amusing.  Calling a spade a spade, so to speak, is fine; I will not excuse the inexcusable.  However, I seek to call spades what they are without publishing content I should not publish.  And I feel no obligation to express most of my thoughts.

When 2020 began, I had high hopes for it.  So much for most of those!  We may yet save our republic from internal threats to the Constitution of the United States of America–and from one–Donald Trump–in particular.  The Constitution allows for elections, after all.  And we will eventually get through the Coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences.  We will do so sooner if we, as a people, act responsibly.

2020 may yet have a relatively positive end.  We, as a people, must accept our obligations to and for each other, though.  Mutuality must override individualism in the context of a public health emergency.  I do not like wearing a mask in public, but I do so.  This is about what I need to do, not what I want to do.  This is about what I have a moral obligation to do, not what I want to do in an ideal circumstance.

Next year, I hope to write about my twelfth anniversary as a blogger under much improved circumstances.

Be safe and well, O reader.  Take care of your neighbors and, therefore, of yourself.

Peace!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 27, 2020 COMMON ERA

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Moving   Leave a comment

And Preparing for It

I am preparing to move for the first time in thirteen years.  My new home is only four or five miles away, depending on the route, so I will remain in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia.

The time for moving is right.  My lease will expire in fourteen days.  I need to leave my apartment and neighborhood, given how many memories of Bonny permeate both of them.  And, by grace, I have a much better place to which to go.

I have been downsizing in stages consistently since the summer of 2016.  A hoarder’s house scared the hell out of me.  I have never been a hoarder or close to being one, but I have had a burdensome overabundance of certain items.  I have been downsizing again with zeal as my deadline as the gap between my present day and the deadline to move out has shortened.  I resumed immediately after Bonny died on October 14, 2019.  Since that date, I have been extravagantly generous to thrift stores.  I have made plans for one more act of generosity to my favorite charity, Project Safe (which helps battered women), early next week.

My father was a United Methodist minister in southern Georgia, U.S.A..  We moved every two years, on average.  Certain boxes remained unopened and left in storage between moves.  For example, I remember one day, the day prior to a move out of a parsonage we had inhabited for three years.  We were loading the moving truck.  I opened a closet and saw boxes of books.  I remembered having placed those books in that that closet three years prior.  We had not thought about those books for three years.  Yet we moved them again.

I understand why one may choose to keep some items in storage.  I keep family archives, for example.  Good reasons for keeping certain items in storage can exist.  I intend to keep my maternal grandfather’s ring, for example.  Nevertheless, if one can live comfortably without using an item for a year, one should ask oneself whether one should keep it.  My zealous downsizing testifies that my answer has usually been “no.”

My policy with books, for example, is that they belong on bookcases, not in boxes, in the long term.  More than once during any given year, I reconsider my library and decide which books to keep and which ones to send elsewhere.  I choose to impose the discipline of limited book space on myself.  How can I best use that space?

Downsizing can be liberating.  Knowing that my move will be easier than it would have been feels good.  Certain possessions, in proper quantities, can enrich life.  We cannot take those possessions with us when we die, however.  And I have no intention of imposing a great burden upon those who, in time, will decide the fates of my possessions after I die.  Downsizing is considerate and respectful of them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 17, 2020 COMMON ERA

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A Few Reasons I Am Grateful   Leave a comment

I am grateful for many reasons.  If I were to do nothing but count all of them and elaborate on each one, I would spent much time doing so.  I have learned that the best way to proceed is to focus on a few at a time.

A few reasons I am grateful follow.

I grateful that experiences of great loss become opportunities of grace.

Grace is free, not cheap; it carries with it the obligation to extend grace to others.  I seek such opportunities.

Bonny died last October 14.  Her sudden, violent death has created a persistent, open wound in my psyche.  I have accepted that I will never be the person I was prior to that fateful morning.  My life changed that day.  Since then, parts of my life have been stripping away.  I have learned more clearly the distinction between the necessary and the desired.  That has been a form of grace.

And, just as I have learned who my friends really are, I have gained experiences I can use to help others experiencing their own emotional traumas.  I have begun to wonder to whom God may send me so that I may, out of my pain, contribute to healing.

I am grateful for my parish.

De facto, I have belonged to St. Gregory the Great the Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, since August 2005.  My membership transferred slightly later.  For nearly fifteen years, I have, so to speak, become part of the woodwork of my church.  I have assumed leadership roles (usually ones I did not seek) and formed relationships.  This parish has seen me through the darkest times of my life and functioned as a vehicle of grace.  Individual parishioners have also prevented me from falling too far into the abyss and proven that I am not alone.  They have taken care of me when I have needed that.

As long as I reside in Athens-Clarke County, I will remain part of St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church.

I am grateful for necessities fulfilled.

I had plans at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020.  They were rational plans, not half-baked, magical thinking.  Then the pandemic and its economic fallout derailed those plans.  Through it all, I have never been at risk of going hungry, becoming homeless, and not being able to pay my bills.

The fulfillment of necessities continues by a variety of means.  Words are inadequate to express my gratitude.

I am grateful for a better understanding of what constitutes a necessity.

Simple living is a blessing.  We live, we accumulate, and we die.  Then others decide the fates of our worldly possessions.  Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions, although one does need certain possessions.  Taming one’s appetites for consumption is a good spiritual practice.

Now that I am in the midst of packing to leave my apartment, full of memories that grieve me, I am grateful to rid myself of many possessions.  My identity is in God, not my stuff, for lack of a better word.

I am grateful for the joy that comes from serious Bible study.

I have spent hours at a time studying texts, consulting commentaries, pondering what I have read, taking notes, and synthesizing ideas.  I have derived much pleasure and fulfillment from doing so.

I am grateful for wonderfully bad movies.

I mean movies that are so bad they are good.  If they make Ed Wood flicks seem like plays by William Shakespeare by comparison, so much the better.  We all need harmless, escapist pleasures, do we not?

I am grateful for good movies.

Casablanca, Citizen Kane, and John Huston version of The Maltese Falcon, among other fine films, enrich my life.

I am grateful for my intellectual nature.

I descend from a long line of bookworms.  I am suited for life in a college or university town.  I recall the intellectual stagnation and the anti-intellectualism of many of the communities and small towns in which I grew up and my father served as a minister.  I cannot honestly deny that these experiences helped to shape me both intellectually, spiritually, and politically.

I would starve intellectually and spiritually in many towns and congregations.

I am grateful for the Incarnation, the life of Christ, the crucifixion, and the Resurrection.

Thereby came the atonement.

 

I saved the best for last.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 9, 2020 COMMON ERA

The Fourteenth   2 comments

Bonny's Grave January 21, 2020

Above:  Bonny’s Grave, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, January 21, 2020

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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The fourteenth day of any month has become painful for me.  February 14 (St. Valentine’s Day) has become almost unbearable.

Consider these facts, O reader:

  1. Bonny moved into the apartment upstairs from mine on February 14, 2013.  I had helped to make the arrangements as she was preparing to leave the mental hospital in Augusta, Georgia.  Getting her back to Athens (where she had lived since the early 1990s) and around familiar faces was important.
  2. Bonny’s initials were “BOT.”  Every year, I bought her a small box of chocolates.  My favorite top was the one with an image of a robot and the text, “I LOVE YOU A BOT.”
  3. Barbara Futch, my maternal grandmother, died on August 14, 2019.
  4. Bonny died on October 14, 2019.
  5. My new upstairs neighbors claimed Bonny’s former apartment yesterday.  They have started moving boxes, et cetera, upstairs.

I was not celebrating yesterday.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

Posted February 15, 2020 by neatnik2009 in Bonny Thomas (1965-2019)

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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 mental illnesses.  Bonny, under the influence of those illnesses, 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 ate 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