Thursday, June 21, 2012


It was fun to be part of a"practice" telephone survey conducted by students, before they make actual calls to 8,000 households in the Chicago area.  The caller (my student intern at the Episcopal Chaplaincy) advised that I could make up any name, age, address, and occupation that suited me.  So, I said that I worked as a zookeeper. 

Care and feeding of animals?  Yes, I do that.  But I thought about "At the Zoo," one of my all-time favorite Simon and Garfunkel tunes. Some of the lyrics really do describe the church -- on some days, at least:

"Somethin' tells me it's all happening at the zoo.
The monkeys stand for honesty, giraffes are insincere,
And the elephants are kindly but they're dumb.
Orangutans are skeptical of changes in their cages,
And the zookeeper is very fond of rum.

Zebras are reactionaries, antelopes are missionaries,
Pigeons plot in secrecy, and hamsters turn on frequently.
What a gas!  You gotta come and see at the zoo."

I am not, however, very fond of rum.  And I always thought that "and hamsters turn on frequently" was "ancestors turn up frequently."   And I do love the church.   But it's pretty accurate about those orangutans (and I've been one, myself).

Friday, June 08, 2012

A proper celebration

God of time and eternity,
whose Son reigns as servant, not master;
we give you thanks and praise
that you have blessed this Nation, the Realms and Territories
our beloved and glorious Queen.
In this year of Jubilee,
grant her your gifts of love and joy and peace
as she continues in faithful obedience to you, her Lord and God
and in devoted service to her lands and peoples,
and those of the Commonwealth,
now and all the days of her life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The prayer above was used at St. Paul's Cathedral on June 5 in celebration of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.  I used it the previous Sunday at Choral Evensong during the "additional prayers and thanksgivings" near the end of our service.  On June 5, we listened to the rebroadcast of the Queen's Concert, thoroughly enjoying the many shots of +Rowan Williams among the special guests listening to Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, and Queen.

But my real celebration took place earlier that same day, in a local care center.  I called upon the eldest member of our parish, a very proper Englishwoman of  97 years.  Although she rarely goes out, she always is impeccably dressed, often reading a newspaper in her wheelchair.  Some years ago, I saw her move a tiny table in the church about 2 inches, because the table "was not properly placed."  So I was not sure how receptive she'd be to something I'd brought her (in addition to the Choral Evensong bulletin and a copy of the Diamond Jubilee prayer): a bubble wand, adorned with white ribbon, one of several left in the church by a wedding party.

"I've brought you something silly," I said, demonstrating how to blow bubbles.  She quizzically pulled off the cap, looked at me and a friend from the parish whom I'd invited along, and blew bubbles. Her face lit up. Then she giggled in the most delightful way, and I had a glimpse of this 97-year-old as a little girl growing up in England.   That brief visit was my "very proper" observation of Elizabeth's jubilee.  Long may she live.