Thursday, December 26, 2019

From the Edge

I am remembering back to my senior year in Seminary, 1955, when Weaver Stevens preached his senior sermon to the Seminary community gathered in the chapel. The time was near Christmas and he talked about the dirty, smelly stable where Jesus was born. A writer for the newspaper who lives in Jackson County recently made the same observation about the birth of Christ being in a smelling place along with unwashed shepherds.

My own experience, raised on an Iowa farm, has no difficulty with the imaging. And I would take the image a step further to say  has truth and learning has a pattern of coming from the margins. In mechanical drawing I learned the vantage point is always off the page. Thinking outside the box makes sense. Some of my best pastoral programs came from the margins, unexpected comments that generated our imaginations for possible outcomes. Having done so in various ways I continue to do that because that is the way to gain wisdom and wisdom gives life meaning. The vision and pursuit were introduced in one of the few books we had in the house when I was growing up. I was a junior in high school and the book of essays with a chapter on wisdom becoming my favorite.

Continuing in a poetic fashion here is a poem for Christmastide;

Christmas on the Edge by Malcolm Guite

Christmas sets the centre on the edge:
The edge of town, the outhouse of the inn,
The fringe of empire, far from privilege
And power, on the edge and outer spin 
Of turning worlds, a margin of small stars
That edge a galaxy itself light years
From some unguessed cosmic origin,

Christmas sets the contre on the edge.

And from this day our world is realigned
A tiny seed unfolding in the womb
becomes the source from which we all unfold
And flower into being. We are healed.

The end begins, the tomb becomes the womb

for now in him all things are realigned.

 to be continued from the edge,

Marlin Whitmer
Retired Hospital Chaplain, now a community facilitator. Maybe global? Ha!

I read this poem before our gatherings of friends and family this Christmas. The twelve days of Christmas makes a good setting. The poem was well received. 

A book received this Christmas as a gift could be said to be from the edge. A gift from an artist who knows of my interest in metaphors. Your way of conceptualizing the world is imbedded in the poem.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Holy Scriptures as parakaleo/Sabbath time

Holy Scripture as the “Called One Alongside" 

It took me over 65 years of Scripture study and reflection to get here. 

That is the exciting part of a relationship. There is no way to know everything in the beginning about another person or the living Word.

I have a story to illustrate. When I was first ordained I was assigned as the curate at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Sioux City. Father Shaner was the priest in charge. Since he had been there 25 years some thought he needed an assistant. There may have been other reasons.

C. B. Chesterman, who had both the coca cola and seven up franchise in Sioux City, Iowa, paid my salary at St. Thomas. To oversee his investment, he and his wife invited me out for dinner once a month at the best restaurant in town, the Normandy on the north side.

I was half time at St. Tomas and half time at St. George’s in LeMars, Iowa, where I lived. The distance between the two was 25 miles, meaning a lot of driving in a year. On Sunday I would have an early service in LeMars and drive to St. Thomas to help at the later service. t 

Back to the Chestermans. I was a newly ordained single clergyman, 25 years old, with a couple in their 80’s, married 60 years, having dinner together. You might wonder if we found anything to talk about even though he was finding out about me and checking up on his investment. After a couple invites I looked forward to our fun evening together. They were a delight. At some point during the first year I asked, “What is the secret to your relationship? You have so much fun together.” Without any hesitation he replied, “We don’t know each other yet.” 

Aha! I have known that about Holy Scriptures over the years. We don’t know each other yet. New revelations have continued to unfold over the years.

A couple weeks ago preparing for the Saturday morning Bible study our reading was from the 15th chapter of Romans.  

These verses jumped out at me. Romans 15:4-6

4 “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. 5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
With comfort we have the Greek word parakaleo, a called one alongside, para / alongside and kaleo / called.
The Beatitude from Matthew’s Gospel, “blessed are those who mourn for they shall have a parakaleo." They shall have a called one alongside.
With parakaleo our relationship with the Scriptures takes on an intimate and personal dimension. I can say after 60 plus years with Scripture, “We don’t know each other yet.” The excitement of the relationship continues with patience, or as other translations say, endurance. 
I relate to Holy Scriptures as a person, I (and there are many personalities and stories there) have an ongoing personal relationship with many, including St. Paul. Like him I too say “through the patience and parakaleo (called one alongside) of the Scriptures” ….  . 
Sabbath time, the time when we gather together, we re-member, we member again, all those who have gone before us. re means again. We use re a lot. rerun, renew, etc. How many can you name?
Marlin Whitmer

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Recovering from Illness

Recovering from illness is a progressive experience depending on the illness. I had a cancer tumor removed from my bladder on the 22nd of October. I had a bladder infection post op which was the worst part of it all and the most debilitating. The infection necessitated a trip to the emergency room where they found considerable inflammation in the abdomen. Before I recovered my electrolytes needed a boast. Drink liquid IV which is a powder I put in a glass of water. The electrolyte deficiency effected my brain for a couple of days. Low sodium they said. My family doctor came to the rescue. My wife, a nurse, was a godsend. This past week I can say I feel better. I am more back to normal going to the Fitness Center exercise group twice a week. I can use the 5 pound bar bells again.

I don't know if I can use the word normal again. The doctor says he is 98% sure they retrieved all of the cancer tumor. The 2% makes the word normal vulnerable.

In the meantime I am grateful the tumor did not invade the wall of the bladder. That seems to be what the doctor verbalizes and that is apparent since his approach with my future care is nothing like a good friend whose cancer tumor was invasive. He is going to the University of Iowa Hospital. He starts chemotherapy next week.

I will have a biopsy on the 7th of January as part of getting a better picture on the future. I have opted to have this done at the Urology Clinic. I opted out of the full surgical approach by going back in the hospital again. Having a catheter in for a time is running the risk of another infection. If nothing turns up from the biopsy I will be monitored every three months.

The surgery for the removal of the tumor did have an unexpected opportunity. I asked for a spinal as the anesthesia. And the doctor who administered the spinal was a doctor I knew. He had given me several epidurals from the herniated disc in my back. That meant I was awake through the procedure and afterwards although they said they gave me something to cause me to not remember. I don't think it worked. When I turned my head left during the procedure a television screen showed the inside of my bladder and the apparatus they were using to remove the tumor. Amazing. I do believe they got it all even the stem that could have caused more damage. After the removal of the tumor I did receive a chemo therapy wash.

I will be back writing blogs again. I will do some reflecting on recovery. Psalm 80 would be a good start. I am going to add a verse from Psalm 90. verse 12

"Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom." This is us and we, I am not doing this alone. You are invited to join in the journey.

I see the number of page views hit an all time high with China and Japan providing readers. I hope they found them a benefit. (back in November now) Now the numbers have dropped off. Perhaps not adding a blog for some time makes a difference. My blog needs recovery time. Recovery becomes a metaphor one can move to more than one place involving more than one aspect of life.

Now in day 28 of January, 2020,  I had the scope procedure in the bladder to see what is happening. There is scar tissue but no cancer or tumor. Again it took over two weeks for the bladder to get back to some normal. Better again. Recovering from a procedure is part of the journey. My next scope is on the 7th of April. The story continues.

retired hospital chaplain

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Musical Hamilton

A beginning reflection on the musical Hamilton

The musical appears to be many stories in one presentation. There is the personal life of Hamilton, there is his political life in the formation of our country, the dynamics with various personalities, the conflict, etc. 

Because he is shot and dies, the play becomes a grief story and ends as a resolution to a grief story when the wife leaves a legacy in his name, especially the orphanage since he was an orphan. As a hospital chaplain who directed a grief recovering group for 17 years you could predict I would see this as a dominant among the other various stories and levels of meaning. Am I sure it isn't the dominant, only the dominant I was left with.

This is definitely a play that wasn’t put together over night. 

From the grief standpoint I was reminded of All the Way Home, a play based on James Agee’s book, Death in the Family. The story is told from the nine year old whose father dies suddenly in a car accident.  I saw the play in New York duing a summer I was serving as the supply night chaplain at Bellevue Hospital. The memory continues. I have some good stories at the night chaplain as well.

Marlin Whitmer

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Liturgy as a theophany for energy, ministry, meaning


The People's "Liturgy" as a theophany for Ministry and Meaning.
As I listen to folks who have ministries outside the walls of the Trinity Cathedral I become aware of how meaningful these ministries are to them. I see ministry connecting with meaning in an ongoing way. This meaning provides a mutual benefit as well as a benediction, i.e. good word for what is happening. One person said, “We are all winners.”

Meaning and Energy.
The conversations reveal another insight. These ministries energize the persons involved. I can feel this energy as they tell their stories. Their stories, treasured outcomes, convey an inner excitement and enthusiasm. One person who was at our listening session said, “We didn’t have enough time.” The energy is such there is more to tell.

Two Levels: Ministry and Language intertwine to form an age-old loop.

Then I had an “aha!” experience. The meaning and energy function on two levels. One level connects ministry and meaning and the other an understanding of language which adds to the meaning.

The level with language involves energy as well. Language is used to convey this insight. Language has been used by mankind to convey this insight for generations. All of a sudden the ministry and meaning activity being manifest becomes connected with what humans have done since their beginning. Here is one example.

Ministry as the people's "liturgy." An Aha! of major proportions.

The Greek word liturgy at the time of the early Christians meant the work of the people. What people did for their civic society was called liturgy. i.e. clean the street. Now we get word play with erg/urg from the centers of energy and liturgy. The word urg in Greek means energy. Energy is both expended and received as we work in a meaningful activity, i.e. ministry. Grace laden.

The early Christians knew about metaphor. They moved liturgy as the work of the people for community to the work of the people at Worship. The Eucharist is our Liturgy where we are fed by the presence of Christ. The Liturgy reads “He in us and we in Him.” We are energized with His presence and we go out into the world to do our work, our liturgy, our ministries, and meanings are renewed and generated anew.

One person said, “where we are fed moves to the community.” The word moves from liturgy in the community in early Greek society to Liturgy in our Worship and now back to liturgy in the community in our own day.

We have come full circle in our meaning and usage in the work we do and the language we use, in Church and in the community, with liturgy and Liturgy. We are one in Him.

To the Glory of God, 
Marlin Whitmer

A sermon describing a theophany.

The Call 11 Pentecost August 25, 2019
 Date added: August 25, 2019

Monday, August 19, 2019

Summary of popular blogs to 8/18/2019


89 Blogs: 7,879 page views, started in early 2017
Still learning about a blog. Had some help when I learned tags are
labels here.

Those with Over 30 page views: 15

Sports Metaphor: A Cup of Tea 49 on 2/11 68
The Sports Page: training ground for
listening training 35 on 2/11 44
An Unforgettable Meeting 53
A huge Aha! From a patient visit 75 on 2/11 77
The Alphabet as Teacher 40
A Mental Health Sermon 45
A Lesson from First Grade 40
Chewing the Cud — Holy Cow 111
Peran a Greek Word 30
Where the Wild Things are 40
The Entertainment Center 75
Learning about the “container” metaphor            164
History of the Befriender Program            34
Listening Triads: speaker, listener, observer            39
"Bottoms Up" has possibilities, i.e. wounded healer

"keep the learning close to the practice." The importance of metaphor
is a dominant theme in most of the popular blogs and a theme that seems to attract. Metaphors are important in every language. Right?.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Work and Windows

I was a hospital chaplain for 28 years and during that time I was the director of a grief recovery group for 17 years. Grief work involves parishes as well. This story applies to more than one situation. At present I would say it applies to the citizens of a nation as a metaphorical process for healing. 

Staying with a Pastoral Story

I want to tell you about LeRoy. His 13-year-old son died of cancer a number of years ago. The son was quite a phenomenon. His mother was his main parakaleo, called one alongside, chaplain, and pastor. I supported her and the father. Mark drew pictures of his illness experience. Before the diagnosis his pictures of nature were tranquil. After the diagnosis of cancer all the creatures had claws and bared teeth. He drew all the stages of dying, if one can call them stages. He called himself a "telephone pole" to reinforce his self awareness about communicating his experience. When I negotiated through his mother to put his pictures on slides he gave permission with the addition, "I get the royalties." He died. And the missing picture was that of acceptance and peace that Dr. Kubler Ross talks about. His mother found it later at home done in pencil and hiding among other drawings. It showed a Russian rocket with a ray gun going over the earth and everything in its path was cracking up and falling to pieces, except the grave stone, with the letters RIP, Rest In Peace. He drew the descent/ascent transformation model. 

LeRoy said at the time of Mark's death, "I don't want my sons death to be in vain." LeRoy came to the Grief Recovery Group. Later he took the Befriender training. He worked with the Grief Recovery Group serving as coordinator for the group with the loss of a child. He did that a number of years plus twice a year he gave the same talk -- each time with energy and meaning. The title of his presentation: "Work and Windows" -- two metaphors. Grief was pure work, energy draining, with aimless wandering. He drew a meandering line going all over the newsprint; down, up, alongside, down and up again, curving around. A person can not grieve all the time. Therefore, you have to take time out. And then he would put windows at different points along the line. He called them "window time" when you look out and see where you have been and what is happening. He would tell his own story and his experiences with the grief group. He shared various feelings and confusions he had known as well as what he learned in those essential "window" times. This was his hermeneutic diagram to interpret and provide meaning for his journey. 

LeRoy is retired now and working with another support group. I said I would like to use the image of "Work and Windows" in my presentations for the Wayne Oates Institute on the healing power of stories. I'll dedicate it to Mark. His death has not been in vain. LeRoy gave permission and thanked me. You can move the "Work and Windows" method to any situation in life. Whatever is work requires a window time for reflection and review. Window time makes for remembering, a chance to make new connections, where opposites are reconciled, Sabbath time. The story is well received in the seminar and feed back affirms the "Work and Windows" story is being told in many different places. 

As we stay with the story, and as we stay with relationships, the work of the staying (Parakaleo - called one alongside) brings new windows and new vistas for seeing (peregranatio - our journey with God). this is equally true in the management field, parish life, or any location for both learning and community building. The health effect is one of being healed and energized. The story effect is one of knowing you are both one and yet part of a larger story: The story of God with the community of humankind. 

Now we are into a methodology for the journey. Work and Windows is old stuff in new clothes. God created in six days with window time each day in the litany. God saw that it was good. God allows for remembering and recollecting. He rested on the seventh day. Sabbath time is a big window. 

I do not recommend the lone ranger approach nor is it healthy to keep our feelings and thoughts bottled up within. Then venting emotions as in dumping on another isn't very helpful either.  I want to promote Work and Windows as both actual and metaphorical for staying with our story for keeping our learning close to our day to day relationships (work), and for sharing our discoveries with each other as a practicing community (windows).

There are a number of ways of talking about the process told in the above story. 

I have been told by a Jewish mystic the Hebrew letters in the word Shalom follow the same pattern. S, shin, with three prongs represents fire which opens the door to understanding. God must be trying to tell us something through different ways to make the same connection, complete, mem. 

We are not always quick to catch on. This is not unlike Jesus use of the Greek word susnesis in Mark 6 where it is translated understand. Understanding requires making connections. Understanding requires interpretation. Starting with us, God wants us to understand at the deepest levels for meaningful lives in serving others.

Marlin, A. P. C. (Ret.)

Monday, July 29, 2019

Reflections on Praying: Luke 11

We have three pots of inpatients at the front door, one large and two small, that are third year cuttings off the original. I know from previous years each cutting seems to increase the blooms. i liken this to the way I study the Scripture from the daily office. The last five years i have been reflecting on verb forms and adjectives in the daily Gospel cuttings. Especially after the crossing over/other side, translation of the word peran, where Jesus and the disciples encounter the storm on Lake Galilee. This account, told differently sometimes, is in all four Gospels. All of us encounter various storms in life. Some bigger than others. They are part of our growing up, our maturation, our transformation, just as the crossing over/other side became part of the disciples transformation. They actually write from the other side, retelling the story before the Resurrection cross over. We too are the same after a significant crossing over.  The afterwards may even change what we remember and resurrect stories long forgotten.

The Collect for today ( Pentecost VII ) connects with these transition experiences, that “we may pass through things temperate that we lose not the things eternal.” 

After beginning a grief recovery group in 1976 where listening to the story was an important part of the healing, I remembered my first grade teacher who listened to my story after I was told my dog Topsy had been run over. (1935) I ran back to the country school to tell Miss Spencer. She is the only grade school teacher whose name I remember, she made a significant difference. She continues to be my earliest source of who makes a difference in a loss. 

This is how all of us add to the Christian story in our own time. I recently read the Alexandrian mystics in the 4th century were very much aware of updating the Christian experience in their own time. We do the same today in the telling of our Faith stories. We update the Christian story.

Turning to the cutting from Chapter 11 in Luke’s Gospel we have an opportunity to update our experiences with Prayer. Prayer life includes our pre existing conditions and a pre existing environment already in process. Luke’s account starts when Jesus receives a request. “Teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.” Quest is part of request. Literally quest again and again. A great title for this Gospel reading. Journey again and again in prayer continuously. I want to amplify and explain and then you can come to your own conclusions. Hopefully, you already Quest again and again in prayer continuously. As each cutting in our Scripture experience blooms we add understanding and insight again and again.. 

Jesus begins teaching with the Lord’s Prayer. In the Lord’s Prayer we have several revealing Greek verb forms. English verb forms are more time oriented. Greek are more action oriented. The Greek present imperative involves continuous action. Give us this day, Give is in the continuous action. Hallowed, forgive, deliver are in the aorist imperative form with a focus on the now.

After the prayer we have a parable. My guess is the story brought a smile to those who first heard it. Jesus reveals himself as a serious clown in the way he tells the story.  What is this? Going at midnight. That gets your attention. And the request for three leaves of bread for a guest. Someone is a big eater. And someone was completely unprepared. We usually pray when we are in a situation where we are unprepared. Vulnerable. The intruding doesn’t get a response from friendship. Rather the The point of the story, Persistence wins out. Aorist imperative, persist in the now. 

This is the first lesson.

Now for the how,  ask, seek (search), and knock. All these verbs are present imperatives meaning continuously. the More conscious I become of this language I visualize my prayers continuing after I say the words. Prayer is a flowing stream that we enter by asking, seeking, knocking, persisting. Like the air we breath, prayer is a continuous environment. Most of the time we are not conscious of our breathing until we take a deep breath or have shortness of breath. Prayer is a deep breath of consciousness and our awareness of need.

Ask, seek, knock, are orientation metaphors. And add persist for your orientation in the now.  This isn’t a smart phone selfie approach to prayer. This is an orientation for continuous questing and reaching out. Our picture is one of the Other with a capital O. This is an orientation for continuous questing and reach out out.

The action orientation of the Greek verbs are very clear about how we orient ourselves for expected outcomes in receive, find, and open. Notice the outcomes are very general. They lack specifics. 

This is the second lesson.

Now Prayer becomes a unitive, at one with the one Being addressed. initiating and outcomes go together, a both and, A being and becoming experience. We exercise our being as we ask, seek, knock, and persist for  the outcomes are part of our becoming, always coming into being continuously.

Luke continues and closes with an essential story amplifying becoming and the unitive. His conclusion is not found in the other Gospels, Prayer is in the context of love. For asking we are not given a serpent or  a scorpion rather the Father will give much more for our asking, The Holy Spirit, our advocate, the one alongside who leads us into truth. 

Prayer is now a radical relationship between ourselves and the Other, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  

This is the third lesson.

On a practical level, Our Book of Common Prayer provides a continuous outcome as a place to ask, seek, knock and persist in the present. The dynamic of the Holy Spirit is present in the daily office along with a host of liturgical and sacramental resources, liturgies for the significant times in our life  Then we have the Christian Year,, the Book of Psalm, special prayers. They all help us connect the dots in our stories continuously, connecting by looking back and adding meaning. Forward is where we ask, seek, knock and as the dots connect we receive, find, and live in a open way. Such is the dynamic of a loving father through the Holy Spirit. Amen

Friday, July 5, 2019

Sports Metaphor: A Cup of Tea

Sports Metaphor: A Cup of Tea


Context is always a part of the story and this metaphor would be out of place with another team and country. But with England tea has a historic context and sipping tea is very English. Since Americans celebrate the Boston Tea Party as pat of our win over England we now have another win with another tea metaphor reminder.

The Sports writer maintains the metaphor all through the article. I won’t send the whole article. We can say he gives us an example of the extended metaphor. 

Des Bieler on July 2 in the Washington Post gave his article this title: Alex Morgan’s goal celebration was certainly not some England’s fans cup of tea.

“Alex Morgan’s goal Tuesday against England accomplished a lot. It gave the United States the decisive margin for a 2-1 win that propelled the team to the Women’s World Cup final, it provided quite the icing on Morgan’s 30th birthday cake and, for those inclined to see the game in the context of impending Independence Day celebrations, her jersey number of 13 neatly matched the number of colonies that banded together in the Revolutionary War.

The goal also made it extremely difficult for some England fans to maintain a stiff upper lip. That’s because Morgan celebrated the tally by doing this:

That’s right, Morgan followed up a goal that ultimately led to England suffering a painful defeat by pretending to sip from a cup of tea. Jolly good troll job!”

Join me in Enjoying Sports Metaphors,
Marlin Whitmer

Thursday, July 4, 2019

A Funeral Homily on Paddy's Journey

Homily for Paddy Blackman: An honor to be asked and a challenge to deliver.

"On my retirement page Patty quoted one of my favorite lines, “To be continued.” I now continue as she requested.

There are many facets to Patty’s life. She is a special person, a Wise woman, committed to family and community, adventurous in running and hiking, deeply relational and Faith oriented in her writing and friendships.  

Running Home: An Across Iowa Journal, a book she and Jennifer Figge wrote when they made their run across Iowa provides us with some insights. 

On the first day, the introduction to her inward journey, she wrote, “Immediately I felt and began thinking about the whole idea of journey, a pilgrimage. The story of the journey is part of every cultures mythology and the journey seemed like life itself.” She joins Abraham in the Book of Genesis, who left Ur, leaving the familiar for the unfamiliar, traveling in stages in the Negev. She and Jennifer, going across Iowa from Council Bluffs to Muscatine, journaling as they went, traveling in stages.

Earlier in the 1980’s Patty made another kind of journey when she took the Befriender training in story listening. She served as a Befriender for ten years, visiting one morning a week beginning with the chapel service,. All were required to debrief before leaving the hospital. During a debriefing after a long visit with a dying patient Paddy said she wished she had known where to refer her. I said I am glad you didn’t know. You would have interrupted her story. Not knowing as knowing is a paradox. She said but my mother stressed knowing. I said today you left home. You let her complete her story and that was good. We will refer to Social Service. 

Knowing was important to Paddy. “I need to know” and “I needed to know” appear twice in the short reflection on the first day of paddy’s Journal within. Then she knows, Journaling is a way of knowing. 

Paddy was part of a writer’s group for many years and in 2012 I needed her to edit some of my writings. After retiring I facilitated a distance learning seminar for the Wayne Oates Institute on the Healing Power of Story Listening.  

I wanted to make a video of my seminar. As an English major she understood our focus on the way metaphors function in story listening. She read my papers previously prepared for the distance learning seminar. At our next meeting she said, “you can’t use these.” That was Patty. Straight forward. “You have footnotes, and you are the footnote. Start with your best stories and use a creative writing style.” That was like starting from the beginning, it was my run across Iowa. Five months later the Healing Power of Story Listening workshop was videotaped in April of 2013. Patty knew what I needed to do.

We all have our stories of knowing Paddy, Those in the family. Those in the community, Review and share your stories more than once. They are part of connecting the dots for a better understanding and a continuing celebration of her life. 

Connecting the dots was Patty’s preferred term for connecting with Scripture stories, the stories of others, and our own stories. She appreciated the insights of the Greek words in the New Testament, parakaleo, a called one alongside, a listening presence. She resonated with the endings of the Greek word for Listen which guide us in how we listen.

Another insight comes from her Journal writing leading to an Aha! Discoveries at the end of our writing are not always anticipated in the beginning. The embedded pattern of a Socratic dialogue can be experienced, helping us to know what we already know but don’t know we know.

I will illustrate with two readings from Patty’s journals.

The one more recent, June 20, and the other comes as the closing lines in her Journaling during the Run Across Iowa.

“Not such a great sleep but back spasms have abated. Gut problems have not. The reality of Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. New time of life—Ah!, precious time and precious life—no time for waning courage or joy—both needed more than ever. Much joy last night at Isabella’s 20th birthday party. Boyfriend Anders—there’s a terrific young man and a total delight. So good to see. Add invited JD which is/was kindness in the flesh and Lois & JD came together. Great evening with all there. I am starting to grieve leaving them all. I love them all so much—such treasures, so unique, so full of life and enthusiasm. I hate to make them sad—I have always hated disappointing people I love. God, how I want them to be happy—as if I have anything to do with it! Well, I still believe I do have something to do with it—Love! And if I am capable, for brief moments, unconditional love which has such power. I want to make it to my 50th wedding anniversary—and not as an invalid, but that might not be in the cards! God’s will. I am starting to feel a force to fight to live—to accept that or try to determine God’s will for me. So many decisions— efforts—to please others and myself—at what cost? Keep pushing or relinquish? Anne MacBurney talked so much about relinquishment in the last years of her life—one by one or maybe in clumps we give up all that we love. It was running and energy and self-image and ability— will I relinquish enthusiasm? But surely I do not have to relinquish love.”

From Paddy’s Across Iowa Journal.
“Our summits appear on individual horizons, in different seasons and at varying altitudes. Whatever my summit may be, whenever it may be, running home seemed but preparation and practice for a bigger run.” 

Paddy has made the bigger run to Eternity. The Lord Bless Her in her Timeless journey." 

Marlin Whitmer, Ret. Hospital Chaplain and founder of the Befrienders.

Special Topics for Changing Times

Listserv to discuss special topics for changing 

This article appeared In the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa Journal for July

The Rev. Cn Marlin Whitmer began a listserv in the Diocese of Iowa in the late 1990s called The Scripture Ministry in Daily Life and it eventually became Ministry Formation Online. The list continued until the end of 2014.

Marlin would like to re-launch that list with a focus on Special Topics for Changing Times beginning with Mental Health and Christian Formation. His interest in mental health comes from an adult son and daughter with severe mental illness. One is presently in a long-term care facility and the other is in a 24/7 group home. Marlin is now on the Scott County Mental Health Court Board. This is a 2 or 3 year program for those incarcerated to become stabilized and receive reduced time/eliminate their sentence. He believes that connecting the dots and networking in the maze of a present piece-meal approach to mental illness is a social justice need in our time and that the Iowa legislature needs to provide proper funding for the continuum of care required with mental illness issues.
To join the listserv, send an email to:

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Guidance for 89 years of age.

Guidance for 89 years of age.

In a previous year’s reflection on the daily office with the Gospel of Luke I noted that Luke takes his concern and the concern of Jesus for the poor right to the final hours of Jesus ministry. We had the Zacchius story in chapter 19, where as a follower of Christ he will share his wealth with the poor, and now as Jesus is teaching in the temple in his last days he observes the widow’s mite, she is giving far more in proportion than those with the means to give more. Her witness is in chapter 21. In chapter 22 Jesus will be arrested and the trial will begin.

At age 89 I admit that I am in the final years of my life, and with two adults, a son and a daughter, with severe mental illnesses requiring a residential 24/7 and a long term care facility at present, I am going to take my concern for the mentally ill into the final years of my life. 

In this time of the last days Jesus uses the Greek present imperatives of continuous, know continuously, take heed continuously, and watch continuously. Other translations are be on guard and be alert, equally important continuous nuances for our here and now time as Jesus talks about the destruction of Jerusalem. 

Greek verbs instruct us on how to act in the present, continuously. I trust each reader and listener will identify a continuous activity to be lived out fully for the good of all.

I encourage the reading of chapters 21 and 22 in Luke's Gospel for your guidance as well.

May God’s blessing go with you.
Marlin Whitmer

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Good Samaritan Story Updated


The Good Samaritan story ending as a continuous beginning.

Luke 10:36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ 37 He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.

Go and do in the Greek language are present imperative verbs meaning continuous action in the present. This does not translate well into English. Therefore we need a new mind, metanoia, to begin thinking and acting in this way. Some already are without knowing about the Greek verb, others may need the Greek verb to move into action. And here is an update for those living in the state of Iowa. 

The Good Samaritan ending as a huge beginning. Are you ready? From the Des Moines Register editorial

“If we see people bleeding, we send every available paramedic, ambulance and physician. When people are emotionally bleeding, they tend to get ignored or discounted.”
This observation by Bruce Buchanan, president and CEO of Compass Clinical Associates in Des Moines, resonates with anyone who has struggled with mental illness or tried to find help for a family member who is struggling. 
Iowa has a long way to go in creating a system of care that works for people. …"