Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday Evening

Sunday Evening
Originally uploaded by brotherdan44.

Frustrations continue. After several hours of work on my Scotts Riding lawnmower (only 4 years old) it looks like it is a goner! Looks like engine needs replacing. And Janet is still suffering badly.

The picture is of the evening sunset. Compline: "Lord we need your help. Please look after us and guide us with your wisdom of what to do next."

How do you deal with frustration?

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Monk's Pilgrimage

Tolstoy "left behind his family for an ascetic's wandering." (Tolstoy Park p.54)

Monastic spirituality has been one of the precepts of the emergent movement. In part it indicates a silencing of the wind.

The noise of the world has exceeded our limits of understanding. On each corner is an advertiser with hands uplifted begging for money; for the poor, the hungry, the corporate executive to increase his stock portfolio and buy a new condo.

We have become overburdened with things. And the more we own the more time we spend just keeping it fixed. Like today, my lawnmower will not start. I have to call a repairman and a lawnmower service to mow my grass. Yesterday it was the computer that died. You get the picture.

The wedding of spirituality and the U.S. religion do not mix, though many think they are synonymous. This is the weakening of the American character, a statemate with the status quo.

Unfortunately, church is played the same way. If you "ain't growin" something is wrong with the preacher. But what about the av erage service of a growing church. 30 minutes standing full of praise hymns, a great rock solo, and a happy sermon. After a while one wonders 'what is this all about?'

This is where the monastic spirituality fits. Some people have tired of the gimmicks, the jump up and down songs, the fake advertisements, and the meatless sermons. They instead long for a place where one in silence can listen for God without the latest news, where even the weather is a champion of the spirit.

Yes, monastic spirituality is a longing for God. It is a quieting of the bombastic spirit of our day, a running away from a diet of Fox News and Cnn News. It is a longing for much more silence and wisdom, thus, like Henry Stuart of Tolstoy Park, moving to Alabama to finish his days, it is park of a monk's pilgrimage.

Why are you drawn to the contemplative life?

Thanks Aimee.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Home and Don't Forget Patti's Restaurant

Finally got Janet home from the hospital last night after 9. She is still weak but hopeful on a road to recovery. In Tolstoy Park, Henry reflects on the things that meant the most to him related to his wife. Though she has been gone for 3 years as he closes up the house forever he is reminded of her. He says:

"Henry had imagined, when he had begun its construction, that there would be lazy afternoons spent reading on the porch until twilight, with Molly seated nearby. They would talk and perhaps read passages to each other, and he would arise and go quietly inside to prepare some tea. May she would bring out a plate of scones she'd made the evening before. They'd close their books and watch the silent red setting of the sun behind the hills. Then Molly would rise and pat the back of his hand and say it was time for them to go inside. Henry would nod and tell her he would be right in, and she would kiss the top of his head lightly before going in to warm up the kitchen with some supper for them." (p. 44 Poet of Tolstoy Park)

As I read that I realized the things I would miss about Janet. The evening walks we have taken through the years, usually a little before sunset depending on the heat. Eating out. We like to eat out and talk. I always have the seat looking toward the door. She takes the one looking toward me. Her laughter is always the most contagious thing she does. When she laughs it always makes me smile. Sometimes her giggle is sorta amazing. Through the years walking on the beach, holding hands when we pray together at church, and the nighttime kiss with an I Love You that goes with it. And, oh yes, sometimes she hums and doesn't realize she is doing it. That is when I realize she is the happiest!"


I just got an email this morning from someone who is celebrating there 49th Anniversary.They are going to Patti's for the meal. You might check out my website about Patti's. Patti's Restaurant
And here is the email:


I was surfing for Patti's Restaurant and came upon your website and article about the place. What a fun article. Made me want to run out and buy a pig.  But, alas, I would be 95 years old when that pig met his maker. Sure am glad you put that bit of info in about the age of a pig's demise.

Today is mine & Bob's 49th anniversary and why I was surfing. I think we're going to head on over to Patti's for a late lunch.  We live in Poplar Bluff, MO, which is about 3 hours from there.  Those pork chops are definitely worth the drive.  While we're there, we want to check out Calvin Swine.

Thanks for a fun start to my day.

Mary Joan Dickerson


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Keeping Up

Alan Creech has a great blog note on Thomas Merton. So pleasecheck it out!


Many of you added the five books you would take if you had to limit your library. The book of Jennifer Lash is titled, "On Pilgrimage." I was also interested how many choose The Imitation of Christ as one of the books. I might have to do the same. It certainly rates up there.

With my wife still in the hospital it reminds me of the Tolstoy Book. Henry Stuart (who the book is about) lost his wife 3 years before he moved from Idaho to Alabama. He was never the same after her death. Wives are like an appendage, we too often take them for granted. They are just THERE ! and we forget to realize that THERE means more than we recognize.

Seeing Janet sick has been tough on all of us. Sickness causes schedule changes. Eating habits are difference. We are always "picking up something." Or someone calls and wakes us during the night. Life becomes a mystery.

"Know the great void where all things begin," says Rilke as quoted by Stuart. "Oddly, before Molly died," Henry continued, "indeed, before anyone knew she was ill, early one morning I walked in brown study all the way to Gentry Creek and back wondering just what I'd do if Molly died before me. I got ahead of her parting from me, Will." (p.23 Tolstoy Park)

This came home to me last night. I visited the funeral home for a woman in her early sixties who had never been sick in her life. Last Wednesday she woke up sick and died 4 days later. It was a quick and difficult loss for her family.

I don't know if we can really prepare for those unexpected events in life. What do you think?

And Jennifer Lash has two famous sons who are actors. WHO ARE THEY? Answer tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


My Poet of Tolstoy park has been side tracked with my medical problems for the past four days, finally resulting in my wife being admitted to the hospital last night. Would appreciate your prayers during this time !!

In my last reading the hero of Tolstoy Park is about to leave Idaho. He is deciding which books to take from his library. He finally finalizes taking 2-3 books. These include Rilke's Poems and two books of Tolstoy, forgot the names but will let you know later, that had been written in Russian. And we were all surprised to determine that he learned to read Russian in its original language so he could understand Tolstoy. By the way he did have 28 full volumes of all of Tolstoy's works which he gave to one of his sons.

It made me deal with the question: IF YOU COULD ONLY TAKE 5 BOOKS OF YOURS SOMEWHERE WHAT WOULD THEY BE? I have been struggling with that question. Four books stand out now: The Intimate Merton, Bible, Jennifer Lash's book about her pilgrimage to Compostelo, and I will add a couple of more later.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Final Journey- Or Emergent Burnout

I am reading The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer. It describes a man with a year to live in his life. He surprises everyone by leaving his home in Idaho and moving to Fairhope, Alabama. Forgive me if for the next few days I share some of his journey and mine as well.

This book has already caused me to re-read some of A.N. Wilson's biography of Leo Tolstoy. I am reading the chapter titled The Holy Man, the story of Tolstoy's spiritual struggles as a enters the ending phase of his life. Perhaps Tolstoy's story is our own as well. At least that is something to think about.


Alan Creech's recent blog on emergent burnout has stirred some tiny questions in my mind. What validities is he really talking of? Sure, we all tire of some things, particularly those things in which our vision is incomplete.

For instance, the form of the emergent church is both its strength and weakness. At its best its a group of spiritual intact bloggers scattered across the world tackling the spiritual needs and nuiances of their own lives. At worse it has no apparent organization, no church buildings, scattered leaders --Jordon Cooper, Talkskinnykiwi, and the Spencer Burke's of the world --and worthy critics questioning its very existence. No wonder there is confusion and discouragement among the troups.

So, what has this to do with Tolstoy? Everything! It is where life ends or begins, with the struggle to understand the beginnings, an important point of each of our own lives. And then to convert our lives into a purity of intent worthy for the master's use. And yes, along the way, we may cry out with Solomon, "it is the pursuit of the wind." And that is precisely IT ! But it does have meaning, right? And distance and life and struggle that will be worthwhile.

What do you think? Is not this rather the starting point not the ending point?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Stressed Out and Thoughts of the Mothership BBQ


Yes, we all have our difficult days. Days when we are misunderstood, days when things tear up, and days when things just don’t go right. For me, my most difficult days relate to patients who are dying. Death can be traumatic for a family and others involved (doctors, nurses, chaplains, etc). Many times I have had several deaths occur on a single day. I have found myself lost in a sea of grief, sometimes even weeping myself over the loss of a patient to whom I have grown close. So Dan, what do you do when you are stressed beyond your capacity to keep going?

To respond I have a mental list of helpers. These are people I go to when I have been through some difficult patients and days of trial. There is a common thread through each of these persons. They usually can tell when it has been tough. They will hug me, some make coffee for me, others bring me blackberries, and some make banana pudding. These persons can ALL appreciate humor, realize how imperfect I am, can make light of even the most critical event, and invite me to their parties. They are usually intelligent in areas in which I am interested, rarely give me advice, know how to take the seriousness of our business and turn it to a morbid humor, smile good, and are genuinely glad to see me.

Through the years Larry Brumfield has been a big help to me. At certain undefined times, when stress may have gotten to both of us, we eat lunch together. Our lunches started out with the goal of eating at every meat and 3 in town. That has gone by the wayside. Now it is mostly at any new diners delight place we hear of. We have learned through the years that eating at a place with valet parking is not the place for us and that, even though someone raves about a place, that does not mean it necessarily meets our approval.

Yesterday, we decided to try out the new Mothership BBQ. According to Yahoo it is 12 minutes away. (It took us 19 minutes). We found it in a 1940s house on Columbine Street in Berry Hill. There were 7-10 people ahead of us. The walls were covered with albums from the 60s, the intercom consisted of a shouting cashier person, and the ribs and pork combination was as good as any I have ever eaten in Nashville. They could work a little on their tea but the BBQ is exceptional.

On our way back we just giggled. We got to thinking of places we had been through the years and came up with out favorites. Certainly the Mothership BBQ is one, so is the White Trash Cafe, and our least favor of all: THE ALL GOOD CAFe. It was so bad that we were the only ones who ate there and we thought the owner was running a bookie joint on the side. Needless to say it is no longer in business.

Anyway, this is to say a BIG THANK YOU to those friends who help me during difficult times. The hugs, the food, the laughter, the invites to the parties, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, that you have time to LISTEN when I have a need. Thanks !!!!

Question: What do you do during the bad days?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mothership BBQ

It is just about a mile south of the White Trash Cafe, that is the Mothership BBQ. It was shortly after 11, just after it opened. There was a line of 7-10 people. I got the rib-pork plate combination for $8, along with a bag of potato chips, and cole slaw. Boy was it good! The ribs just about fell off of the bones. I was a full puppy when I left. The sweet tea could use a little work but overall it was an excellent experience. I will take some more of my friends the next time.

By the way the mothership has a blog. Link!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Emergent Church

Brother Dan:I know very little about the emergent church but I have been hearing quite a bit about it mentioned on other blogs. Would you consider doing a future blog posting explainging what the emergent church is?

Posted by JL Quinton to MONASTIC SKETE---

J.L.- Aimee Milburn's definition is as good as any I know. Check it out.

Ultimate Hypocrisy?

"Drive Responsibly" - Peter Coors Link

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Quiet and Sleepy

It is a quiet and sleepy morn. I begin with cereal and later have 2 pieces of toast with grape jelly. It will be a hot day, probably reaching as high as 97. I do not plan on being outside very much.

I have been reading Anthony's trip to St. John's Abbey. It is very inspiring.

A friend picked some blackberries for me this weekend and gave them to me yesterday. I enjoyed them last night with splenda and creame. What have you done for a friend recently?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Blogging and the reading of blogs

I have been reading lots of blogs recently, partly spurred on by Randy Elrod's book list which included Hugh Hewitts book on blogs. This has led me to the likes of Glenn Reynolds' Instapundit, Mark D. Roberts, plus the Nashville bloggers, Busy Mom , Rex Hammock, and numerous other first time looks. You can check it out by looking at the Bloggers I like on the right side of the page. They have all been updated!

I have got a long way to go. I don't read many blogs usually. Maybe Alan Creech and Bryan Sherwood and that is about it. Not a very balanced list I know. Mostly contemplatives like myself. That is Christians bordering on the emergent church, hungover with a biased protestant background, mixed with a touch of liturgical wonder.

And yes, I am still interested in travel, having just read for the first time Chocolate and Zucchini, a first rate eating and travel digest, and making me want to travel, or perhaps I should just update my Web Surfer Travel Journal. And yes, my Literary Excursion Across America is still a full book on the web.

So there is plenty to do. The heat will be unbearable this week. Not showers until the weekend. So what do the bloggers have to say? What are you doing during the heatwave?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Thomas Merton Webpage UPDATED

I recently updated my Thomas Merton - Monk and Poet website. How about checking it out.

Going on a trip tomorrow (Sat) to Dry Hollow, TN. Not much blogging from there. NO SIGNAL.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

MERTON QUOTE (Hard & austere)

"The way of Christian holiness is, in any case, hard and austere. We must fast and pray. We must embrace hardship and sacrifice, for the love of Christ, and in order to improve the condition of man on earth. We may not merely enjoy the good things of life ourselves, occasionally 'purifying our intention' to make sure that we are doing it all 'forGod.' It is not enough to make pious gestures."


What steps am I taking to make life better for others?

Thanks Wayne Burns

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Cat Time

The sun is setting. I sit with Aidan, the cat, outside and read BusyMom and Guy Kawasaki. The evening has finally cooled down. I grilled out a T-bone for supper, added a potato, salad, cantelope, a hot pepper, and topped it off with strawberry shortcake. Not a bad meal. A dog barks in the distance. I hear the muffled sounds of cars in the distance. Its about time for Aidan and I to say good night!

Turning the Wind Around - Noon Sermon

Turning the Wind Around

Text: Mark 6:48 – "The wind was against them."

Messages from Job and Elihu to get through the tough times.

Intro. – Elihu is last to speak. He speaks from his heart. He spends little time on confrontation and what is wrong with Job. He speaks mostly of the greatness of God.

God is GREATER than man .. (Job. 33:12)-do we try to control God ourselves?God does speak during the storm. By dreams (33:14) and through illness vs(19-22) wrongdoing and pride

God’s angels stand by us and renew us (33:25) that we might be renewed and restored .And that the light of life may shine on him.

God Made Us – (33:10) Example: Razor blade radio, Who gives songs in
the night.

God does great things beyond our imagination. (37:5) "God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding." (Patient in
hospital who lost both legs because of a dog bite and gives God credit for amiracle.)

SUMMARY: In times like this, when the wind is against us—We need guidance, we need to realize a purpose in the difficulty, and we need to think of the Greatness of God and his ability to work in us.

OH YES, MARK 6:5 tells us that when the disciples took their eyes off of themselves and focused on Jesus that "The wind died down!" You think about that !!!

Mid-morning Prayer

Settled in. Seeking words. Prayers. "As the deer longs for water, so I long for you Lord." Waiting. Slowly tugging. Carrying others burdens.. Touching. Listening. I try to liturgize the morning, to see the things of God. Charged by coffee and 2 donut holds I trudge onward!

Morning Memory

Morning calls. Ding-a-ling. Cuddles and Aidan charge for petting purposes. Readiness time: shave, coffee, cereal, cantalope, the shoes, time, coat, straightened. Mirror approval. A brief prayer.

76 degrees. Sunny, hot day. Preaching on Job: "Turning the Wind Around." The game is over. American League won again. Boo Bud Selig.

To work. The big city. Cars tremble and crawl toward mecca. "This is the day which the Lord has made we will rejoice in it.!" - an arrival.

Monday, July 10, 2006

At the Hermitage

Bryan Sherwood has been back to Gethsemani and Merton's Hermitage. Worth checking out. Link

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Silence of a Saturday Morning

It is interesting how many hits I got from the blogging community as a result of visiting Wolfy's. Yesterday 151 people viewed the blog compared to a normal 70. I hope some of you will keep checking mine out. And yes, I made a Nashville Blogging section on my Sidekick so I can keep up with the Rex's, Catching the Dragon's Tail, Sister Smiff, Ethos, Busy Mom, Aunt B, Shauna, The Homeless Guy, and others. It was a nice evening.

Plans for the day include waiting for the air-conditioner man, studying my Sunday School Lesson --by the way any of you are welcome to attend the DSP class at Clearview Baptist Church that I teach at 9:30--and untangle the wires I got hung in a tree while changing my ham antenna. And maybe, just maybe, reading a few blogs.

Friday, July 07, 2006


Originally uploaded by brotherdan44.

This is Nemesisboy. Some think it is Neil Orne in disguise. What do you think?

Paul Chenoweth

Paul Cheno
Originally uploaded by brotherdan44.

Paul and I use to work together almost 20 years ago. Who would have ever thought we would meet at a blogfest?

Our Hero Brittany !!

Our Hero Brittany
Originally uploaded by brotherdan44.

It was nice meeting Brittany. She is our hero, the one who daily keeps Nashville is Talking in action. Thanks for your hard work Brittany.

Mark Lee and Randy Elrod

Mark Lee and Randy Rlrod
Originally uploaded by brotherdan44.

Met my neighbor, Randy Elrod, and his friend Mark Lee at the convention. Surprised to find that all of us have a common link on our blogs, the tallskinnykiwi. That must say something about us, right?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Fw: Kevin Barbieux

Fw: Kevin Barbieux
Originally uploaded by brotherdan44.
At bloggers convention at Wolfy's. Met Kevin Barbieux, a Thomas Merton fan.

His website is

Wolfy's Den

I am lined up to go to the "mini blogger convention" at Wolfy's Den tonight. Not sure what it will be like. I may go to Jack's BBQ before I go over there. I guess I don't feel I have much in common with most bloggers in this area. Mine is not a political blog. It is a religious blog in the sense that it is my dealings with my feelings about God. That identifies me with another group that are identified with my favorite list.

I do appreciate what WKRN has been doing with this. They have been faithful in following through with Nashville is Talking and making us bloggers feel welcome. THANKS WKRN.

And that does not mean I don't appreciate other bloggers, just that I am rather localized in my reading, especially as related to Thomas Merton and those tied in with him. I also have an interest in travel and have an entire travel book on the web titled, A Literary Excursion Across America. So, anyway, that is to say, tonight will be interesting !! See you there?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Morning Prayers

Morning Prayers
Originally uploaded by brotherdan44.
A little child will lead them. Burns Hoppe reading his "liturgy."

Monday, July 03, 2006

John and Janice Williams Anniversary

Our dear friends John and Janice Williams celebrated their 20th wedding

anniversary tonight. Approximately 50 people attended. A great time was

had by all.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


"Struggles are the fertilizer for spiritual growth." (Joyce Rupp)