St. Thomas Episcopal Church | Medina


Thoughts and Happenings

Sharing Our Stories: Thursday Edition

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Sharing Our Stories: Thursday Edition

This was an email originally sent out to the parish on Thursday, May 14, 2020.

Hi friends:

Here are the latest group of stories we have collected. This is a wonderful way for us to stay connected with one another and to accompany one another on this journey. We would love to have YOUR story. Check out the broad guidelines HERE.  And if you have already submitted a story, please let us have another one!

P.S. The owner of the Medina pigs has promised to share the story of how the pigs came to be in Medina with us. Stay tuned!

Reflection by Roger Ahroon

I was looking forward this past Thursday to meet with my golfing buddies for our first outing. It didn't happen; it rained. It was a major set back for me. Again, we had a tee time for today, Friday, and it was beautiful; our venuewas Mt. Si. The weather could not have been better for our opening day together. I was satisfied with my play but wondered if I could finish 18 holes. I am stiff and exhausted  but it was worth it to see my friends for the first time and soak up the beauty of the Northwest. I feel more  blessed than usual for the freedom I have experienced this day. — Roger Ahroon

To Cheer Us Up During Our Pandemic from Jack Caldwell

A Christian gentleman decided he needed a horse. So he looked in the paper and found an ad for a “Christian horse.” He called the number in the ad and made an appointment to check this out.

When he saw the horse – (an ordinary looking beast) – he asked what made this horse a Christian horse. The owner said “Climb on and you’ll find out.” The man did so and the horse was calm and well-behaved. In answer to “how do you make him go?” we find out why he is a “Christian horse.”

“When you want him to go, you say “Praise the Lord.” To stop him, you say “Amen.” That worked well and the customer rode off saying “Praise the Lord” several times to make him go faster and “Amen” to stop him. The last time he stopped him was 6” away from a 100 foot drop-off.

“Praise the Lord.”

Reflection by Terry LaBrue, APR

My Covid-19 story.
Last week, the North Central Washington town of Chelan, decided to recognize and celebrate the local healthcare workers and first responders with a noontime parade and ringing of church bells. The parishioners at St. Andrews turned out to line the main streets (with social distancing of course) and make a joyful noise on the historic church's antique bell. As the local PR guy, I was asked to record the event which landed on the front page of The Chelan Mirror. On the left, Mary Signorelli right, The Rev. Dean Linda Mayor, both of St. Andrew's. I can’t think of a nicer place to be quarantined.

Reflection by Mary Pneuman

This time of pandemic has forced us to give up much of our usual busyness as days and months morph into the next, and as we are forced to slow down, we seem to be losing our sense of timing. Maybe this is part of living in liminal space—we have  begun to forget how we used to spend our days as we discover new, and maybe better, ways to spend our time.  Spring has become our timekeeper. Flowering trees and shrubs burst into blossom, garden seeds sprout, and grass and weeds grow tall, more or less on schedule.

Now Fred and I have time to work in our yard and garden, discover our neighborhood on foot, and appreciate the natural world with which God has blessed our area.  Here is what we saw and heard the first week of April:

Living Into Pandemic

Under stay-at-home
advisories, we shelter
inside and pray that God
will lift the shroud that
threatens to entomb us,
send a sign that everyone
will live to see another day.

I raise the shutters
to early April sun,
and Bewick’s wren peers in at me.
We forgot to fill the feeder,
yet she finds a single peanut there.
Inside a tray of starter cups
aligned on the windowsill,
pale green snap pea shoots
are peeking through the potting soil.
Over by the hedge, and nearly hidden
in lush grass, two young cottontails
are busy mowing our new hayfield.
Now comes urgent drumming
on the chimney flashing overhead—
a northern flicker, cheeks
rouged in ruby red,
seems confident a mate
is listening for his call.

Beside the kitchen door,
vermilion buds of
a dormant rhododendron
are breaking out in
passionate flamenco dancing.

His signs are everywhere.

by Mary Pneuman

Reflection by Anita Crocus

The best prescription for times of isolation is reading. The following four novels, two novellas, and short story, written in different eras, are relevant today. Each work embodies the theme of isolation and existentialism. The obvious first choice would be Albert Camus’ The Plague. Read great works to find there is nothing really new on the face of the Earth. The annotations are mine. — Anita Crocus

When Nietzsche Wept, Irvin D. Yalum, 1993.

A fictional confrontation in Vienna during 1882 between Dr. Josef Breuer, actual Viennese physician, and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Dr. Breuer agrees to take the depressed, ill, and suicidal Nietzsche as a patient. Breuer, a diagnostician and neurophysiologist, dabbles in early “chimney sweeping” (psychoanalysis) and dream therapy while his young protégé and family friend Freud plays a pivotal role in the novel. Nietzsche’s brilliant philosophy (e.g.,“If something doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger”)  and intellectual capacity becomes a chess match of intellect and will during therapy sessions as margins between physician/patient blur. The restless, alienated, and isolated philosopher Nietzsche was at that time unnoticed compared with Breuer’s stellar medical reputation, fame, and conventional family and social life.

During therapy sessions, the two men realize they suffer from the same psychological paralysis: “Am I living the life I want to live?” This brilliantly executed pas de deux by psychiatrist Yalum is engaging and totally believable as he merges fact with fiction. A striking author note at the end of the novel reveals that after the book became a best seller in Europe, the Nietzsche Archives translated and sent the author letters revealing that Nietzsche was offered free treatment by Breuer in Vienna. Nietzsche’s family rejected that offer indicating he was too ill to travel and had already seen too many physicians. 

A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles, 2016.

Possibly the best American writer of fiction since Truman Capote, Towles protagonist Count Alexander Illyich Rostov in this novel has lived an idle privileged life in the Russian aristocracy until the Bolsheviks seize power and charge him with being a “social parasite.” He is sentenced to spend the remainder of his life under house arrest inside the elegant Hotel Metropole in Moscow.  With seamless craftsmanship and luscious detail, Towles weaves a sociopolitical essay as decades of Russian history swirl outside the hotel while Count Rostov evolves from boredom to becoming a restaurant waiter and finding purpose in life through his strange incarceration. 

Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez, 1988.

Never has pestilence been as romantic. The master of South American Magic Realism took pen to paper to write a love story that permeates age and time. Nothing is ever exactly as it seems in Magic Realism but giving in to the florid literary style and phantasmagorical sets created in this Nineteenth Century mythological Colombian city is an escape like no other. The decay is palpable to the senses from the steamy streets, scurrying vermin, and decaying structures. The reader follows Florentino and Fermina through a lifetime courtship not unlike the acclaimed Italian novel The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni.

Candid, The Optimist, (Novella) Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet), 1759.

Voltaire in his masterpiece of irreverent satire published this controversial parody under a nom de plume. This brilliant piece of enlightenment thought is considered one of the greatest 100 books ever written. Voltaire’s naïve protagonist Candide is taught by his mentor Pangloss that he lives in “the best of all possible worlds.” Pangloss decides to test the master’s optimistic credo by traveling the world and witnesses the great Lisbon earthquake and Seven Year’s War among other disasters along the way. This microscopic examination of the human condition concludes when Pangloss declares "we must cultivate our garden."

Blindness, Jose Saramago, 1995.

Portuguese author Saramago won the Nobel Prize with this dystopian story about an epidemic of blindness that breaks out in an imaginary country. Sentences with Saramago can extend to one paragraph without punctuation. Only a writer of his enormous skill can break the rules to push the reader forward without pause to the chaotic levels to which the society descends with the spread of blindness. From quarantine in an asylum, panic over lack of food, and moral degradation, the metaphor of blindness strikes at the heart of social catastrophe and the isolation of contemporary urban life that are the thematic thread in Saramago’s impressive body of work.

Death in Venice, (Novella), Thomas Mann, 1912.

A haunting portrait of an aging, rigid, and repressed German writer, Gustav von Aschenbach, whose summer vacation to Venice is supposed to unlock writer’s block. In Venice, Aschenbach becomes obsessed by the vision of a young Polish boy who symbolizes the epitome of Greek beauty. Beauty, decay, pestilence, and passion mix as a cholera epidemic spreads through the city of canals. As visitors flee, Aschenbach becomes unraveled by his obsession. His personal descent becomes for Thomas Mann the symbol for civilization blinded to inner decay.  The theme is prescient to the end of the bourgeois hierarchy ahead in the First World War.

The Bet (short story), Anton Chekhov, 1889.

In four pages Chekhov presents a morality play only a genius could create. A wager between a banker and a lawyer centers around one premise: “Which sentence is crueler, execution or solitary confinement?” The surprise ending turns the winner into a loser. And Chekhov’s personal philosophy is eternal:  “What terrifies me most is just ordinary everyday routine, the thing none of us can escape…”