Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Donkey's Tale

 This is a story by my friend Deborah Beach Giordano.

 She's been a friend since my days of living in San Francisco.

This story sums up pretty well the 'tale' of Christmas.

A blessed Christmas to you all.


The Donkey's Tale

Upozugion the donkey
There was nothing usual, to begin with. That day my master and I had traveled a long distance on the muddy roads. We had been caught in a rainstorm and some of the rugs I was carrying got quite wet. My master, always quick of temper, was outraged, "Damnable weather! These will have to be sold at half-price, now!" Hurrying along toward the town, I stumbled under the heavy load and my master began to beat me with that hateful stick. He carried it always, and used it often — as the scars on my flanks attest.
We were fortunate to find an inn on the outskirts of town. As I recall, it was here that things began to change. First, my master paid extra that I might be sheltered in the stable — a thing he rarely did. My burdens were lifted: all of the merchandise I carried was removed, and the reins that held me were loosed. I was truly free for the first time in many weeks. A blanket was laid across my back to keep me warm, water had been brought in from the nearby well, and there was a whole manger-ful of sweet hay — it was a heavenly place!
manger full of hayI was comfortable in the cozy stable, surrounded by the nose-twitching fragrance of the other animals — a cow, two horses, a ewe and her lamb, some pigs in a pen on the far corner, and a flock of chickens. It was peaceful there; the only sounds the soft cooing of a pair of doves in the rafters, and the rustle of mice as they gathered seeds from within the hay. Before long I began to doze in the warming silence.
The silent night was disturbed by the innkeeper, carrying a lamp. I was surprised to see that he was leading a young couple out to share our quarters. So little room here! Someone will need to be cast out into the cold. I turned my eyes away, so that I would not be noticed and so become the sacrifice. But nothing happened. No harsh words were uttered, and no creature was sent away.
Ears itching with curiosity, I looked again, and my heart leapt within me. The man had the kindest eyes I had ever seen, and such a gentle way about him. His attention was focused on the young woman, who moved slowly and carefully, as though carrying a heavy burden.
The innkeeper looked anxiously at the woman, and then shrugged his shoulders, "It's all I have..." Joseph gave the man a reassuring nod, "We will be well looked-after, I am certain," and he raised his hands toward the heavens.
Humans hold a fascination for animals: with your gift of language, your strong and clever fingers, and brains ever-busy with plans and schemes. And so we watched, to see what these people would do. Joseph gathered together some of the straw, and covered it with two blankets from his pack.
a doveOne of the doves swooped down with a feather in her mouth, and dropped it nearby. The gentle man smiled, "Are you helping me build a nest, my friend?" He handed the feather to Mary, who blessed the bird: "Peaceful one, peace be with you."
That is how it began: gently, and peacefully. And it was during that holy night that The Baby was born. I've been present at a couple of other human births, and this one was very much the same. Except: there was a strange noise — musical, like the chanting of many voices, but it appeared to come from the roof of the stable!
Mary and Joseph did not seem to notice — busy, as they were, with the newborn Child. They wrapped him in soft cloths, and laid him in the manger. But that was not enough! Surely there ought to be gifts for the Baby.
As the beautiful Mother knelt adoringly over her child, I pushed my way forward and tossed my head. "Look at that donkey," said Joseph, "I believe he wants something. What is it, old fellow?" Stretching my neck, I reached back and grabbed the blanket from my back in my teeth.
Upozugion's blanketJoseph stood still for a moment, and then took it from my mouth. "Thank you, my friend, for this blanket for the baby Jesus." Old as I am, I have never forgotten that moment, nor joy that swelled my heart as I watched him gently drape my blanket over the tiny child.
Then there came the contingent of shepherds: ill-smelling — even to an unwashed donkey's nose, poorly dressed, with dirty feet. They arrived with a flapping of their raggedy clothes, in much excitement over a wild story about angels. I paid no attention, remembering the time I ate some peculiar-tasting thistles that made me behave like that. But the gentle man and compassionate Lady — with the newborn Child at her breast, listened patiently, and blessed them as they departed.


Christmas star
In the morning my master rose early; the skies had cleared during the night and the sun shone brightly. The little family had moved outside and were warming themselves at a fire.
Preparing to load me down with his wares, my master noticed the missing blanket. "What have you done with your blanket, you vile creature?!" he demanded, kicking at my heels. Joseph arose at once, and bowed to my master, "Sir, please do not beat this animal for my sin. Our child was born in the stable, and I borrowed the donkey's blanket to keep him warm."
His voice seemed to calm my master who said, "Never mind. It is not important. I have other blankets." Joseph bowed again and said, "Thank you." Although my master was the one who answered — "It is nothing," I am nearly certain Joseph was talking to me.
There was something about that place: even my master, ever-anxious to set out on a journey, seemed unwilling to depart. He returned to the inn twice: once for a skein of wine, and again for a bit of rope to fasten the already-secure packages on my back.
We needed to arrive early to get a good location at the market in the center of the town, still a mile or so distant. And so we set out, leaving the family behind. As we departed, Mary gently patted my neck, and the child — the astonishing child — looked at me with wise and gentle eyes.
muddy roadThe lightness of my spirit was not enough to overcome the heaviness of the rugs — some still weighted down with rainwater. This weight, combined with the sticky mud of the roads made lifting each foot a struggle. Before long I was exhausted: sweating and thirsty.
Then I noticed a fragrance in the air: somewhere, quite nearby was water. I turned off the main road and toward the refreshing promise. At once my master began shouting and running after me. I knew what would happen next: he would begin beating me, and I would bite at him, and shake off what part of the burden I could. We would both be filled with violence and hatred.
In an instant, something changed. I saw again the faces of that dear family: gentle Joseph, kind Mary, and the precious baby. I turned toward my master, remembering the Child. Our eyes met, and he stepped back — the evil stick dropped from his hand. There was stillness for a moment — a holy peace seemed to descend upon us.
My master shook his head, as though awaking from a dream. Then he said, "There's a well not far from here, it will only take a moment from our journey, and we could both use a drink of water."
Later, as we sat by the well, a woman came collect some water. Bowing to my master, she asked, "Do you bring any news? The shepherds are saying that the Messiah has been born!"
An odd expression came over my master's face and he looked at me, as though seeing me for the first time. He said, "We've seen a lot together, haven't we, old friend?"
Things have been very different between us, since that day. The vile stick is gone — never to be replaced, my loads are lighter, my heart is gentler. And, as for my master — he often says that there is no question as to which of us is the bigger donkey.
Perhaps we'll see the family again some day. My master has heard that they live in Nazareth. I'd like to go there, and give the little boy a ride on my back. It would be such a joy to carry him with me, even for a little way — although, as my master says, we carry Him in our hearts wherever we go.
blessings from
Upozugion the donkey

A Christmas Blessing

May this donkey's tale bring you joy,
and may you carry
the beauty and peace of Christ
in your heart
today and always!
Merry Christmas!
Deborah +

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Advent, Jesus as a child.

Advent, Jesus as a child.

 I have worked in retail almost all my life. Mostly in Jewelry for the last 30 years.

 This is the first season in all those years I will not be dealing with the greed and over commercialism of this time of year.
 Now I can say to whomever I meet, 'Merry Christmas' and not have to worry if the bosses will over hear me NOT saying "happy holidays".
  Not that it's bad to say it in this religious pluralistic world.
 But for me as a Christian, and a bishop in Christ's church, The deep meaning that Christmas has for me just flows out of me during this time of year.
  Now having said all that.... Lets get back to Advent. The reenactment of the coming of the Christ Child that we take 4 weeks to observe. Unlike the lenten season, there is nothing to 'give up'...or is there? The coming of this gentle child of peace, on a quiet and cold night, needs to be taken seriously. Set aside all the parties, the dinners, the shop till you drop days, the presents, and let us focus on the birthing of Jesus into our hearts. I realize it's for our loved ones that we do all the cooking and shopping..but.. taking some silent time to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of the little one puts all the other stuff into a better perspective.
  Can we give up the stress? Can we give up the greed and the 'I wants'? To hear the cry of the small babe of Bethlehem? Can we prepare the rough and dusty mangers in our hearts to accept such a one as He? Yes! By simply asking with meaning for the Christ Child to come into our hearts.  As each candle of the Advent wreath is lit,let us figuratively light a matching one on the wreaths of our minds and hearts to dispel the darkness and clouds of worry and uncertainty life brings us.
  Sounds simplistic I know..but it's sometimes in the simple things that more profound things happen! 
 We all know that God is ever around us, with us and in us, yet at the vespers for Christmas eve in the Eastern Church, we sing S'namy Boh, or God is with us! It's on that eve that we awaken from our yearly slumber and declare God is with us (once again).
 Let us this season of Advent not only allow the Child Born in a Manger be born anew in us JUST for this season.. but for the whole year. Let that Child in the manger of our hearts GROW in us so that we can be the face of Christ for those who are lost and hurting who are so desperately seeking Him.
 Shhhhhh..... He's coming!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Calling all Saints.....

 This Sunday, Nov. 1st, is the feast of All Saints.
I remember in the Episcopal church, there is a hymn named I sing a song of the saints of God.
One line says Patient and brave and true.
Funny things about this feast.. and commemoration,
 Is that the Gospel compels us to become those saints.
Not by heroic deaths...but by every day living of the Gospel, i.e. the words of Jesus. By claiming to be followers of the Anointed one, the Christ, we have begun the journey to become saints.
So, what does this mean? Good question, no one has ever come up with a definitive answer.
 We must walk this journey in our own way,in our own time..yeah right.... who am I kidding.. it's in God's own way and time..So.. the point of all this?? Good question ...see a pattern here? Questions! Seeking!
These are the workings of a journey..step by questioning step. However for the heroic ones, not much in the way of questions but a definitive active step. In this past Sunday's Gospel reading,we see a blind man,who on hearing that it was Jesus coming to the area, called out to have mercy on him. Now there was no thought that well... MAYBE... if I call he might listen...no. He called out much to the consternation to his friends and on lookers. Jesus came right up to him and said,What can I do for you?
'I want my sight' the blind man said .
 Ok, ok, so why am I mentioning it this way?  Events coming up are trying times for us saints.
Our everyday lives, with health problems,financial worries, all these try to block our journey     on the way to become saints. Saints not to prove anything to ourselves, but saints for others. To even be maybe that onetime saint for someone who is so desperately seeking.
There is a group of young men who are trying to live the Gospel life in such an abandoning way, that it makes this old bishop sit up and take notice. They want to create intentional community,and in that word is the smaller word 'unity'.
 On this saintly road,they have already come upon spiritual obstacles. Doubt, fear, all tools of the Evil one to try and take us off the track of our journey to sainthood.
Now I'm not trying to swell heads here..I am couching what I say here in more of a honest clean faced way like the protestant writers, and writers of the New Testament. They used the word saint like we use the word faith or Jesus. As I have said above we all are called to be saints. Just today,as I was getting my prescriptions filled at Hannaford, with my new insurance plan, my co pay for all meds is 1.00 one dollar. I did not have the money,and the woman behind the counter was going to allow me to take my meds and pay later. A charming lady who loves cats,heard all this and immediately paid the 5.00 total foe my meds. i did not as..she freely gave to a total stranger. It brought me to tears. how good is our God??!! This saint,helped me bolster my own faith,not only in God,but in one another.
  Let us then,like the ones who walked before us, help one another on this journey. Let us be the nameless person like that lady today to help keep each other on the life long road to sainthood. Bumps and potholes included.
 Blessings one and all,

Monday, August 10, 2009

health care...

Dear ones,
My take on the whole health thing is this:
I believe that if it was a white charismatic president making his pitch for health reform it would not have the problems it has because the current sitting president is not all white.
There are a lot of bigoted republicans and democrats who want to derail Obama. Not because of his politics, but because of his skin color.
That just sucks. it's as if they want to say "see.. a person of color doesn't have it in them to be a real president. Do I know this for a fact? No.
But I surmise this is indeed the case to a greater degree.
As I was talking to a friend today, Obama inherited a freaking mess..it took 8 years to create, it's not going to clear up over night.
People tend to forget that. They've been in darkness so long under the past administration,that they want all the changes to happen NOW.
It just can't happen NOW. Nothing happens now. It takes time and co-operation between all peoples and parties.
It takes time to listen to what is being offered, and not, well.... my cousin's mother's brother said this about it, therefore it MUST be true...NOT!
Well thats my 2cents.
Blessings to you Keep on Keeping on.
+Mel OFC

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Tonight I feel compelled to talk about changes.. not just religious changes or bodily ones as we get older..nor necessarily spiritual ones..but change, and how it affects us.
I of course can and will only speak of change personally.
To do so otherwise would be to 'talk of what I know not of" asa wise woman once said.
Right now, change for me is palpable...ever before me..as I get older..medically my body is changing..and the problems it creates in doing so,give me much to reflect on,and to Pray to God about. It also causes me to learn humility as well.
Changes in jurisdictions brings with it not only fresh air, but problems of a different kind.
We can just gripe about it,and look at all change as the glass being half empty, which just makes us and those around us more miserable.
We can look at it as a side journey to our lives as Christians and spiritual people. Our loving God wants us to learn something either about a situation, in our lives or the world we live in, or the way we think about things.
I try to use these changes as a time to deepen my spirituality through my prayer life.
I see them(changes) not as obstacles to over come, but as a renewed call to prayer and enrichment in my life as I seek out to use my gifts to be of service to others along the way.
O.K., I've been vague, and very general here as to what kind of changes that are happening for me.. suffice it to say some of them are great, and involve humility, or growing more into it;
other changes are more faith centered, and are asking me to step more out on faith, and taking ownership of those Gifts that I know God has given me, yet I seem to keep them in reserve, for fear of being to prideful and boastful.
Well.. when I was a kid..and writing poetry,and such.. I never told anyone about it..Some of it was good, some not so. Yet I felt that if i told someone, or had it published, I feared rejection if it was bad, and felt as a spiritual person growing up that the best way to avoid any type of ego trip, was just keep it all quiet.
Obviously those notions have somewhat changed over the years.. but not by much.
Being a newly consecrated bishop, (2 years) and especially in the Independent Sacramental Movement, Ego must best be kept in check.
I have seen over the years as i have observed the goings on of Old Catholics, and Independent types, just how ones head swells after the pointy hat has been put on. how some of them worship liturgy,and have fallen in love with themselves, and the office of bishop, and have forgotten that the reason why the Holy Spirit opened the window to other types of catholicism, was because the main line churches were slamming and continue to slam their doors in the faces of people hungry to seek and see the face of Christ.
How can any of us do something to others that has been done to us?
How can we be blind to the true spiritual needs of others?
How dare any of us be so self-righteous, as to allow it to hapen?
However...there is a lot of GOOD in the movement. I see other bishops stretching out their hand in unity with others. I see independent priests of different jurisdictions opening soup kitchens,
Being visable to the gay and lesbian and transgendered communities through pride events.
I was in Boston for their pride event in June. A young girl came up to me,crying..holding out her arms wanting to be hugged...and when I did so.. said in my ear, "thank you for being here".
A Boston policewoman, passed me by and gave me a 'high five' as she walked past me on the street.
So to end this LONG parade of words, in a nutshell, Change comes,someties slowly,sometimes faster than we were able to imagine, yet it comes.
We as spiritual people, need to allow it into our lives, and as people of prayer, let it renew our prayerlife foundation.
To make us better in the eyes of God, so when that stranger comes to us with pain and hurt on their face, we in turn can be the gentle hands of Jesus, and his calming and loving voice.
Blessings to you and yours,

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Hello all!
 Well I've been working hard at my secular employ, praying and thinking a lot about all of you, and the future of this small jurisdiction I have inherited.
 A good friend of mine is the senior bishop of a more far reaching jurisdiction than I have, and has invited me to be a part of.
 When we merge, we'll be in many corners of the world. still small by Roman standards,but still growing and on fire with the Holy Spirit and the Love of God.
 Right now the ORCC-English Rite, is in Ohio,NY,MA, and CA. In CA., we have an eccumenical order with reaches into Mexico,and the philipines. With this new merger, we'll be able to reach God's children in Australia,and the UK.  I'm indeed in awe of what God can do through prayer.
 Keep me and all of us in your prayers dear reader.
As a friend of mine once said...'God ain't done with you yet!'
Blessings to you and yours always,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How Music affects ones soul

Dear Ones,
  Music has always been an important part of my life in some way.
 As a teen and preteen, I fell in love with classical music. As I got older my tastes broadened to allow in some pop singers as well.
 As I began to sing in choirs for different churches, I was exposed to
 more traditional church music.
 In all this I became aware of singing..and music in general and how it affected me as a listener. 
 The music that gets to me is that which touches the core of my being. My heart and soul if you will.
 Very few secular singers do that for me. The ones come to mind are Josh Groban, Anne Murray, Judy Small, and many many more, all touch my core with not only their voices, but their words as well. Well tonight I heard a woman from Scotland in Mid-Lothian in fact who was a contestant on Britain's Got Tallent that absolutely touched my spirit and blew me away! 
 The power of her singing,the clarity of her voice, and the emotion she put into it all amde an impact on me. Her name is Susan Boyle you can find her on you tube just type in her name.
All in all what I'm getting at is voices and music like hers touches the infinite in me, brings me closer to God,and allows me to see God's Spirit in others.
 I hope you get a chance to hear her and others like her and let them bring you into closer communion with God.
 Now I'm not in any way advocating the replacement of the Eucharist with only music,thats absurd. but in the scheme of things it's just one more thing our Loving God gives us to get just that much more closer  on a personal level.
Resurrectional/Easter blessings to you and yours,

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Here's something for Saint Patrick's day..and also food for thought this lenten season.
This was sent to me from a friend and I wanted to share with you.
It's called The Rune of St. Patrick.
Blessings all,

At Tara today in this fateful hour
I place all Heaven with its power
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And fire with all the strength it hath,
And lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness
All these I place,
By God's almighty help and grace,
Between myself and the powers of darkness.
"The Rune of St. Patrick", derived from "The Lorica"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Dear All,
Well here it is..Ash Wednesday....the beginning of the season of Lent in the church.
Time for the old lists to come out.. to do the usual this time of year.. to"give up" something as usual.. or to ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist.
For me..I love this season..this lent.. this time to turn inward,a time of metanoia..meaning to bend to turn...
We need to do this..this looking inward..to see not only who we are now in God's eyes. but to see who we can BECOME in God's sight.
This whole preparation time of lent and introspection..and remembering Jesus' sufferings,
and to compare them with what we only THINK we go through, with insight,we can become just as bright as the inside of Christ's tomb. Not the whitewashed outer shell like those pharisees of old,but shining as the sun as we DO something different for lent. Go out of our way and DO something that we normally wouldn't do.
BE that shining example of the love of Christ to someone who is desperately seeking it.
Whether it's a family member,a stranger, or even ourselves.
Le me close with a prayer said during lent in all eastern churches...the Prayer of St.Ephraim the Syrian.
The word Metany in the prayer...comes from the root word metanoia. to turn or bend.

O Lord and Master of my life,
Grant not unto me a spirit of idleness,
of discouragement,
of lust for power,
and of vain speaking.

(Deep Bow/Metany)

But bestow upon me, Thy servant,
the spirit of chastity,
of meekness,
of patience,
and of love.

(Deep Bow/Metany)

Yea, O Lord and King,
grant that I may perceive
my own transgressions,
and judge not my brother,
for blessed art Thou
unto ages of ages.

Deep Bow/Metany)

Lenten Blessings to all of you!!!!


Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Year Blessings..

My Dear Blogger Friends,
Happy New Year!
My prayer for all of you is that this coming year be one of Joy, Laughter, Friends,and lots of love all around.
May 2009 be a year of inner peace for all of you. May the Child Born at Christmas Grow in your hearts all this year. Amen.

I also want to apologize for being away so long from writing in my blog.
Mainly I have not given the Holy Spirit enough time as She needs with me to give me the right words to say.
Also being an independent priest, I don't have the wealthy pockets of Rome to fall back on.. so I must work like everyone else to support myself, and my ministry. Retail is a great people job.. but so hard on the long hours. Especially at the holidays.

So, pray for me as I will for you.
I hope to write more this year and share what the Holy Spirit wants to say.
God's Richest blessings be yours this day and all through the year.