Farnham & St. John's
Torrence's Weekly Message
While I am on vacation in Boone enjoying the beauty of the mountains, I offer, instead of my usual Epistle Message for the week, this reflection by Bishop Jennifer Brooke-Davidson, Assistant Bishop of our Diocese. Please enjoy! Torrence
For the Beauty of the Earth

The last week in July may not be the best time to resume a serious practice of walking for exercise. It was, Bishop Goff told me, the hottest July ever recorded in Richmond. I'm still learning the weather patterns, so I asked if August is hotter than July, or the heat starts to taper a bit. "Well, it doesn't get hotter. But. . . it does get more humid." Well, no matter, I said to myself. I'm from the place that invented humid heat. I wasn't so sure, though, when it became clear that my laundry load was going to double if I went out walking every day. I was warned out of the woods (copperheads!), so I've been walking the track of the open areas. It has been hot, when it hasn't been raining, and so humid after the rain that you can barely see where you're going, and the steam has brought -- no, not rainbows and roses, but gnats and mosquitoes and, oddly, a bumper crop of spiders (Go U of Richmond!).
But then, one morning when I slowed down and looked around a bit, just off the nice, flat, safe pavement, I saw this.

Hard to capture in a photo -- the colors and textures of the moss and the lichens, the unexpected berries from a tree, the subtle blue-green sticky cone of a conifer -- Christmas in July. Maybe I need to choose what I'm focusing on a little more carefully.

Carrick and I lived in the countryside outside Austin for a long time, on land fitted out as a migratory songbird sanctuary. That means that we spent ridiculous sums and hours on several dozen bluebird houses and many "squirrel proof" birdfeeders, among other things. For over twenty years, Carrick cleaned and logged the houses and filled the feeders and never saw a single bluebird. (The county assessor said that was okay for tax purposes, but we were disappointed.) The baffles did keep the varmints out, though. This morning I looked up from the breakfast table here in Richmond and saw this:
That's right, the raccoon is standing on the raccoon baffle, enjoying the woodpecker's lunch.

I decided that the only way to deal with this aggravation was to re-read a favorite book, and it turned out to be just the medicine I needed. You may know the story about the man who finds himself on a bus going through a grey city where everybody argues and fights all the time. The city is indescribably vast, because when you can't get along with your neighbors, you simply move. The new neighbors are disagreeable too, so you move to a newly built place on the edge of town - and since everybody does this, the place constantly expands exponentially. The bus takes the man to a place where he learns that the grey city is, in fact, Hell. And it turns out that to change your address and move to Heaven, the main thing you have to do is -- want to go. You have to want joy -- more than you want revenge, sulking, rage, victimhood, fame, intellectual superiority, status, control, domination, and all your appetites and grievances. You have to be willing to ask for, and accept, forgiveness. You have to choose joy, and nobody can do it for you. For the joy of the Lord is love, and the love of the Lord is joy. Oh, yeah. . . (Thank you, CS Lewis and The Great Divorce -- I needed that.)

And then I looked out the window again and I saw this:
I know it's small -- but there are bluebirds. Real, live ones. One eating the bluebird food, and one posing opposite the metal bluebird finial. Looks like the raccoon came back and finished off the woodpecker food, and I forgive her. I'm going to choose joy. It's all over the place.

There's plenty of hellishness all around us these days, plenty of anger and fear and rage and stuck-ness. We can choose to squabble and cut each other off, moving further and further apart, or we regroup, look closer, forgive and ask for forgiveness, and choose joy.
What will you choose? 


Bishop Jennifer Brooke-Davidson
Last Sunday at Farnham & St. John's
photos of St. John's outdoor service at Sabine Hall on August 9th courtesy of Anne Neuman.
the August edition of CHESAPEAKE Style is out
and linked here. Torrence's column, "Faith Matters" on page 13, is entitled "Outdoor Church" and highlights our outdoor services.
Upcoming Sunday Morning Prayer Services
Sunday, August 16th

9 a.m. Outdoors

at Farnham

No Virtual Service
at 11:00 a.m.

Sunday, August 23rd

9 a.m. Outdoors
at Sabine Hall
sponsored by St. John's Church

followed by

11 a.m. Virtual Service
Sunday, August 30th

9 a.m. Outdoors

at Farnham
followed by
11 a.m. Virtual Service
Sunday, Sept. 6th

9 a.m. Outdoors
at Sabine Hall
sponsored by St. John's Church

followed by
11 a.m. Virtual Service
9 a.m. Outdoor Service Notes

Outdoor service will be cancelled in event of rain.
Face Masks required*, Bring your own lawn chair*, Seating will be marked in advance at 6-8 foot intervals for individuals and/or immediate family "groupings"
"Social" distancing will be respected; We will have music, but not singing;
A food pantry donation basket will be available for can and jar donations.
There will also be a plate to collect the offering.
* There will be some disposable masks and sanitized chairs available if you forget
The Parish Prayer List
Courtenay Altaffer
John Barber
Martha Berger
Randall Bone
Sue Bowie
Nancy Allin Bush
Mary Claycomb
Constance Edwards
Bob File
Regina Griggs
Barbara & Harry Grander
The Rev. Howard Hanchey
Weir Harman
Mary Hertling
Billy Hooper
Rebecca Hubert
Marcia Jenkins
Stephanie, Nick & Donovan Kaywork
Jim & Sharon Krider
The Rt. Rev. Peter Lee
Susan Lewis
Frank Lynch
Susannah Marais
Judi Newman
Kirsten Palubinski
George Patrick
Ed Rynd
James Rynd
Debbie Belfield Stacks
Scott Strickler
Waldy Sulik
Billy Tennyson
Connie Thompson
Matthew Yates
and Rose Mary Zellner
Please e-mail any updates to the prayer list to parishchurchnews@gmail.com Replying to this e-mail will send it to Torrence.
August Birthdays
1st Junius Berger
2nd Courtney Sisson
3rd Kathleen Sulik

11th Carlton George
16th Sallie Cox
27th Ed Elliott
31st Lorena Plump
31st Kiersten Saison
There will be an outdoor Morning Prayer Service at Farnham at 9:00 a.m. this coming Sunday, weather permitting.
Farnham Church
St. John's Church