If Found: Send me Back to Barbary Lane

Sometimes there’s a sort of frisson around SF, that I belong here, that this is home in ways I can’t explain, that – as Anna Madrigal says to Mary Ann, “You’re one of us.”  She means Atlantean because it was a good HippieSF idea that when all the Atlantean souls reincarnate they will all move back here and the whole thing will fall into the Sea again.  But… ok.  One of us. This week, however… well, really, in the three weeks since the Easter Vigil, it’s been more like a whirlwind or earthquake, the latter being, perhaps, a better choice given the locale.

When I first visited SF in October of 1996, I craved to be here. It was love at first sight. In April 1997 I lived here, having quit a job of ten years and sold nearly everything I owned. I moved in with Patrick, a friend from college, and started to find a life. By May I had one: a job. An apartment followed shortly. And boom.

I left in 2003 for a number of reasons I won’t go into. But I had the blessing of my priest (Fr V) and thought I was done. But I wasn’t. When she came with me to SF on Easter 2010, Sarah said that all the things I make fun of Buffalonians for in Buffalo are true for me here. And I thought she was silly. Less than six months later, I was back. And two months after that I had a job and an apartment. Boombidy boom. As Jay pointed out being able to live on your own in SF is evidence of success. I’ve done it twice. I don’t credit that to myself, save that I have a low bar for where I’ll live. But it is a great thing to have.

When the Job ended in Jan of 2015, it felt as though I should do something else, and, although I won’t say I messed up – b/c a lot of things have been learned – I did make a wrong choice. Everything was sold or given away, and off to the Benedictines I went. And six months later, that ended. So… where to? Mom and Dad for a short while (and for a man over 50 that’s an odd place to be) and suddenly Sejal made it possible to come back here.

Then I decided I was going to say: that this time I was here for good, making my vow of Stability here. Am I the only person who loses a job and moves 3,000 miles? How about, the only person who does it repeatedly? And then things happened again. A job. Boom. A place to live. Boom. A church community. BOOM. (Bigger Boom.  A huge boom, really: an 8 megaton, Dominican BOOM.) And all kinds of Atlantean awesomeness.

I feel like Sally Field. I mean I know I have friends who love me, but I have a home too, a real home. That is SUCH a blessing for a man over 50 to have.

PS: The header shot is Mary Ann Singleton coming down the steps at Barbary Lane. Once there was a scavenger hunt at my office and I sent the entire company there. When I left here, in 2015, saying goodbye to those steps made me cry. So.

Thanks, God. Thanks. I really mean it.

The Dream

I was sitting in the second seat on a bus taking notes. Someone was in the first seat. The bus was stopped in a parking lot.

The driver got off the bus and the buss started to roll forward. I was not scared: the bus would stop from the little rise in front of us. But it didn’t. It crested the rise and rolled down the hill in front of us. I thought, that guy in the first seat should get up and stop the bus. But he did not.

Near the bottom of the hill was a curb or ledge of stone. I thought the bus will stop at that curb. We should brace for impact.

It broke the curb and left the road we had been on. And kept going. I should get up I thought, and hit the brakes. But I did not: I saw, ahead some train tracks and I thought we’d hit those and lose momentum. So I sat tight. We did not stop: instead we hit the tracks and turned to ride them! Now we were going quite fast. Ahead there was a fork in the track – and I was suddenly aware of a train behind us as well. We took the left fork, as the gold and white metro-liner veered right and sped off into the distance.

The left spur dead-ended in water and we splashed into it… floating down river.

I woke and instantly realized this is how temptations, especially lust, pornography and self-abuse, all work.

The Orthodox Western Rite in San Francisco

I’m a member of the OCA. We don’t have a Western Rite. In point of fact, we’ve been kinda opposed to it.  But I love it.  I’m so pleased with it that were a parish to form in San Francisco, I’d be hella supportive. The why of that is complex. I was Chrismated into the ER, I love Russian style chanting and I think our ER Holy Week is head-over-heels awesome.  I can chant our services well, I enjoy serving and I can  – with the help of our expert choir director and his “idiot books” as they are called – navigate our complex services.  
I miss, however, the simplicity of Low Mass, the starkness of Stations of the Cross, the richness of the daily office.  In the light of that last item, I am also a Novice Oblate of the Order of St Benedict, and I use a WR Daily Office as posted on a domain ironically called “Eastern Rite”.   I admit I’d like a WR parish with no pews… but the organ doesn’t scare me if it’s done right.  A “concert mass” isn’t a bad thing if it furthers devotion. The Rosary doesn’t need “Creative visualization” in order to “work”.  
As St John of San Francisco pointed out, the West was orthodox a long time before it wasn’t – and, unlike the East, the West never fell into heresy: which is why Maximus the Confessor took refuge with the Pope when the entire eastern Church fell away from the Faith.  The Western Liturgy is missing some of the “Correctives” added to the ER, because we never needed them in the West. Additionally, the “didactic hymnody” of the East is missing in the West because preaching the full faith was never outlawed here (at least not yet).
I’m not one of these people who imagines that the Western Rite is “better suited” to evangelizing Westerners. Most of the people I know couldn’t tell High Mass from Divine Liturgy or Deviled Eggs.  The unchurched, however, need missionaries and need priests.  There are enough ER communities in SF – some ROCOR Parishes are only blocks from each other.  What there are not: more than only and exactly one traditionalist WR anything.  What could hurt?
Let us pray to Pope St Gregory the great that someone will send us a new Augustine or a new Patrick. Let us pray that someone will send a new Cyril and Methodius.  Let us beg for a new St Innocent.  Let someone learn the language and reach out to us.
So if anyone is in SF and wants to pray the daily office, get with me: I do it almost daily.
And if any missionaries out there want to evangelize in SF, you should let me know. I’d love to help.

O God, who carest for Thy people with mercy and rulest them in love, through the intercession of Pope Saint Gregory, call, we pray thee, more labourers to the fields of San Francisco, white for harvest, that the flourishing of a holy flock may become the eternal joy of the shepherds; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who livest and reignest with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, ever, world without end. Amen