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On a personal note…..

I feel the need to write a note to y’all regarding our situation post-covid, and the impact it continues to have on Jennifer (especially) and myself. In particular, I need the good folks of St. Simon’s to understand how that impact affects Jennifer being able to interact with folks.

As many of you know, Jennifer and I contracted Covid last July, we caught it from someone at her mother’s funeral. We had moderate cases, she ran fever about a week and had some respiratory issues, I ran fever for 12 consecutive days before it broke, it was for me far worse than any flu I have had.

Like many people who contracted Covid, Jennifer lost her taste and smell early on. Over the next few months this side effect lingered, then began to lessen some. Unfortunately it shifted in January to Parosmia.

I will let Jennifer explain Parosmia in her own words:

For some victims of Covid at the beginning of the illness find all our olfactory senses, connections, the entire “smell” system, is damaged and not working at all, hence zero taste and smell. As we begin to heal, we begin to rewire, swollen nerve endings begin to heal and our system begins to work again, but only partially as we heal. This is the Parosmia. This partial function causes us to only smell dominant parts of things like coffee. Here’s an excerpt from the BBC article explaining this theory: ‘One theory about the origin of the horrible smells experienced by people living with the condition is that they are only sensing some of the volatile compounds that a substance contains, and that these smell worse in isolation. Their intensity could even be boosted. For example, coffee contains sulphur compounds that smell good in combination with all the other molecules that give coffee its rounded and pleasant aroma, but not so good when smelled alone.’ I’m guessing this also explains the fluctuations in taste and smell since substances contain different concentration levels, and as we heal, the different levels of molecular compounds are being sensed by our healing and ever changing olfactory receptors. This results in ever changing perception of our progress, or lack of.  I think it’s just a matter of time before things heal and level out so that we return to smelling 100% of a  substances molecular makeup, not just the dominant ingredients.

Parosmia has been known to the medical community, as it can be a side effect of chemotherapy or traumatic brain injuries as well. When Jennifer encounters things like coffee (it is the WORST, She cannot be in the house if someone brews it or even drinks it out of a cup), any meats being cooked, and a whole assortment of other foods and objects, her olfactory system translates those odors into, what she describes, as the “Covid smell”. They all smell the same, some just more intense than others. For Jennifer she says it smells like rotting flesh left out in the sun outside of a paper mill factory.

This side effect of Covid is another great reason for people to be vaccinated – it’s not just about the chance you may die, there are many other awful consequences from this disease. It has meant we cannot eat inside most restaurants, are unable to socialize whenever food is involved, keeps us out of movie theaters (popcorn ya know), and we are constantly experimenting with foods that do not impact her too much. It is ever changing as well – for instance for a good while she could eat hot dogs but now they are a hard no.

I have said all this not to ask for pity, but to both ask for prayers and patience. Last Sunday we had our first big lunch at St. Simon’s since March of last year, a celebration with so much good food and people so grateful to gather again. But Jennifer was unable to participate and it broke her heart. She wants you all to know she loves you and hopes to be able to join in all the activities soon. We appreciate your prayers.

Searching for words

The following is what I shared with my parish in our weekly Epistle:

Beloved in Christ

It may be hard to imagine, but there are actually times in my life as a minister of the Gospel where I just don’t know what to say. Witnessing the events from Wednesday at our nation’s capital has brought me to that place again. I am sure you know what I mean. That sickening feeling, that “can this really be happening” moment when your brain tries to convince you this is not possibly real. I know I cannot stay stuck there, but honestly it is hard not to.

And then I remember my ordination vows, which include these words:

As a priest, it will be your task to proclaim by word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to fashion your life in accordance with its precepts. You are to love and serve the people among whom you work, caring alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor. You are to preach, to declare God’s forgiveness to penitent sinners, to pronounce God’s blessing…In all that you do, you are to nourish Christ’s people from the riches of his grace and strengthen them to glorify God in this life and in the life to come.

“Strengthen them to glorify God in this life and in the life to come.”

I said yes to those vows almost 20 years ago. I am certain I have fallen short in fulfilling them on many occasions. For this occasion, I am asking God, just how do I do this? And God responds, “you already know the answer. You can’t, except through me. It’s time to pray.”

So, I am calling us to pray. Pray fervently, pray often, pray with words and with silence. Let us seek God’s face, God’s will, God’s grace, God’s wisdom, for ourselves and all others, to truly “care alike” for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor; and especially for all those without words. Will you join me? We can start with this prayer from our prayer book. And remember my friends, God loves you and I do too. It’s Epiphany. The light has come.

For the Human Family

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

Fr. David+

Shortly after writing this and sending it to my parishioners, we received this message from our Bishop, The Rt. Reverend Russell Kendrick. It amazed me how closely connected our thoughts were. Maybe the Holy Spirit is in the midst of this after all? Click the link to read his excellent post:

Christ the King

I am not sure what led me to try this. Perhaps a great lack of sleep? Insomnia ruled last night. Some of these words were buzzing in my head so I thought I would offer them. I don’t write poetry, but here goes…


It is Christ the King Sunday

or so we are told

by some while

others mock and scream Papist

Yet does the calendar deserve the blame or the fame

Is Christ the King

the better question

what is a king who is the Christ

We are told of a two edged sword thrusting

from his holy mouth

Riding his white horse

Ah! The horses the horses come

other ones displaying proudly their colors

Some shriek death and pain and war

Is this the king we deserve

And is that what matters with this king

The King of Love my Shepard is

Or perhaps. Mayhap. 

The Shepard of Love my King is

In this I hope

And cling

And scream

And wish the horses away

All Souls

All Souls Day

While I know the attention of most of the nation is on Election Eve, a reminder today is All Souls Day, when we reflect, remember, and pray for those who have made the transition from this life to the next.

Today I spent some time in our chapel, thinking and praying about those close to me and my family whom have died. Of course the death of Jennifer’s mother, Jacquie Forrester, in July, is fresh on my mind and heart. I had the enormous privilege of officiating and preaching her funeral. 91 years old, suffering from Alzheimer’s and then a broken hip, her last days were not what anyone would have wanted. Basically she was alone in a long term care facility with COVID restrictions. The terrible impact of this pandemic is far more reaching than just those who have suffered from the disease itself. I am grateful several of us were able to spend time with her at the end, but forever disappointed in the circumstances. Jacquie was a hero of mine, someone I loved dearly and who will impact the life of many for a long time to come.

Jacquie died almost 4 years to the day we lost my father. They are buried in the same cemetery in Hattiesburg, sacred ground for the Knight and Forrester families of course. As my grandchildren grow I really miss them knowing my dad, his humor and advice stay with me always.

I also thought of my dear Aunt Sharlie, who died in 2006. She was my mom’s younger sister and the closest thing to a female sibling myself and my brothers had. She was so funny and so dedicated to helping others. She visited us often at seminary in Chicago, and my kids, along with all her nieces and nephews, adored her. Today I could hear her wonderful laugh echoing in the chapel.

We also lost this summer my Daughter Mackenzie’s father-in-law, David Taylor Sr. He died very unexpectedly just after Jennifer’s mother died. His loss is heavy and real, an unassuming man who gave and gave and gave. Multi talented, funny, and we shared grandpa duties for Juby and Mills who adored him. Big O they called him. His loss will be felt forever but his legacy continues in his two sons and their families.

Sitting in a church chapel led me to think of a tradition in the Diocese of Mississippi we had at Clergy Conference every fall – the Dead Priests Society. Without going into too many details (they are fun and moving), what I miss the most about it is what we would do on the last evening of Clergy Conference each year. We would gather together around a make shift grave and pass a candle around the circle. As we held the candle each of us would take the opportunity to name a priest who had died and who was important to us and our vocations. It would be passed several times around the circle as we offered these blessed names. This year I would have loved the chance to say The Rev. Arnold Bush’s name. Arnold died this past January. He was my first Episcopal Priest, a man of amazing energy, intelligence, passion, and grace. I think of Arnold often and the influence he has been on my life. Arnold Bush, I raise a candle to you my dear friend and mentor.

These are the things that are lasting and important. Don’t forget them in the noise of the next few days. God is ever with us, life is short, and we need to spend our time loving and learning and serving God and each other. To Dad, to Jacquie, to Sharlie, to Arnold – bless you and thank you. May you Rest In Peace and rise in glory.

St. Simon’s post-Sally Update

I write especially to the people of St. Simon’s.

My friends, I hope you are doing ok under these trying conditions. The church still does not have power and we are unsure when Gulf Power can get to us. Consequently we cannot host services this weekend. I will live stream from my home at 9:30 Sunday morning.

The lack of power also means the phones are out. My cell, if you need it, is 561-400-6428.

Saturday morning at 9am we will meet to clean up the grounds. It is a mess! Bring a mask and WEAR CLOSED TOE SHOES! We’ve already had someone step on a nail. If you have gloves and any tools like rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows that would help.

At 11am on Saturday we will pause briefly for prayer and a simple Eucharist. This will be our only “in person” service this weekend. If you are unable to help with cleanup, you are still most welcome to come for this service. We will be socially distanced and wearing masks. Parking is limited but I am hoping we can use next door if needed. You cannot park in the back or use the drive around the building.

Inside, there is a lot of water intrusion in walls and baseboards. We are working on that now but due to the lack of AC due to power, it is not safe inside for anyone with breathing issues. We have the inside under control, minus the water cleanup, demo, and restoration efforts. We will only be working outside Saturday unless some demolition happens before then and we need to remove materials.

Stay safe everyone and I pray you have power! God bless.