Memory Confirmed!

Two miles, fruit and coffee, clean-up and Morning Prayer, and public-facing coffee ministry at The Missing Bean as I work toward Sunday’s sermon.

In answer to yesterday’s question, two of my four correspondents remembered the incident — which I’m counting as sufficient evidence to assert it as truth. From now on, ‘caught between two thoughts’ is an documented phrase referring to a condition of inattention (whether general inattention or lack of attention to what runs out to be the most important ting). (Edit: Sad Correction. The un-search-able phrase was ‘caught him between two thoughts’; alas, ‘caught between two thoughts’ yields abundant results. I’ll just go sit in the corner and sulk.)

_____ Memory Syndrome

For years — thirty-eight or so years — I’ve had a certain phrase in my head, a phrase for which I get no Google results. It arises from the context of Duke basketball, and the expectation that my mates and I would watch televised games together during our graduate studies in Durham.

One afternoon, or night, we were watching a game (I have the strong sense that it was an ACC game, and almost as strong a sense that it involved Duke) in which a player (it could’ve been Quin Snyder) was operating on the perimeter, the camera following him although he didn’t have the ball. He may have broken toward the paint, or may have been sizing up the defence, when we, the viewers, saw the ball flying into the frame and bouncing off the stalwart, startled young man — at which point the commentator observed, ‘[The ball] caught him between two thoughts.’ In my recollection, we all found this a side-splittingly funny remark, and it became a byword for situations in which someone was caught off guard, especially (in our academic setting) by an unanticipated question or observation.

But in retrospect, I realised that I couldn’t be totally sure about the whole memory; I am, after all, getting older, and the phrase seemed not to have left any trace on the internet. So this afternoon I wrote to my post-grad basketball buddies, to check my recollection with them….

I Would Run Two… Two Miles

Ran my morning route (mildly frustrated that my new, more ambitious pace hasn’t just become routine for sore muscles), coffee and hot breakfast, cleaned up, Morning Prayer, emails and admin, Staff Meeting, more email, a break for reading and napping, dinner, and shortly the parish marriage prep class for four couples (or fewer, if they don’t show up).


Two frustratingly stiff and short-winded miles; coffee and fruit breakfast; cleaned up and got ready for Morning Prayer, to which I’ll go next. Yesterday I cleared almost all my email, hallelujah, and began reading again — some time spent reading Don Camillo and the Prodigal Son, some time reading Candida Moss’s God’s Ghostwriters, some reading The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity. I’m still somewhat shell-shocked from obligatory reading/marking from term-time, but that usually diminishes over a week or so.

Eerie Prospect

Two miles, fruit breakfast and coffee, clean up, go to Morning Prayer — then (I whisper this) my week looks as if I won’t be manically busy. Maybe I’ll even make progress on the two essays on which I’m criminally late…

Unconfirmed, So Far

Another morning, another two miles, another fruit breakfast with coffee, another shower, another Mass and sermon, then another Confirmation Class, and just finished writing another column for the parish newspaper. The sermon went down well; Confirmation Class was fine; and now it’s time for reading and perhaps a nap.

Two Days In One

I was up late last night for the Finalists’ Dinner at Oriel, so I was not inclined to run this morning. On the other hand, I made my way downstairs in good time, and was drawn out by the gorgeous morning light, and (knowing that dark skies and rain were due for the afternoon) mostly walked, ran for very short spells, and ticked my two-mile box. Coffee, hot breakfast, and I’ll need to write a couple of pieces for church.

Last night marked, as usual, a splendid occasion for visiting with students with whom I greatly enjoyed working. We shared Finalists’ Dinner with Philosophy (Phil/The, to be exact) and, I think, Classics, and one of the philosophers observed to me that Oriel seemed to them to build community within the college distinctly more deeply and thoroughly than other colleges. That goes double for Oriel theologians; my philosophical interlocutor didn’t know how hard Bill Wood and Brendan Harris have worked to cultivate, nourish, and preserve the close-knit fabric woven of our students and staff. Floreat Oriel!

Last Day of Eighth (For Me)

Two miles, fruit breakfast, clean up, Morning Prayer, then to Oxford for my last tutorial of the academic year. After lunch, I’ll drift home and prepare for the PCC meeting tonight. Margaret is still home, thank heaven.

We Know Where Our Towels Are

My colleague clergy and I were talking at staff meeting about how fast time passes; for instance, I’ve lived in Abingdon for seven months now, after three months in Headington, after ten months in our second home in Oxford. We’re beginning to feel cautiously secure after months of housing instability.

Contrariwise for our lives together: Margaret and I married forty-two (auspicious sum!) years ago today, and that duration seems both long (each has lived [roughly] twice as long married as we did single) and fast as the burst of a strobe light. Our hearts and years expanded to include children (once children, now all very adult) and grandchildren, and hundreds and hundreds of students, and friends from Maine and Pittsburgh and New Haven and Durham NC and Florida and Princeton and Evanston and Maryland and Glasgow and Oxford. We have family in the US who we don’t see enough, some we will never see again; we’ve shared our lives with Pearl the Wonder Dog, and Beatrice, and now Minke and Señora Flora Dora ‘Ora Labora’ Dinosaura, and it’s amazing cos we only got married, what, a few days ago?

I married a sweet, lovely couple at St Helen’s last Saturday; I asked them ‘N., will you take M. to be your wife? Will you love her, comfort her, honour and protect her, and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?’ ‘M., will you take N. to be your husband? Will you love him, comfort him, honour and protect him, and, forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?’

Margaret, will you take me for your husband, for another forty-two years… and beyond?

After Weeks

Ran my two miles (at my new pace, my legs complain a bit more, but I do get home sooner, so that’s jolly), coffee, cleaned up and had a hot breakfast, and prayed the Morning Office at home because I’m expecting the plumber.

Sometime after the plumber arrives — and I hope, after he’s gone, because he’s installing a new shower pump so that the shower will flow with more (that is, ‘some’) force, an enhancement I arranged as a surprise for Margaret — my beloved will return from Heathrow, and we’ll have an anniversary kiss (forty-two years today); then I’ll dash off to the staff meeting, and in the evening help lead the marriage preparation course at St Helen’s.

Hoping, Hoping

I ran my miles, had my coffee and fruit, and will shortly clean up and go to Morning Prayer. I am hoping to take up no other immediate job-related work today, to soak up some measure of rest. We will see…