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October 13, 2010
Ordinarily, a nice cat poultice is just what we need when we're a bit under the weather, but I just had my gallbladder removed through an incision the size of a buttonhole, and so I reacted ungraciously to a 20-lb cat's kneading of my stomach first thing this morning. It wasn't Santana's fault, though; his intentions were good. The same friendly impulse prompted him to sit on our newborn grandson a couple of years ago, an act which caused him to be exiled to Italy until the boy was big enough to deal with the considerable weight of Santi's affection.

Sometimes we just don't know our own strength. We offer someone something we would like, without checking to see if our enthusiasm for it is a shared one. An old saying suggests that the best gift to give someone is something you would like yourself, but that isn't at all the case: the best gift is something the recipient would like, not the giver. We bestir ourselves to learn enough about the person to make an educated guess about what that might be, an exploration which is accomplished by turning the attention outward, not inward. Gift-giving, like all acts of love, is a duet -- it's not your solo, with your friend allowed to join in only on the tiddly-poms.

Try as you might, of course, you may still miss the bullseye. All we can do is our best -- there's no guarantee that my offering won't spend the next decade in the dark recesses of an unopened drawer or occupy the place of honor at the next parish rummage sale, although most recipients have more tact than to allow that -- they take it to a thrift shop a little farther away.

Ah, me. Love doesn't come without risk. Not even requited love, love with the highest imaginable degree of mutuality: no matter how close we are, we don't know each other's hearts, not fully, and sometimes we misjudge.
I Went To A Marvelous Party

I went to a marvellous party
With Noonoo, and Nada, and Nell
It was in the fresh air,
And we went as we were,
And we stayed as we were,
(Which was hell)
Poor Grace started singing at midnight,
And she didn't stop singing 'til four
We knew the excitement was bound to begin
When Laura got blind on Dubonnet and gin
And scratched her veneer with a Cartier pin!
I couldn't have liked it more!

I've been to a marvellous party
We played a wonderful game:
Maureen disappeared
And came back in a beard,
And we all had to guess at her name...
Cecil arrived wearing armour,
Some shells and a black feather boa
Poor Millicent wore a surrealist comb
Made of bits of mosaic from St. Peter's in Rome,
But the weight was so great that she had to go home!
And I couldn't have liked it more!

I've been to a marvellous party
I must say the fun was intense;
We all had to do
What the people we knew
Might be doing a hundred years hence...
We talked about growing old gracefully,
And Elsie,who's seventy-four
Said, "A) It's a question of being sincere,
And B) If you're supple you've nothing to fear
Then she swung upside-down from a chandelier!
And I couldn't have liked it more!

I went to a marvellous party
We didn't sit down 'til ten
You know, young Bobby Carr
Did a stunt at the bar
With a lot of extraordinary men!
And then Freda arrived with a turtle,
(Which shattered us all to the core)
And then the duchess passed out at a quarter to three
And suddenly Cyril cried "Fiddle-de-dee!",
Then he ripped off his trousers
And jumped in the sea!
And I couldn't have liked it more!

I've been to a marvellous party
Elyse made an entrance with May
You'd never have guessed
From her fisherman's vest
That her bust had been whittled away...
Poor Lulu got fried on Chianti
And talked about esprit de corps;
Louise made a couple of passes at Gus,
And Freddie who "hates any kind of a fuss”
Did half the Big Apple
and twisted his truss
I couldn't have liked it more!
---Words and music by Noel Coward, 1938

Coming Events:
This Saturday, October 16, 9-3, A quiet day with Barbara Crafton at St. Simon's Episcopal Church, Staten Island Reservations are necessary; call 718-987-5252

October 17-19, "Sustainability: A Matter of Faith" at Kanuga Conference Center One of Kanuga's premier events, this conference will explore the link between faith and environmental issues. Keynoter: The Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, president and founder of Interfaith Power and Light. As one of the first faith leaders to fully recognize global warming as a core moral issue, she has mobilized thousands of religious people to put their faith into action through energy stewardship. Chaplain: The Rev. Barbara Crafton, spiritual director and award-winning author, New York. Call 828-692-9136 or visit

November 6-7 St John's Episcopal Church, West Hartford, CT Quiet Day on Saturday, Sermons on Sunday. Call 860.523.5201

November 9,5-7.15 New York City Family Caregiver Coalition Fifth Annual Evening of Celebration and Gratitude. Barbara Crafton is an honoree. Admission to the party is free, but you need an invitation to attend. Email to request one, and she will happily send it to you.

November 13-14 St. Paul's, Augusta, GA Quiet Day on Saturday, Sermons on Sunday. Call (706) 724-2485.

December 5-6 Grace Church, Camden SC Quiet Day on Saturday, Sermons on Sunday. For more info, call 803-432-7621

December 12-13 Church of the Ascension, Montgomery, AL Quiet Day on Saturday, Sermons on Sunday. Call 334-263-5529

December 18 St. Mary's Convent, Sewanee, TN Quiet Day with Barbara Crafton, "The Turning of the Year." Call (800) 728.1659 to register.

January 10-14 "Jesus Wept: When Faith and Depression Meet" at General Seminary, NYC A one-week course in the seminary's Center for Christian Spirituality, exploring the ways in which people of faith experience depression, this week will be of benefit to clergy and laity alike, both those who have experienced depression and those who care for them. Contact the Center at 212-243-5150 for information about registration.

You can find more Geranium Farm events in 2011 at
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