Monday, December 17, 2007

Advent-Christmas letter

Advent-Christmas, 2007

Happy holidays! I hope all is well with you and those you love.
Well, another busy year to put to rest.

I am still serving as Assistant to the Bishop for Communications for the Diocese of North Dakota, as an Assisting Priest at Gethsemane Cathedral and as chaplain to All Saints Episcopal Church in Valley City, N.D. I also helped out for a good part of the year at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in north Fargo, while their priest (and my good friend) Liz Powers recovered from West Nile Virus.

My seventh book of poems, Just Once, was published on February 21, which was also the fifth anniversary of my diagnosis with cancer. It’s a beautiful book that has done very well (for a book of poems). I have received many glowing reviews and comments about it.
My poems continue to be published regularly in the literary journals, including The Solitary Plover, Albatross, Arabesques, Sea Stories, Right Hand Pointing and The Litany Series. I also had a poem published this Fall in the Wilderness House Literary Review Anthology.

I was also a “poet in the schools” yet again in the spring at Cheney Middle School in West Fargo and also did a “Poetry Out Loud” session at the school in Kensal, North Dakota in November.
Be sure to check out my new website: which I launched this year. I also have a blog where I post poems, sermons, etc.
One of the low points of the year was a disturbing experience with a stalker. A bi-polar cross dresser (yes, you read that right—I couldn’t make it up even if I tried) did over $3,000 worth of damage to my car on three occasions in May and once in August after several frightening incidents of harassment. He also stole the Cathedral Coordinator’s purse and did damage to the Cathedral van. He was eventually banned from the Cathedral and has stayed away from me since, but to say it was a sobering experience is an understatement.
The Cathedral elected a new Dean in September—the Very Rev. Dr. Steven Sellers. I am very pleased with the choice and have greatly enjoyed getting to know and work alongside Dean Sellers and his wife, Dixie.
I traveled quite a bit this year—including another wonderful trip to New York City in April and an equally wonderful trip to Los Angeles earlier this month as part of my duties as a member of the Board of Governors for Episcopal Life.
I start my fifth year at the University of Mary next month, where I teach a full load of courses. In addition to classes in theology, ethics and philosophy, I also taught a course this year in Crime Literature, which was fun. The University is sending me to Phoenix in January to teach a course.
My parents are doing very well. My mother just celebrated a year and half of no smoking in May. My father continues to work right through his “retirement.” They both are dealing with the aches and pains of aging, but otherwise, they’re healthy as ever.
My brother, Jeff, had a stroke in October following a heart attack and is slowly recovering at home.
I presided at five weddings this year (with two more already scheduled in 2008), mostly of students and former students. I also had three baptisms. And of course a steady run of funerals. One of the funerals I presided over was for my Uncle, Marvin Olson, who died Nov. 21.
So, as you can see, my life is never boring. There’s always something happening and I am enjoying all of it.
I wish you only the very best this season and many, many blessings in 2008.

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