Preached on June 24, 2018, the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist and also the Feast of Bishop William Alexander Guerry of South Carolina.
Preached at Grace Cathedral in the Diocese of South Carolina for the wedding of Tom and Elizabeth Daniel, my two dear friends who I met in the green pastures of Cornell University. In the sermon I mention Eliza’s maid of honor Bella Cain, one of the most knowledgeable oyster shuckers in the country and a remarkable person who has broken barriers as a transgender woman in the tight knit world of oyster shucking. An article about her journey can be read here.
postscript: among other errata, I had a delightful conversation at the reception afterwards where one friend of Tom’s family reminded me that there is one quite significant reference to dogs in the Hebrew Bible. The name Caleb, whose courage helps lead the people of Israel into the promised land, means dog. Courageous and steadfast. Amen.
This sermon was preached at The Church of the Epiphany on Third Easter, just a little over a year after Gurdon’s death. His vision of Jesus’ triumphant love in the midst of loss inspires us day after day.
Preached at Church of the Epiphany Trumansburg on January 21, 2018
November 18, 2017
In a remarkable breakthrough, Cornell University scientists working in collaboration with the NSA as well as loyal Botanic Garden volunteers have discovered a new way to identify the rightful wrongful owners of dog poop left in unmarked bags alongside the majestic walking paths of Cornell’s Botanic Gardens. Cornell Professor Dr. Penelope “Peeny” Foshills of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics describes the situation and what led to the breakthrough.
“I’m an inveterate walker,” Dr. Foshills said. “Any number of my most important scientific breakthroughs have come when I have left the cramped quarters of my laboratory and headed out past Beebe Lake and into the incredible beauty of the York Herb Garden. Usually a sniff or two of the many herbs at the York garden will awaken my creative senses and I’ll double back to the lab and have my problem solved. On occasion, when the problem is particularly challenging, I’ll need to make my way through the Mundy Wildflower Garden, cross Caldwell Road and amble up to Newman Overlook. One look at the light dancing on the ponds down below and my mind relaxes and the inspiration I need comes almost immediately. So you can imagine my dismay when the other day as I was deep in thought, I stepped into the most prodigious pile of dog poop imaginable. Some ninny dropped it on the path in one of those biodegradable doggie poop bags the Botanic Gardens are so nice enough to provide our many dog walkers. The smell, let us say, was no bed of petunias.”
Dr. Fosshils then went into considerable detail about the dog poop extraction process she followed and which we will spare our reader.
The unfortunate event inspired her rather unusual scientific mission. “I was telling my horror story to one of my colleagues, Dr. Clatterpop in Veterinary Science,” Dr. Foshills added, “and Sylvia began telling me about the most remarkable breakthrough in her own lab. It seems that dogs, of which I am not terribly familiar, have an irresistible need to lick the faces of their humans.” The Nobel Prize winning geneticist made a scrunchy face. “Dr. Clatterpop shared with me that minute traces of the facial skin cells removed by such behavior can be detected even in the… “ Dr. Foshills paused and proceeded to smile like the Cheshire cat. “I didn’t let her finish the sentence.”
Back in the lab, Dr. Foshills ran the specimen through her Licor 4200 and soon enough had extracted the human DNA from her smelly sample. This is where the NSA came in. “So I had the perpetrator of the dastardly deed’s DNA,” Dr. Foshills said, “but no way to identify it.” That’s when her other friend, Professor Gregor Blazanov in Poly Sci came to her rescue. “Gregor is a real card, but he’s got a few friends in the Trump Administration. “”Peeny!’ he exclaimed, ‘Peeny, don’t you know the NSA has all of us on file?’ Well, Gregor owed me one and before I’d even finished my daily stretch break in the Minns Garden, he’d called me back on my cell with the positive ID.” Mr. Jasper H. McGillicuddy was subsequently contacted and is now doing community service picking up poop bags on the Treman Woodland Walk for a month of Sundays.
Reached for comment, Mr. McGillicuddy offered the following thoughts in addition to his heartfelt apology to Dr. Foshills for his bad behavior. “I had no idea the gardens were so beautiful! I’ve been walking these trails with my dog for years, mostly talking and texting on my cell phone. If this is punishment, give me more. Did you know about the Japanese primroses??”
Dr. Foshills, pleased to learn of Mr. McGillicuddy’s new leaf, offered one final thought. “Dog walkers, enjoy the gardens, keep your dogs on their leashes, and their poop on your person. Oh, and consider yourselves warned.” She smiled impishly and then turned and headed off with deliberate speed down the Kienzle Overlook trail.