Observations 41

Chivalry on Sea Breeze Drive

I befriended a lady this week.

I am fully aware of the complications that can arise from such an act of kindness. You know how people talk. But still, she had stumbled into my Sea Breeze driveway, and I felt an uncontrollable urgency to act.

I knew at once that she was high born for she wore a sophisticated tea rose orange gown cut with impeccable taste, custom fitted to her petite form. Perhaps, I wondered, the black smudges that freckled the dress were the result of some unknown trauma encountered on the highway. It must have been those bad kids down the road throwing mud at her I thought, anger rising within me.

I knelt down and checked for signs of life. Not hearing any breathing, I was about to engage in CPR when she moved. It was just a faint fluttering of her gown, but I took it as a positive sign. I bent low and whispered words of comfort and inquiry.

She seemed startled and made an attempt to rise and flee.

I stopped her. “You’re not ready,” I said softly.

She paused realizing flight was an impossibility at the moment.

“Let me help you,” I said.

She would have none of it, searching frantically for an escape.

I lifted her from the ground. She made no resistance. A slight morning breeze drifted in across the ocean marsh ruffling her begonia gown, summoning.

I knew she would leave, and I would never see her again. I knew.

Still, I tossed her gently into the wind, and she was gone.

(But as we all know, real friends never really leave us).

David R. Denny


Observations #40

Version 2

Whistling in the Dark

It was close to midnight on the front porch, and the darkness clung to the unseen horizon muffling the ocean murmurs. The only sounds I heard were a few distant geese and some of the nuthatches that flitter in the cedars behind my house. The silence was haunting, almost frightening as I contemplated the mysteries lurking in the darkness beyond the Cedar Island shoreline.

I’m not sure what prompted me to whistle. Perhaps it was nothing more than an instinctive summons from nature; I’m not sure, but whatever it was, I just whistled and waited. The few lone chirps and distant squawks hushed, and all that remained was my solitary porch note gliding along the black corridors of the Point. I noticed at once that my brief melody lingered a while echoing off some distant pine tree before it slipped under night’s cover and was gone forever.

That simple whistle brought me such sudden joy I couldn’t wait to launch another. This time I added a little trill to the melody wondering if perhaps I might a get a response. But there was no answer; just a ponderous silence that tried to interpret my meaning. I knew I had an audience now for the night sounds had grown still, and I just knew that a thousand little-unseen eyes were looking this way.

Smiling, I whistled for a few more minutes sampling a variety of orchestral tempos from adagissimo to affrettando (very slow to hurrying). Each spontaneous stanza meandered over the dark marsh beyond and then sank slowly into the ocean.

It was something akin to praying, I thought. Little pieces of the soul flung out toward the heavens, waiting, hoping, expecting. Yes. It was little like praying.
David R.Denny

Dream Team Meeting #1 January 20, 2018


Location: Onley Coffee House 10:30 am-January 20, 2018

Members: David Denny–Alice Rew–Susan Warren–Shirley Deeds–Eddie Mears–Cindy Milliner–Jo Coniglio–Linda Nyborg–Cheryl Bloxom–Alice Denny–Susan Mears–Shevon Kellam (Girl Scouts)

Selection of officers: Moderator (Dr. Denny)–Assistant moderator– (Eddie Mears)– Secretary– (Shirley Deeds)  Treasurer– Susan Mears)

Building an energized and meaningful Sunday school for all ages.

1. What did Sunday school mean to you when you were a kid? Any Memories?

2.  What makes Vacation Bible School and our annual Christmas programing so popular for kids and their parents.  (Could we duplicate these elements into our Sunday school?)

3.  What can we do to get started? Let’s list and discuss some innovations:  *A monthly emphasis? This might include: Sunday lunch–special music–kids involvement–attendance goals by classes with awards in worship hour? (hat day–write a letter day–cake day–scarf day etc–(Just to have fun).

4.  How can we pull in all the families with children that are already a part of the extended church family? Who are they? Make a list. SS newsletter to mail to all prospective families.

5.  Selection of teachers and Training for teachers. (Order literature when ready) Have a local SS convention using resources from Bridge Network–(Lynn Hardaway and Kim Jessie). Invite other churches to join us.

6.  Set a kick off Sunday. Make it a big day. Use our master prospect list. Get everyone to come. What can we do for this day and what is the date? Worship service announcements and pep talks

7.  Scholarships for families with children. Join the church and attend at least 40 times a year and the DBC will invest in your child’s future. $100 scholarships for starters. Then every 3 years that increases by $25 until the child enrolls in a college or university.


Homework: Over the next month as we wait for the February meeting, pull out your Dream Team folder when you have a few quiet moments and write down your thoughts and ideas on the paper I provided. This will be our beginning point at the next meeting.

*2nd meeting–February 1, 2018–Drummondtown Church –6:00 pm

*3rd meeting date and time–February 10, 2018–Panzotti’s Restaurant 10:30 am.

Dreamer1 2


Observations #36


Sunrise at Henry’s Point, Sea Breeze Drive
(Photo by Dr. Denny)

I paused on my morning walk recently as the sun stretched regally over the Cedar Island marsh that rolls out like a velvet carpet to the shore.  The horizon seemed almost to be on fire as I stood and stared in wonderment at the painting before me.
And then this deer quietly slipped out of the dark forest brush on full alert fully aware of my intrusion into his morning ritual.  It was one of those mystical moments that I knew would vanish within minutes.  I wanted so badly to freeze it, to command it to linger longer, but, alas within a few dolorous winks of a faint morning breeze, it was but a delicious memory.
        In some ways, this sunrise fantasy reminds me of the year just past.  It rose with promise balancing on the precipice of time and then quickly vanished into December’s mist.  Gone.  Within a blink or two twelve months slipped into the sea and left me realizing how fragile time really is, how fleeting the gift of life can be.
I stood a few minutes longer beneath the golden haze lost in lazy thoughts wondering what the deer was thinking and if he sensed the divine like I did.  I wanted to ask him, but before I could the sun bade farewell, the day began, and he was gone.

Christmas Shoe Boxes

We had another successful shoe box campaign this year.  Everyone gathered on a Wednesday night, including the girl scouts who helped this time.  Shirley Deeds spearheaded the event and close to 80 packed boxes were stacked in the sanctuary  ready for delivery to the needy around the world.



Hanging of the greens

The kids are practicing for the Hanging of the Greens service in December.  Jo Coniglio, the church organist, teaches them the songs for the service.  Megan Campbell watches from the front seat.
During the service on Sunday morning, these kids were such a delight to all the congregation.  They sang several songs and then bustled off stage to gather in ornaments which they paraded down the center aisle of the church in an endless stream dropping off their ornaments and looping into the back to gather more.  Thanks, kids, for your participation.

 Dale Parks and Linda Young pose beneath the pulpit in front of the poinsettias.  All the members of the Flower Committee (Alice Rew, Ted Lewis, Amy Kay Hines, and Shelly Mize) did an exceptional job of decorating the church.  This is one of the most beautiful sanctuaries on the Shore.  Be sure to stop and enjoy it before the holidays slip away.

The Dream Team will have its first meeting on January 20th at 10:30 at the Crossroads Coffee House in Onley.  Anyone is welcome to participate.  Currently there are eleven volunteers.  Our mission is a simple but complex one:  DREAM!  What can we do to make our church better, more effective, more interesting to absentee members and outsiders.  Our goal will be to dream of ways to spur growth and inspire many in the surrounding area to become a part of our church family.

Candlelight Service

  The Drummondtown Baptist Church Candlelight Service will be held December 23 at 7:30 pm.    Everyone is welcome.

Closing Thoughts

Let’s not forget the miraculous offering on Harvest Home Day, November 19, 2017.   On this hallowed day, the church gave from free and thankful hearts over $21,000.00!
The pastor will be out of the pulpit for two weeks– December 31, 2017 and January 7, 2018.

Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year!

Observations #27

From the Schoolhouse
David R.Denny

Staff meeting.  Friday morning.  June 9, 2017.  8:40 am.  Room 803.  Sixth grade hall.

    I saw Shore birds dancing in the surf.birds.jpg

The tension was thick.  The teachers were huddled among the kids’ desks wondering, waiting, pondering their fates that hung in the stale air of this old science room.  I sat among them, trying to blend in, untethered from their concerns, drifting on a head wind that carried me far away.  Suddenly, the door opened and the assistant principal walked in clutching a briefcase.  Silence.  He played with the computer for a minute and then flashed a color coded schedule upon the Promethean Board.  Everyone squinted.  Discerning eyes dissected the spreadsheet.  Silence.  Hard thinking.  Whispering.  More whispering.  Dark eyes.  Troubled expressions.  A smile here and there.  More whispering.  An explanation from the AP.  Silence.  Furrowed brows.

        I saw Shore birds dancing in the surf.  

A question from a teacher in the back desk.  The answer was quick, curt, sterile.  She studied the spreadsheet again.  She sighed.  Brow furrowed.  Another teacher drew closer to her.  Comfort.  Anxiety.  Consequences.

         I saw shore birds dancing in the surf and I too sighed.

From the Pulpit

Nehemiah walked the walls and noticed the change of mood.  The people had been working with such joyous determination for days.  The new vision of a restored city with strong, solid walls had lifted them all to new heights.  But threats from Sanballat, the governor of nearby Samaria were spreading among the workers.   Quickly fear ravaged the workforce.  Nehemiah saw it in their faces.  They had suddenly given up.  weapons.jpg

And then there was a moment of brilliant inspiration.  Nehemiah knew what he would do.  He called the people together and told them something startling.  He would teach them how to become warriors.  He would give them reasons to fight.  He would distribute weapons.  And when he did these things, the people rose to the challenge.  The work resumed.  Vigilance reigned.  Sanballat watched from afar but did not attack.

Can we learn something from this ancient remedy to paralyzing fear?  I think so.  Just pick up the weapons God has given you and become a spiritual warrior.

From the Pews

The quarterly church conference began with prayer and the quiet reading of the minutes.  Then Tommy Hines presented the matter at hand–a leaking roof.  He reminded everyone of the soaked front pews and soggy carpet that followed a recent storm.  The roof needed vital repairs.  The cost to replace the entire roof was exhorbitant–over $100,000.00  A smaller repair would be adequate, however.  Everyone sighed and voted for the smaller repair.

Observations #16

Dr. David R. Denny
From the Schoolhouse

Ahmed tossed first.

I stood and watched and remembered how it was when the school year began.  He was assigned to be my mentee and I was the mentor. Most teachers grumbled about this new task forced upon a staff already underwater with a workload that had us all gasping for air.  Ahmed didn’t understand any of this.  He just knew he was a new kid in this country and I was his mentor for the year.  BEAN-BAG-TOSS-GAME-1-hole

I tossed second.

He was a mess.  Coming from an impoverished family, he was learning American culture a day at a time.  He missed so many days because of endless turmoil at home.  And when he came, he wore crumpled shirts looking like a shoddy mannequin at a Goodwill store.  

He tossed again.

We laughed. He missed the whole thing!  Oh well, it was all just fun.  It was mentor day and we were in Commons 2 bonding along with the other 25 mentees.  

I tossed and hit the hole.  “Wow!”, he shouted.  

We had become good friends.  He always skipped my Civics class.  A hundred unique sob stories surfaced each day after about why he couldn’t make it.  “I had an earache today,” he told me.  I just smiled and didn’t make a big deal about it.  He knew how I felt.  I had told him a million times why he needed to come to class but…

He tossed and the bag slid right across the corn hole.

Then I tossed.

Then he tossed.

If only life was this majestic.

From the Pulpit

My sermon Sunday, A Tale of Two Sisters, led us to the country door of two unique women (Luke 10::38-42).  Martha was the busy one, the pragmatic soul who got things done.  She often worked while her sister, Mary, sat.  Martha was a bit of a perfectionist.  She wanted the lavender napkins on the table with the gold-rimmed china. Mary, on the other hand, was the dreamer.  When Jesus stopped by for a visit, Martha prepared the meal and set the table while Mary sat in the living room at the feet of Jesus just listening to Him talk about life’s abstractions such as forgiveness, love, the meaning of life, heaven.  Martha complained to the Master, but He chided Martha for worrying too much about trivialities.  Mary had found the “optimum partem” (the best part) or perhaps the secret to life.  She sat and just listened.  Jesus commended her for this.  I think we need both women, both personalities.  But the Lenten season is more a Mary time than a Martha time.

From the Pew

He said his name was David and that he was the Health Inspector in Onancock.  We chatted a minute and then he took a seat and I scurried to the front to lead the service.  I thought about it later and wondered what he thought of our health.  I had never had a visitor stop in to check on such things.  But he stated his life’s calling quite clearly when he could have easily omitted it.  He was the one who gauges health.  And he was here at our church.  And so naturally I wondered how the inspection would go.  Would he find us well and healthy or perhaps a bit anemic?  Would he feel the need to write a hasty prescription?  Did we need an urgent dose of expensive medicine?  Should we go in for a further diagnosis?  

David, the Health Inspector, seemed engaged with the sermon as I spoke.  He nodded a few times at certain points and his brow furrowed occasionally as he gave some ideas deep reflection.  I could see him making mental notes, fiddling with the Hippocratic oath, making connections.  health inspector

After the benediction, I hurried to the back to get his prognosis.  After all, it’s quite rare nowadays for Health Inspectors to make house calls like this.  But to my dismay, when I wove through the crowd toward the exits, David was gone.  I asked a few people about him, but no one seemed to know.   Perhaps he felt compelled to rush back to the office, consult his learned tomes, search for comparables among other patients and then polish off his report.

So…, I haven’t received it yet, but if anyone reading this has seen David, the Health Inspector, from Onancock, please let me or Mark Mize or Cindy Milliner know.  

(I hope the report was a good one).

Observations #18

Dr. David R. Denny
From the Schoolhouse


The kids and I sat tensely waiting. They chattered quietly pretending they weren’t frightened.  But smoke and chaos had been unleashed when the first notice of the bomb drill came, and now we all sat huddled in anticipation of its possibilities. And then the promised alert  sputtered over an antique intercom system.  “Attention faculty and staff.  This is a bomb drill.  Everyone proceed calmly to the nearest exit.”  The words, ‘proceed calmly’ might has well been Yiddish.  No middle schooler ever proceeded calmly anywhere.  

I flipped off the room lights and pointed my eighth grade kids to the exit down a narrow hall.  They spilled out onto this interstate joining the sixth and seventh graders all jostling for space, shoulder to shoulder, feet kicking heels, stirring up squeals of protest mingled with adrenaline long squashed by mathematics and essay writing and other dreaded school tasks.  

As I bobbed along in this maelstrom of youthful exuberance, head and shoulders above them all, I watched the sea of life wash out doors normally locked and onto open fields behind the school.  Sunlight scorched our eyes.  The fragrance of football grass filled the air as each grade and class lined up on white streaked yardage markers.  Teachers blew whistles and kids stumbled into makeshift lines while names were called to find the missing souls.  

There is something invigorating about bomb days.  If only the world’s terrorists could walk where I did today perhaps they would see things differently.  Bomb days were never meant to be destructive affairs.  Bomb days are rare moments in young lives to jostle down hallways and giggle and feel the friendship of adults who guide them to safety.

From the Pulpit

   Sunday, we followed the exuberant and brash Pompey, only 24 years old, as he forced his way into Rome in the year 80 BC.  He refused to wait for the Triumph to be offered for his spectacular victories in Africa.  So he hitched his chariot to some African elephants and stormed the Tiber bridge.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the elephants through the main gate leading into the city.  Such an embarrassment!  

     Compare this triumphal entry to that of Jesus who rode a humble donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.   The Gospels tell us that “no one knew his name” (Matt. 21:1-11).  Such a contrast between Pompey’s triumphal entry.  Everybody knew the general’s name and his reputation for slaughter and mayhem in Africa.  

   I prefer the Savior’s humble entry.  (But that’s just me).

From the Pew

    I was the last one out Sunday!  

    I stood with my untested key at the door and glanced once last time across the silent pews.  Gone was the happy chatter, the buoyant greetings and rediscoveries that make Sundays in the pews so refreshing and compelling.  The silence was sad for me.  There was no singing organ with its pipes in full throat leading the congregation in Amazing Grace.  The Lord’s Prayer wasn’t whispering its sacred truths.  The offering plates weren’t beckoning for support.  The prayer requests hid in the darkness.  

     I sighed and slipped the key into the lock.  It fit.  It turned.  It locked.  

     I left.