Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Dear Rebekah,

I am sad that you and Mark broke up. You have very much been a part of my family for the last few months. You were so kind and helpful during the last months of Larry's life. You made him smile and feel appreciated.

On the trip to California, besides being our navigator, you related to everyone in your cheerful, enthusiastic way, increasing the happiness for all. Ryan seemed to enjoy your company more than that of anyone else. The trip was a one of a kind, unforgettable event for me. You will always be in my heart for what you did to help me through the sadness of Larry's death.

I pray that you will be able to put the pieces of you life together anew, in a way that uses all your gifts and brings you the happiness you deserve.


Friday, September 8, 2017


This is an e-version of the card I sent  thanking folks for the kindness they had shown to us during the time Larry was departing this life for Eternity. I would have sent you a hardcopy if I had your new address. We are grateful that we can call you friends.



Revelation 22
[1] And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
[2] In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

William Blake, Vision of Last Judgment The Temple stands on the Mount of God from it flows on each
side the River of Life on whose banks Grows the tree of Life
among whose branches temples & Pinnacles tents & pavilions
Gardens & Groves Display Paradise with its Inhabitants walking up
& down in Conversations concerning Mental Delights 
Here they are no longer talking of what is Good & Evil or of what is Right or Wrong & puzzling themselves in Satans 
Labyrinth But are Conversing with Eternal 
Realities as they Exist in the Human Imagination”

Larry's earthly life extended from March 7, 1926 to Dec 23, 2016. But he is still immersed in the crystal waters of the river of life as he continues his journey to the sea of love and joy where all disputes are resolved, all error forgiven and where we understand even as we are understood.

My desire is to thank all who have supported, encouraged and assisted us as we went through the parting of body from spirit in the last few weeks. Your caring was not restricted to days but extended throughout the years when we have worn this garment of flesh. Our gratitude cannot be expressed in a few words, but we feel it and want you to know how you have blessed us.


Dear Tim,

This is an e-version of the card I sent  thanking folks for the kindness they had shown to us during the time Larry was departing this life for Eternity. I would have sent you a hardcopy if I had your current address.

You and Mary Joseph were the only two outside of his family who visited Larry in the hospital. It meant so much to him to have that conversation with you about real things as he was leaving behind the illusory world. We did not know what he knew nor see what he saw. I hope that he was privy to a vision of the better world whose gate he was soon to enter.   


Dear Dad,
As you turn ninety, I wanted to write for you about you, especially about the qualities that connect us. These are the qualities that I see in you, that I am proud to see also in myself - your gifts to me. This is my way of thanking you and celebrating those gifts.  

Spirituality is the foundation, the theme that runs through your life and binds together my story of you. I learned from you to to regard the spiritual life as the true life, the material life as merely the scenery. Your dedication to Christ, your study of Jung, your obsession with Blake - all of these model for me the commitment to and fascination with, the inward journey and your spiritual path.
I've always admired your courage in moving us all to Washington so that we could be part of the Church of the Savior. You saw that spirituality could be deeper and pervade life more thoroughly - you heard a spiritual call, dropped everything, and followed. You showed me that spiritual impulse takes us where we belong.

I have not followed the same path that you have, but I am not sure they are so different ... both are paths of love, paths of compassion, paths of responsibility. You set my feet on this path many years ago, and I thank you.


I have always felt a profound passion for justice, and I have always traced that passion back to you. You always taught me that Jehovah was the God of the oppressed and that Jesus was the champion of the downtrodden. You taught me that all people are children of God have inherent dignity and worth.

I'll never forget the story of your telling your parishioner about the big black woman who would be singing in the heavenly choir right next to her. It's a funny story, but it was a courageous thing to say, and I bet those courageous stands cost you.

I learned from you to stand up for justice, to stand shoulder to shoulder with my peers for fairness, and most of all to identify with the interest of all who are oppressed. I will be thinking of you when I'm on the picket lines next month.

You taught me to take my spirituality into the world and let it animate a vision of the just society, and I thank you for this wonderful gift.


You taught me, too, that vision and abstract justice are not enough, but that we must personally help those who are struggling. When I was a child, I knew that you walked with men who were struggling to escape addiction, and I was proud. When I was older, you humbled yourself and dedicated your time to housing the poor, and I watched with pride. Even now I see you ministering to the sick.

I see my work as a therapist as a direct continuation of your ministry, beloved Dad. I have a client now whom I see three days each week for no fee, and I often imagine him as a new incarnation of one of your old probationers. He has endured forty years of alcoholism and is wracked by terror, and terrible feelings of aloneness. Yet he also shows profound compassion and beauty of spirit, and writes the most beautiful poems. I dedicate my work with him to you, my father, in loving gratefulness for your compassionate example.   


Always, I have see you relating to others, connecting spiritually, building community. I remember the meetings you used to have at our house on Jersey Avenue with Miriam, Bob & Olga, Carla & many others, and I learned that all of these passions aren not mere private introspections of abstract musings and commitments, but experiences to be shared with others. I have seen this again and again in your life as you engaged with others through Gateway, Second Step, coffee hour at the C of S, and you own Quaker gatherings. I see the very personal relationships, too, like the one you have built with Paul and Judith. 

I feel a deep kinship with you in this profound valuing of interpersonal connection. My work as a therapist manifests this valuing, as I strive to bring healing through the process of connection, and I have learned from you to strive to deepen connection with those I meet on the path.  

As long as I have been alive, Dad, I have seen you following your own path. You never made the conventional choice, but always the courageous one, when it was important. Letting spirit be your guide, rather than the values of those surrounding you, has been one of your greatest gifts to me.

Here I return to your decision to follow your calling to move to Washington and become part of the Church of the Savior. I don't think I knew at the time what an unconventional decision that was, but as I grew I began to realize the courage, the commitment and the fierce autonomy from mainstream expectations that decision required.

Your very commitment to spiritualit reflects to me this constant choosing of the "road less traveled by." While others might have taken refuge from life's suffering, and the ains of aging, in even more comfort or mild addictions, you have gone for refuge to your old friend William.

As you have faced fearlessly this hero's journey, you have helped build in me my own courage to face that journey. When I faced the dead-end of my career in law and politics, instead of resigning myself to a life of quiet desperation, I followed your example and turned inward to find my true path. When a strange to whom I reached out suggested I get the help of a Jungian, it was like the ringing of a bell deep in my soul - a bell that you planted there. Because of your example, I was able to see that I did not have to follow the conventional path, that I could discard my conventional achievements and position and walk into the wilderness.

Now, having silenced the voices urging me to conventional successes, I have been able to hear the inner voice summoning me to my truer calling. Thank you for showing your son that, in fact one's own path is the only path.   


All of these qualities: your profound spirituality; your passion for justice; your identification with the oppressed; your compassionate service to others; your commitment to interpersonal engagement; and your commitment to following your own path; all of these qualities have been passed on to me. I find myself proud to feel that, in many ways, I am carrying on your works. 

As we celebrate your 90TH birthday, as you draw ever closer to becoming, in Henry James' term, "all spirit," I hope that you can feel that, in the deepest way possible, I am truly your son, and that it brings you satisfaction and pleasure. I know that it brings me profound comfort, pride and delight to feel that I am, in the deepest way possible, your son and that you are, in the deepest way possible truly my father.

Robert Edwin Clayton, Psy.D.
15 March 2016 


March 2016

Thursday, September 7, 2017


September 2015

Dear Rennie,

We got your card yesterday and both appreciate it. The best part about going on an adventure is seeing how it unfolds in unexpected ways. You may be finding that although you may have expected to be turning to the outside world when you started your trip, instead you may be turning inward to your creativity, your studies and your reflection.

We are starting a trip to the mountains on Sunday afternoon. On Monday afternoon we should get to Aunt Joel's in Signal Mountain near Chattanooga. This is a trip Grampa really wants to do. I hope it is not too exhausting for him.

Although Grampa was born in the flatlands, he fell in love with the Appalachian Mountains when we first visited them in 1959. In 1963 we moved to North Carolina to be near the mountains. For about 40 years we lived near enough to the mountains to visit them in a few hours or less. Moving to Florida in 1999 means we only see mountains occasionally. We expect this may be the last time we see them.

It is always lovely to hear from you.


Unfortunately we didn't make it to the mountains. Larry fell at the Visitors Center in south Georgia. He broke bones in his face and required surgery. Although he recovered he was weakened and unable to travel to the mountains before he died in December 2016. 

We started our trip to Chattanooga on Sunday but didn't get very far. Dad fell on his face at the Georgia Visitors Center and went to the Emergency Room at Valdosta. There are fractures in bones around his eye socket. We got back to Ocala around 8 o'clock Sunday.

We are at home trying to see the right doctor to evaluate treatment. Dad is strong and alert but looks a mess. We should learn today if surgery may be required. Although things move slowly, we get enormous help from numerous people. 

Dad got to see the face surgeon today and he scheduled a repair job for Thursday. Dad has not been in pain but he is unable to chew. He was better today than yesterday as far as bleeding and swelling is concerned. I feel more relaxed now that there is a plan which should lead to recovery.
It doesn't take long to get tired of a liquid diet.

Dad's surgery is scheduled to for 2:00 today. He is holding up well. We know that we are are supported by God's love and by that of friends and family. We put ourselves in the hands of doctors, nurses and medical folks knowing that they are working to make him well and whole again.  

After several days in the hospital -
We are home as of 5PM. We will take it slow until Dad regains his strength and agility. His improvement between yesterday and today was remarkable. He will use the walker until he is steadier.
Hoping for a complete recovery.

Dad made good progress today. He ate better. He had a shower with my assistance. His routine demands a lot of time but is simple - pills, drops, sprays, ointments. He is motivated to do as much as he can to regain his strength. The surgeons work is top-notch.
We are confident that each day will be better than the day before.


Draft of Inside/Outside
November 2004 

I am much too down-to-earth, too ordinary, too uncomplicated. I've never had those kinds of experiences. I had one vision, if you could call it that, a sudden joyous, liberating, overwhelming conviction that my Heavenly Father loved me personally--after years as a skeptic and deist. I know that there is a perfectly natural explanation for what happened to me, and many people would consider it ordinary, but I know, too, that I entered the kingdom of God as a little child.
But that's it. It meant an entirely different life than I had been leading; I would be scared to death to allow anything more intense because it would be the "third heaven", and I'm most certainly not qualified.


Larry Clayton to Joe Petree
May 2005 
Nice to hear from you, Joe.  I thought I had scared you off with my rabid sermon.
Heart attack; double by pass.  Oh my!  In the old days that was a lot more serious
than it is today.  Still it's good to learn that it's still feasible at our age.  I may be
due for a retread one of these days-- after 7 years.

We're up here in Washington right now, Joe and supposed to start south tomorrow
morning.,  Unfortunately we're taking an eastern route: Ellie made arrangement with
our son, Paul, to meet him at the mouth of the Neuse to get acquainted with his

A few years ago he said that he meant to sail to Tahiti.  Well I knew that wasn't too
likely, and there's been no mention of it since.  Instead his future may involve a trip
to Japan with the girl, Marie, he's been raising-- if she finished high school.

Paul's sailboat is not an ocean going vessel, somewhat less.  For several years it was
stationed at Southport (at the mouth of the Cape Fear).  Last year he made the trip up
Pamlico Bay.  Coincidentally the Clayton family lived down there in the 18th century;
ggg grandfather, James Clayton, may have ordained by Francis Asbury, although he
never belonged to a conference.  He started churches in Craven Co, the Oxford area,
Butts Co. GA, then a couple of counties in Alabama.  Quite a pioneer. 

He lived to be 86.  I'm hoping to achieve that venerable age.  If so I will be the first
one in the line since James.  His son, James, moved to LA and lived (among other
places in the area that later became the town of Clayton.

Ah! Vanity!!  I focused on that stuff for several years right after we retired in 1988.

It will likely take a few weeks before you recover full strength, Joe.  3 months after my
open heart surgery we were back on the tennis court.  I was so grateful at what they
had down for me that I go to the hospital every Thursday to pray with the heart
patients.  I've made a lot of warm friendships that way.

Ellie has gone with Rob (our youngest) to the airport to meet his wife.  She has been
In San Luis Obispo trying to find a reasonable place for the to live next year.  Strange
that Mark taught at Cal Poly for a few years on his way to Stanford, and now Rob will
be counseling at the same place.  We remain amazed at what God has done with our

Blessing to you Joe and Ginny as well, and all of yours.  I can only say that after my
heart surgery I used to tell people that I feel better than I have in years.

But age is catching up on all of us.  This trip has been pretty rigorous, and I'll be
mighty glad to get home.  Home is the right place for such as we.

God bless all you and yours.
Joe R Petree wrote:
    I went out of town a couple weeks ago and had myself a heart attack
and double bypass surgery.  Are you still coming the way.  Would love to
see you.