Tuesday, October 16, 2018

turn, turn, turn

To everything there is a season...

This time of year everything seems to be a liminal space, that sort of golden autumn in-between when there are still a few breaths of summer hanging on alongside reminders of winter to come.

Today was one of those days.

For supper we had little tomatoes from our garden, and Sister Claire Marie's frittata was made with our zucchini as well as the basil she grows in a pot on the windowsill. Summer tastes. I am amazed that the garden is still producing.

This morning I went down by the water to pray during my meditation time. It promised to be a lovely day, but in the pre-dawn chill I needed my down coat.

As the sun rose, the gulls woke up, discovering the jumping fish, the first I've seen in some time. They attracted the attention of nearby Double-crested Cormorants, and eventually even a couple of Great Blue Herons ventured into the zone of madly wheeling birds.  No Great Egret today, though... I haven't seen one in the past week, so the one that hangs about the cove may have gone south.

On the way back to the convent for the Eucharist, near one of our guesthouses, I spotted my first snowbirds - juncos returned for the winter. Signs of things to come.

So we wait and watch.

But also we take time just to be present. Here. Now. In this space. 

I am so thankful.

Peace be with you - with us all - with our world.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

too much

Hurricane Michael just came ashore as a category 4. 

The north of Haiti is dealing with the aftermath of another earthquake - not as bad as the last one - that would be very difficult - but whole areas flattened and everyone in tents. Including people dear to some of the sisters. (Our sisters are in Port-au-Prince and doing well.)



Nasty politics. #MeToo and #IBelieveHer. The stories break my heart. And I remember stories that have been told to me by women close to me.

Various friends and family members with serious illness or injury.

And I just found a priest from my youth who made a huge difference in my life on a list of accused abusers. 

I can't even.

Obviously I'm praying, as we all are. 

But why, oh why, oh why do we continue to hurt one another like this when life is already difficult?  Yeah. I know...

Just wishing I could do something more.  So many people in pain.

Pray with me, please, for them.

And so, along with the prayer (and especially the Eucharist), I am holding to the little things today.  Tiny spots of goodness like Sr. Claire Marie's lemon-(fresh-from-our-garden-)kale salad. A laugh with a sister. A walk before Evening Prayer (I hope). Looking forward to this weekend's family wedding and the deep contentment of spending time with them all. It won't fix the world, but it will help give me strength to get in there and continue the work set before me.  

Sunday, September 23, 2018

new favorite sport

I could easily imagine my youngest sister excelling in this sport along with her gymnastics had they had such a thing in the San Diego area (that we'd known about).  This is the World Cup.

Just... wow.

Rebekah, this one's for you.

And this is simply gorgeous. Tai Chi sword. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

St. Margaret's Day 2018

Friday at 11AM we're having our annual patronal festival. It's a bit late to be posting this, but I will anyway. If you'd like to join us, the chapel is at 30 Harden Hill Road, Duxbury MA. Our Associate the Rev. Dante Tavolaro will be preaching.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Great Paschal Vespers

Please join us:

Sunday, April 8 at 4:00 pm

Great Paschal Vespers is an ancient evening service of processions, prayers, chants, and hymns offering praise to God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

St. Margaret’s Chapel
30 Harden Hill Rd
Duxbury, MA 02332

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Yom HaShoah event open to the public

Congregation Shirat Hayam to Host Holocaust Survivor

In observance of Holocaust Memorial Day
Tuesday, April 10, at 7 p.m.

open to the entire public

CSH is honored to present Susan Kadar, a survivor of the Hungarian Nazi regime and the German occupation of Hungary. Ms. Kadar will share her experiences of those terrible years.  Only Susan and her mother survived the war. Eventually, they made their way to the United States where she went on to have a very productive and important career with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  

Congregation Shirat Hayam is located at 185 Plain St. (Rte. 139), Marshfield MA in the Sanctuary Church, 185 Plain Street (Rte. 139), Marshfield MA 02050 (about 0.9 miles west of Marshfield Center). For more information about CSH please go to www.shirathayam.net or call 781-582-2700.
Donations for the Boston Holocaust Memorial and the CSH Holocaust Education Fund will be gratefully accepted at the door.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

still on my mind... Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

Back in January - though it feels much more recent to me - a question was asked and a few remarks made that sparked international discussion. 

Here is one high-profile response:

In the midst of this, I read the lessons for the upcoming Sunday morning, on which I was scheduled to do supply (that is, preach and celebrate the Eucharist as a substitute for the regular priest) at a parish in the area. Apparently I am not the only one who wondered whether the president had read the lectionary in advance just to be sure he was speaking to the gospel reading at hand. 

It's still on my mind, now in Holy Week, during which we see that the Romans had a similar attitude towards the countries they were occupying and the citizens thereof. One need only consider that crucifixion was not a permitted form of death penalty for Roman citizens.  

Although I generally hesitate to share my sermons, I will share this one, as old as the topic may now be by general standards.  It's been pushed to the back burner because of more death in the news - too much death - but it seems to me that any form of attitude that makes someone "less than" is ultimately death dealing. Something to consider as Lent draws to a close, especially this week.

Epiphany 2B: What good can come out of Nazareth?
sermon for 1-14-18 

1 Samuel 3:1-10  (11-20) – call of Samuel
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 – glorify God with/in your body
John 1:43-51 – call of Philip, Nathanael under the fig tree
Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

It’s good to be back - to begin to get to know you and to feel comfortable here. I appreciate your welcome, and I look forward to talking with you at coffee hour following the service.

Meeting and getting to know each other can be both a delight and a challenge. Imagine for a moment that you’re being introduced to someone. In the United States, one of the first things people ask is “what do you do?” That has its issues – but that’s for another day. Another question we hear is “Where are you from?” Now, the question “Where are you from” has the potential to capture so much meaning, depending on how it is answered and explored. A resulting conversation could show so much of who we are in so very many directions. Such a question and response provides a window into the other person. Where we’re from is very personal. Think of the related expression, “She knows where I’m coming from.”. It’s a feeling of being understood.

But we don’t always go there. “Where are you from?” and other such introductory questions can give us the sense that we know all about someone when in fact we have very little idea. Hearing that someone is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, or from Manhattan could lead you to very different ideas – which could be far from accurate. But you know those New Yorkers… Yankees fans, the lot of them.

Too often we think we know where someone is from, box them in, and fit them into our schema of The Way Things Are, and that’s that. Even putting people in what we think are GOOD boxes can be problematic because then we aren’t seeing or hearing the actual person, but only what we expect.

Jesus had this problem. He might have been born in Bethlehem and been a toddler in Egypt, but he grew up in Nazareth in Galilee, a poor town in a poor region. On the night he was arrested, Peter was identified as one of his disciples by his accent alone.

Jesus got it from home, too. When he preached in his hometown synagogue, people got offended. As they put it,
“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ (Matthew 13:55-56)

Which is to say, “Who do you think you are?” We know where you’re from, so we know who you are, and we’ll judge you accordingly.

Now, really, generalizations are one of the ways the brain makes sense of vast quantities of information. It is when we regard them as hard and fast definitions that we run into trouble.  It’s when we decide we know enough about people to determine who they are – and we stop listening.

And that’s one of the issues we run into in today’s Gospel.

Listen again:
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
Does that sound… eerily familiar to anyone this morning?
Apparently derogatory remarks about poverty-stricken areas and the people who come from them are nothing new. Hearing it from the White House, now, that’s something else again. Worse than the profanity, to me, was the press secretary’s follow-up, which reminds me of Nathanael’s initial attitude. He spoke of (and I quote) “permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.” Which, as the New Yorker pointed out, suggested “that immigrants from places like El Salvador, Haiti, Liberia, and Sierra Leone couldn’t become productive and assimilated American citizens,” which is more than a little racist.[i]

Can anything good come from Nazareth?

In the Jesuit America Magazine, Fr James Martin explains, “Nazareth was a minuscule town of 200 to 400 people, where people lived in small stone houses, and, archaeologists say, where garbage, and excrement, was dumped in the alleyways…in other words, came from a …….. place [such as that][ii]  Elsewhere in the magazine I read, “Crumbling infrastructure, inadequate health care and crippling poverty do not make a life any less valuable.”[iii] True in Jesus’ time. True now. Pragmatically speaking, these things also do not make people less likely to work hard and contribute.

All this turmoil, mind you, was happening on the day before the anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. Furthermore, Martin Luther King Day is tomorrow. And if nothing else, the events of this past year show you that racism is still one of the biggest problems we have in this country, and we don’t seem to want to deal with it.

But we don’t need to be racist to consider this issue. Can anything good come out of Nazareth/Haiti/Africa/the Midwest/the South/California//the Middle East …. the other political party? It’s not always demonization. It can even feel perfectly affable. We just KNOW who that person is. So we don’t listen. We can’t see. We don’t try because our minds are made up.

But sometimes we know we have limited vision, and we’re more like Nathanael. “Come and see,” said Philip. And Nathanael did. With a mind sufficiently open to change. What he thought he knew was wrong and he, being without guile/deceit, didn’t hesitate to say so. And thoroughly! “Rabbi, you are the Son of God!” he exclaimed. “You are the King of Israel!”

I want you to notice something here.  What made him change his mind is that HE had been seen and known and understood when he hadn’t even noticed Jesus nearby.
“When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Being seen and known and understood can be life-changing.

Jesus may even have heard his remark about Nazareth – but it didn’t matter. He didn’t dismiss Nathanael as an ignorant so-and-so. He didn’t even wait to be introduced. And this is wonderful.

God doesn’t wait to be noticed. YHWH comes to Samuel before Samuel knows him. In Psalm 139, the poet sings, “You have searched me out and known me… when I was still in my mother’s womb…”
 God knows us already – understands us – calls us by name.

The good news is that we, too, are capable of responding to the invitation to come and see. We can also extend the invitation like Philip. We can work to see, hear, and understand others without waiting for them to do the same, refusing to dismiss people as incorrigible. God did it for us, being born among seemingly incorrigible humanity and in a poor, hick town to boot. We can work for those who are constantly facing this kind of dismissal – or worse – on a day to day basis.

And we, like Samuel, can learn to pray, over and over, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

“Where are you from?” we ask.
It’s still a good question. Just depends on what we do with it.

[i] John Cassidy, “A Racist in the Oval Office,” The New Yorker, January 12, 2018   https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/trump-shithole-comment-racist-in-the-oval-office
[ii] James Martin SJ, “Father James Martin: Why we should welcome people from countries Trump just insulted,” America Magazine, https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2018/01/12/father-james-martin-why-we-should-welcome-people-countries-trump-just