Thursday, June 30, 2011

Port-au-Prince 10 day forecast - ow...

I'm not sure which I think is worse - the heat or the ongoing thunderstorms. As if there is a need for more rain right now after the recent flooding.  And all those people still with inadequate shelter.  Living in the mud for the next ten days (or more) is not going to be a good thing.  The cholera epidemic has already gotten worse as a result of the recent flooding.  I hope the "scattered" part of these thunderstorms means "very widely scattered." 

Later this year after I finally arrive there, I can see I won't be wanting to wear a slicker in the rain in these temps.  The question is whether or not I can go outside and play in the rain to cool down and still dry off in time for community prayer!  Something tells me that Sr. Marie Margaret would not look favorably on such a thing even if I were to have time to play.   Stay tuned this fall to find out!

Monday, June 27, 2011

goat stuff

one of Kim's goats
Bristol, TN
Yes, it's really a goat, not a sheep.
(She has sheep, too.)
 I just double checked with her.
family and goats and business, back home in Indiana - msn video

OK, full disclosure: Although I grew up in Indiana, my exposure to goats was limited mostly to petting zoos until I went to Haiti.  I did meet some goats up close and personal at the farm of a close friend and children's author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (great historical novels and a couple of science books! I should do a post on her at some point. Look her up here: 

Goats. They eat everything.  I saw one bite a mouthful out of a tourist's straw hat at the San Diego Zoo (note: never let it hang down your back on a string around your neck).  In Haiti they ate almost everything.  In the video above, there were several hysterically funny shots of the msn camera crew cornered by goats or trying to milk them - apparently this is true with Indiana goats as well.  The video is worth watching just for those, as a matter of fact.

a little goat (a kid, maybe?)
Darbonne, Leogane, Haiti
Goats are important in Haiti, too.  Goat meat is more nutritious than beef, I am told, and since they are less high maintenance than cows, it makes sense for a number of reasons to have them.  I had intended to write about the Goat Project in Darbonne in an earlier post, but only ended up doing so after the earthquake: update from Darbonne.  It's rather like the Heifer Project, for those of you familiar with that, but run out of Global Health Action in Atlanta:  I had the opportunity to attend one of their weekend courses on the care of goats while I was in Darbonne, and I was quite impressed with the program.  (I note here, from their instructions, that while goats will eat anything, it is not the best course of action to let them do so!) You are, of course, welcome to follow the link if you would care to donate.

I would love to see the goats in Haiti be a source of greater business, too, something more like that run by the family in Indiana spotlighted in the video.  I wonder how that might be brought to life.  I wonder if I should email this family.  Do any of you have goat connections?

goat milk soap from Indiana

Meanwhile, this family business is worth a look:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

doctor brings life to others through her own experience of mental illness

Expert on Mental Illness Reveals Her Own Struggle - NY Times

This is a fabulous article which includes a short video.  Worth a read both in thankfulness for the way God can bring about change and can use ALL of what we experience, no matter how awful, for good - and also worth a read if you want to understand more about the experience of mental illness, in this case the ongoing desire for self-harm and suicide due to borderline personality disorder.  She is an amazing woman, this doctor.  What courage she had - and what courage she still has to stand up and tell her story publicly. 

An excerpt:

Radical Acceptance

She sensed the power of another principle while praying in a small chapel in Chicago.

It was 1967, several years after she left the institute as a desperate 20-year-old whom doctors gave little chance of surviving outside the hospital. Survive she did, barely: there was at least one suicide attempt in Tulsa, when she first arrived home; and another episode after she moved to a Y.M.C.A. in Chicago to start over.

She was hospitalized again and emerged confused, lonely and more committed than ever to her Catholic faith. She moved into another Y, found a job as a clerk in an insurance company, started taking night classes at Loyola University — and prayed, often, at a chapel in the Cenacle Retreat Center.

“One night I was kneeling in there, looking up at the cross, and the whole place became gold — and suddenly I felt something coming toward me,” she said. “It was this shimmering experience, and I just ran back to my room and said, ‘I love myself.’ It was the first time I remember talking to myself in the first person. I felt transformed.”

The high lasted about a year, before the feelings of devastation returned in the wake of a romance that ended. But something was different. She could now weather her emotional storms without cutting or harming herself. "

She became a doctor herself, vowing to help other people out of that dark hole.

The article says, later on, "No therapist could promise a quick transformation or even sudden “insight,” much less a shimmering religious vision. But now Dr. Linehan was closing in on two seemingly opposed principles that could form the basis of a treatment: acceptance of life as it is, not as it is supposed to be; and the need to change, despite that reality and because of it. The only way to know for sure whether she had something more than a theory was to test it scientifically in the real world — and there was never any doubt where to start.

“I decided to get supersuicidal people, the very worst cases, because I figured these are the most miserable people in the world — they think they’re evil, that they’re bad, bad, bad — and I understood that they weren’t,” she said. “I understood their suffering because I’d been there, in hell, with no idea how to get out.”

She was the one who developed DBT - dialectical behavior therapy - which seems to be widely used today.  That's what I call bringing life from death.  Her issues were not completely over, but she was able to use them to bring about great good for great numbers of people. 

May God continue to bless her work - both her research and her one-on-one work with individuals suffering so much.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

visiting every parishioner

I found a bunch of posts from my time in Darbonne, Leogane, Haiti.  They are only half written, but I think I will post them as is.  Still something to be said here, even if incomplete.

Here is the first post, on the ongoing parish visits - original text below the asterisks, all one line of it (all photos were already pasted in).  I believe I started it 7/27/09 on a visit back to the convent for my sabbath day rest.  For this one, I'll add some current thoughts and recollections as well.

I remember these visits vividly - the walking and walking and walking, the prayer (and boy could they pray!), and the singing. Everyone seemed to have Psalm 23 memorized in French - a particular version, not the one from the Book of Common Prayer (French translation thereof, used in the Episcopal Church in Haiti). Must be like the King James translation of it here.  And, as is true here, there were hymns that everyone knew.  I had bought myself a hymnal and started to look them up and learn them, or at least mark the places in the book once I figured out which ones were likely to be sung.

The committee divided the parish visits up over the summer by areas of town.  It was quite an experience, and I am so glad to have been able to join them.  Each family got around a fifteen minute visit with intense prayer for them and their current needs, among other things.  I am sure it was and is an experience of bonding among the parishioners.  It would be good to try something like that up here in the US if we could figure out a way. 

* * *

In Darbonne, the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation's comite d'evangelisation, made up of quite a number of parishioners, goes around to visit each household for a short visit to pray for the family.

another reason I prefer to ride the T

 Even considering that Sister Suzy Q left the tank on empty....

make way for duck boats

Bruins Victory Parade Draws Biggest Hub Crowd Ever - Boston Sports News Story - WCVB Boston

There certainly is a lot going on in Boston today!  I hear the roads are jammed because of the celebration, but I can tell you the skies are pretty busy, too!  Prop planes are buzzing around with their banners streaming behind them, and helicopters dart here and there looking for news and probably making traffic reports as well.  I can see all that from our roof. 

helicopters and planes over Boston as we celebrate the Bruins' Stanley Cup victory
photo taken from St. Margaret's Convent, Roxbury, roofdeck
I gather the team is celebrating with a parade of duck boats, going from place to place as though it were a progressive dinner.  Good thing it ended up a beautiful day instead of the rain originally predicted.  I'm cheering from afar - and also hoping to stay afar... far from the traffic, at least, as I venture forth into the fray to get new glasses.  Rather mundane a way to celebrate, no? The better to watch the Bruins with, perhaps!  If I post again, you will know I survived the record crowds unscathed. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

a storyteller gone to glory

If there is storytelling in heaven, Sr. Bernardine is now entertaining the angels, archangels and all the company of heaven.  I expect Sr. Esther was right there to greet her - but she's already heard the stories, so perhaps she is alternating lines with Sr. Bernardine.  I used to love it when they would start telling stories about their novitiate.  I can't remember which one of them once climbed out a window to escape a sister waiting to corral her in the hall, but I can certainly picture them doing it as young women!  One of my favorite stories of hers was about being sent to get a bat out of the chapel.  She tossed a dustcloth over it - and it flew away under the dustcloth, looking for all the world like a mini ghost flitting about the chapel. 

Most of her stories, though, were about her family.  We all knew about Towser, her dog.  We knew about her wonderful stepmother and the nuns that took care of her in her last days.  We knew about her grandfather with polio, a judge with a real compassionate streak.  And her last and best and most-repeated story was about how she carried her baby brother home from the hospital after he was born. 

Well, it looks as though I will meet that famous baby brother sometime in the next few weeks. 

I'll miss laughing with Sr. Bernardine.  The last few years she hasn't recognized me, but we have always had lovely visits anyway.  Even once she started sleeping most of the time, she would wake up, say something to me, and laugh before she went back to sleep.  And so when I picked photos for the collage I made, the ones that spoke to me were mostly those where she is laughing, or looks as though she is about to do so.  Or maybe tell a bad pun (they were awful - she and my father could rival each other!)...

I wish I had more digital copies of the old photos from when she was young, but I love these, all but one of which come from my time with the sisters.  The other is from our camp - the place to which we will soon be moving, as a matter of fact, so perhaps it is appropriate after all.  Part of her will be there with us, I am sure.

She would have been 96 at the end of the month.  It's been a good life.  And I am so glad to have shared the last eleven years with her.

Sr. Bernardine, I love you.  See you again when the time comes!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

in case we need to remember this again...

God is Love
window detail
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Malden, MA
Know yourself to be surrounded with God's love and never forgotten.  Let that love fill you until it overflows into all you are and do and say.  That abundance is more than we could ever imagine, and it makes all the difference.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

fire in Joplin - weren't tornadoes enough?

"Heartbreaking" fire damages or destroys 16 Joplin businesses - KOAM TV 7 Joplin and Pittsburg

"Heartbreaking" fire damages or destroys 16 Joplin businesses -
 KOAM TV 7 Joplin and Pittsburg

Not fair, not fair, not fair.

"Posted June 14, 2011 at 12:22 PM CST: A complex of businesses located in the old Morton Booth building has been destroyed in a Tuesday morning fire.

It's a double whammy of disaster for Furniture Rescue which had just relocated to the Lesley business property at 4th and School streets after its prior space on Katherine Street was destroyed by the May 22 tornado.

A Safeway employee who just moved here from Kansas City was storing all his property in an office space after losing his home at the Chase Apartments to the tornado. Now it is all gone."

My mother used to tell me, "Life is not fair!" whenever I complained that something wasn't fair.  Well, it isn't. And I still don't like it, lo these decades later.  Like Haiti - hurricanes, earthquake, political upheaval, cholera - you  name it.  Enough already.  It is true that no one ever encouraged me to think that life was fair. And certainly I would be a lot less fortunate if it were! Still, my insides rebel.  I don't know if that makes me a five year old again, an idealist, a cynic, or just someone who wants everyone to have good things equally - including escape from tragedy.  Well, that's not the way it works.  I can't change it.  But I can change how I respond to it.  God help me to do so.

princess thrift

I have noticed with interest that the post receiving the most hits in the past weeks has been on being a princess.   At first I was confused, then I had the "aha!" moment:  Kate Middleton becoming Princess Catherine.  Of course!  I enjoyed the royal wedding as much as the next person.  I even put up a post about the royal tradition of jello: watch it wiggle.  Who knew?! 

Just now I was scanning the news online, and I noticed this video:
Regal Catherine shows off her thrifty side

Thrifty, I thought. What does that mean for a princess? 

I was astonished to discover it means she wore something twice in public.  Do princesses normally wear dresses only once?  How much time would you have to spend shopping? Oh, wait. They don't go shopping.  OK, worse - how much time would you have to spend standing around with a designer or dressmaker?

And people notice.  They noticed that she wore a dress she was photographed in four years ago. Four years!  And later one day they noticed she was wearing the same hat she had worn earlier in the day.  They called it "recycling" and "a clever move." 

I am still trying to wrap my mind around this.

I wonder if our fascination with royalty in this country has any relation to our inability to connect with the details of their lives.  Of course, all this may secretly indicate a desire to think of ourselves as clever when we wear the same clothes more than once...

Does a child imagining herself a princess think about the number of dresses in her fantasy closet? Maybe.  I know I certainly enjoyed designing princess dresses with my crayons when I was five.  Does it ever occur to such a child that she would never be able to have a favorite dress again? I don't think so.  

21st Century Princess

I wonder what it is like for Kate now.  Is she enjoying all that fuss?  Is dressing now a pain because she is watched so closely and has to have something new?  No wonder the two of them waited to get married. I cannot imagine anyone stepping into such a role easily.  I think she will have a much easier time of it than Princess Diana did because she is more prepared.  I also think the rest of the royal family has done some thinking over the years and will make room for her to be herself to a greater extent.  I do hope they will be happy together.

I just can't imagine a life where you would never have the opportunity to put on your old jeans and go out for an ice cream cone without anyone noticing or caring how you look. 

But then, while the name Sarah means Princess, I am not a princess. And for that I give great thanks.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Come Down, O Love Divine

Come down, O love divine
Seek Thou this soul of mine
And visit it with Thine own ardour glowing
O Comforter, draw near
Within my heart appear
And kindle it, Thy holy flame bestowing

O let it freely burn
Till earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes, in its heat consuming
And let Thy glorious light
Shine ever on my sight
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming

And so the yearning strong
With which the soul will long
Shall far outpass the power of human telling
For none can guess its grace
Till he become the place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes His dwelling

by Bianco da Siena, tr. Richard F. Littledale

The Hymnal 1982 #516
music: Down Ampney (Ralph Vaughan Williams)
Words public domain
recording on video by King's College Choir, Cambridge

Thursday, June 9, 2011

skies over Boston before and after the storm

view from the chapel window behind the altar

view from the vesting sacristy window
sunset view from the chapel window

Boston skyline from our roof

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

flooding in Tabarre, outside of Port-au-Prince

This video, via Le Nouvelliste, isn't all that useful in terms of news, but it certainly does give a good flavor of Haiti's traffic as you listen to the honking that goes along with it.

The first half of the video is relatively stationary - that is, it moves around, but is clearly shot by someone standing in the same spot.

About half way through the video there is a funny/sad moment when the camera pans in on a billboard reading "wash your hands with soap." As if people didn't know or could always afford soap... Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink. And not anything I'd want to wash my hands in, either, but not everyone has access to clean water of any sort.

The second half seems to be shot from the back of a motorcycle. I'd also forgotten just how many people ride on motorbikes of some sort, apparently even through flooded streets.

Don't watch this for eventful news, per se, but if you want to see what life is like right there, in the midst of all these awful rains, this gives a taste.

at least 23 killed in floods, mudslides in Haiti

photo via
 Another article...

At least 23 killed in floods, mudslides in Haiti

What is this?

Fire, hail, tornado, flood, mudslide... What a great few weeks. And the cholera in Haiti isn't getting any better, either.

When will it all stop?! As someone facetiously remarked on a friend's Facebook page, we should start looking out for frogs and locusts.

rains, floods and mudslides

 The BBC has taken notice now, I see.  They have a short article ( and this photo of people being evacuated.

They report 11 deaths, but a newer article has the total at 13.  I just found it via another Haiti blog:

I'll repost part of it here because this sort of link can go away so quickly sometimes:

Floods kill 13 as heavy rains pound Haiti

By Clarens Renois (AFP) – 2 hours ago
PORT-AU-PRINCE — Torrential rains lashed Haiti on Tuesday, flooding shanty towns, swamping the squalid camps erected after a 2010 earthquake and killing at least 13 people, officials said.
The worst rains to hit the impoverished country this year -- at the start of the hurricane season -- paralyzed the capital, where most of the deaths took place, Yolaine Surena of Haiti's civil protection agency told AFP.
Thunderstorms were pounding several north Caribbean islands early Tuesday, but there was little chance of the large low pressure area developing into a hurricane, according to the US-based National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Several days of rain had already swelled rivers, however, and the NHC warned that the rains "could cause flash floods and mudslides over portions of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Cuba."
Two people died in Haiti as waters rose in the downtown tent camp near the ruined presidential palace, two children were buried when their home collapsed and another six people died in the upscale Petionville district, Surena said.
A civil protection agency official, speaking on condition of anonymity, later confirmed that the toll had risen to 13, with two people killed in the Centre region and another in Nippes, west of the capital.
Newly elected President Michel Martelly headed to the city's poorest neighborhood, Cite Soleil, which officials said was completely swamped by the rainfall and where people sought higher ground on the roofs of their homes.
"I was in the streets during the rain, and I got home, put my boots on, and I'm back in the streets to assess the situation," Martelly said in remarks broadcast on national television.
"I'm now trying to help people and distribute some food. I hope people can find shelter," said Martelly, who handed out supplies with members of his new cabinet.
The rains brought the city to a standstill, with waters coursing through the streets and cars jammed up in long lines, some abandoned by their owners. The floodwater was reportedly four feet (1.2 meters) deep in some camps.
The rain let up during the day but the forecast called for another downpour overnight and into Wednesday, raising fears that mud slides could sweep away entire camps perched on the bare slopes around the capital and other cities."

torrential rains in the Port-au-Prince area

Last night I heard from a friend via Facebook that there was a bad storm going on which was causing flooding.   She said it was some of the worst rains and flooding some had seen. 

I found this weather forecast, but while it has a weather map of the Caribbean, there is no detail.

This afternoon, however, I saw that a blog I follow ( ) had some links to local news reports.  Thank you, Ruth!  Here is a basic summary from one article:


Bridge has collapsed in Peguyville, roads cut in Canape Verte, Delmas, Fontamara, Correfour and other places because of heavy rains, mud slides, and heavy rock falls. Many injured and dead. Traffic is paralyzed. Area excessively rain saturated. Many homes in danger of collapse, especially in Bidonvilles.

Many tent camps are flooded. Some washed away. People have drowned.

Many homes on Delmas 40 have washed away.

Entire country in a state of emergency as heavy rains of last week create a cumulative disaster on top of an accelerating threat of more cholera deaths.

This is the Coup de Grace.

Many people are buried under the debris. Martelly has addressed the Nation at 10:49PM.

Cite Solier inundated. Many walls have collapsed in Petionville, burying many people.

Panic, as people do not know what to do- There is no way to turn."

The original post may be found at

There is a much more complete article here:  The English is not great, but the information is much more detailed, so if you are familiar with the area, it may be useful.  I just wish I knew more about how the Sisters are and how Darbonne is today.

Meanwhile, there is some coverage which sounds much more official (Is it? I don't know...) here:  It says, "Haiti-Intempéries : Les fortes averses du 6 juin font au moins 10 morts... La météo ne prévoit pas d’amélioration du temps avant jeudi et le pays entier est sous alerte orange." In other words, at least ten have died so far, the weather is not going to be any better today, and the entire country is on a weather alert.

So please pray, especially for those, far too many, who still do not have adequate shelter.

put on your red dress, baby!

Go check out this video for Pentecost fashion tips!

Sunday, June 12, 2011 is Pentecost.  Fashionistas everywhere know what that means.  Put on your red dress, baby!

Of course, this makes me think of one of my favorite fun blogs, PeaceBang's Beauty Tips for Ministers.

Friday, June 3, 2011

great news from Bahrain

What wonderful news!

Please join me in giving thanks for Catherine Dawkins as she prepares to be ordained to the priesthood Sunday at St. Christopher's Cathedral in Bahrain by the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf. She had completed her seminary coursework in England before serving as a chaplain and working in a medical facility in Yemen. She and her husband, also a priest, will be based in Dubai.

Keep her in your prayers if you think of it. It is never easy to be one of the first, and ordination of women to the priesthood is still very controversial there. May God give her joy as she responds to that call!

You may read the full article from the Gulf Weekly ( here: