Monday, December 30, 2013

First Cry

Jesus' guardian angel.  From the Rev. Kimberly Bohan's series, found at and reposted with permission.

* * * * *

Zadkiel stood shaking, with his wings covering his face.
Michael came to him.  They were not easy companions, these two, but Michael could feel Zadkiel’s terror, and knew he must stand guard.
‘What’s wrong? Why are you afraid?’
‘He wasn’t supposed to see me.  He wasn’t supposed to know.’
Is that all? Michael wondered, a glance from Jesus, and he’s overcome?
Oh God — why did you choose this angel?
Michael tried to reassure him. ‘He may not have, you know — they don’t see much at first.’
But both Michael and Zadkiel knew there was no truth in it.  There had been a moment, just after first cry, when Jesus looked at Mary, then at Joseph, and finally at Zadkiel, who shimmered bright gold — and who remembered to hide himself just as Jesus reached out for him.
‘But he saw me.  I felt it.  The air broke with his cry and I wanted to laugh, but then– when I looked at him…
‘You know what it’s like when God is at play — when he comes to you and chats and dreams and spins out Creation’s plan?  You know how it is when Sophia teases, and God jokes, and they draw you in and you laugh and dance, and just for a moment you forget they are God?  And then suddenly you feel your heart expand, love for them surging — and you must stop it, quickly, before they notice and you make a mess of everything?’
Michael watched his companion closely. Did he know?  What this how he experienced God? Maybe.  Sometimes — but he usually saw a different side of God. He nodded for Zadkiel to go on.
‘I have always been afraid of that moment — afraid that if I gave myself to it, and they realised…’   Zadkiel fell silent and tucked down his head.
‘Then?’ Michael prompted.
Zadkiel shivered.  ’Then it would be too much.  If the love were let loose, if they saw it, it would overwhelm me.  Everything would change.’
This Michael understood. The moment of change. So he waited…
Zadkiel uncurled himself and looked at Michael — could he really be saying this? to Michael of all angels? But they both knew what had happened, and there was no point in denying it now.
‘When Jesus looked at me, I forgot to hide.  All the love I’ve ever felt, I’ve ever avoided feeling, filled the space between us as the air turned gold.’
‘And everything changed?’
‘And everything changed.’
Michael thought of the vast complexity of God — the mind that set the universe spinning, the imagination that gave beauty and light, the love that shimmered bright on the air.  And yet it all came down to this: God in a manger, a new born child.  Michael marvelled at the daring of it: God come as a child who could not be ignored, from whom no one would think to hide.

source and ending

Blessings to you all on this sixth day of Christmas.  May the year to come be bright.

Photo co-posted at

Monday, December 23, 2013

O come, Emmanuel

O Emmanuel…

God with us.

What we long for and need so badly.

And yet could anything be more shocking than the Incarnation?  The One  through whom all things were made suddenly needing to squall to be fed and changed?

We can tame this into a painting, lovely and safe, but there was nothing of safety about it then.  Nor is there now.   Do we dare consider playing with fire?  Once lit, there is no going back.  Not for the universe, not for us.  Like it or not, everything is different now: wild and purposeful, a flame appearing suddenly in that place where our eyes had been accustomed to darkness.  Will we look away or risk being set ablaze?

And when we say yes as Mary did so long ago, as we say yes as God did to us – does to us! – where will we be led?  In what stable will Christ become incarnate in our lives today? 

goat manger, Darbonne, Haiti

O come, o come, Emmanuel… Be born in us today.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

O Radix Jesse

O Root of Jesse, you stand for an ensign of the people; before you kings will shut their mouths and for you the Gentiles will seek: come and deliver us, and do not tarry. 

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare. 

There is a flower sprung of a tree,
The root thereof is called Jesse,
A flower of price;
There is none such in paradise.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

come, hidden Wisdom

I cannot think unless I have been thought,
Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken.
I cannot teach except as I am taught,
Or break the bread except as I am broken.
O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,
O Light within the light by which I see,
O Word beneath the words with which I speak,
O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me,
O sounding Song whose depth is sounding me,
O Memory of time, reminding me,
My Ground of Being, always grounding me,
My Maker’s Bounding Line, defining me,
Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring,
Come to me now, disguised as everything.

-- Malcolm Guite
Cambridge, England

I found them originally at

O Antiphons: O Sapientia - O Wisdom

O Sapientia

O Wisdom, 

coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,

reaching from one end to the other mightily,

and sweetly ordering all things:

Come and teach us the way of prudence.

Monday, December 16, 2013

angels we have made in the snow

I love snow angels.

I love making snow angels.

I hear I'll have the chance after tomorrow's snow, too.

Here's one from a retreat a few years ago:

snow angel, long retreat in Duxbury, MA

But the one that is brightening my evening is from The New Yorker. Perhaps you've seen it, but in case you haven't, I'm sharing.

Pope Francis making a snow angel
New Yorker cover, December 23 & 30, 2013

Thank you to the Huffington Post for posting it, along with the following:

Much has been written about Pope Francis' humble personality, but the image of him on the cover of this week's New Yorker perfectly captures the Pontiff's joyful nature...
The pope's recent apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium raised eyebrows with its condemnation of capitalist culture which promotes an "idolatry of money," but the document as a whole is about the exultation to be found in God. Evangelii Gaudium literally means "The Joy of the Gospel," and the first line says, "The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus."
What could be more appropriate in this season of Advent?

Joy to the world, and to you all, too, as we await the coming of the Savior.  Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

snowy grey beauty

A dark, snowy afternoon has its own beauty...

 the end of Harden Hill Road looking onto Duxbury Bay

snowy rowboat, snowy cove
dock and sea grass through falling snow

low tide with snow on the sea grass shelf

snow on holly bush

trees outlined in snow against the greys of Duxbury Bay and sky

The geese have headed out!

goose tracks in the snow

...and its own birds.

chilly, puffed out sparrow in falling snow

Canadian geese on the frozen mud flats, low tide Duxbury Bay

Canadian geese taking off

Canadian geese in flight

Canadian geese flying, long line

two sparrows and a junco, Bonnie Cabin steps

bluebird, snowy branches
Little advents of God are all around us.

Monday, December 9, 2013

an Advent prayer

Advent II at SSM Duxbury


 Keep us, O Lord, while we tarry on this earth, in a daily serious seeking after thee, and in a believing affectionate walking with thee; that, when thou comest, we may be found not hiding our talent, nor serving our flesh, nor yet asleep with our lamp unfurnished, but longing and waiting for our glorious God for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Emptiness - Advent

What if the emptiness were one of
expectancy? Of hope and anticipation?
Of leaving room to be filled?
Not all emptiness is the same.
Wide open places of the heart
Bleak spaces, cold and desolate
Space for innumerable stars to shine in the night
Space between buildings in a blizzard
A crib, empty, waiting for an expected child
A crib, empty, after the slaughter of innocents
Which is this emptiness?
May I choose?
I do choose emptiness, after all.
An emptiness of the night sky just before
     the stars appear
An emptiness like the inside of a flute
     – the reed of God, Caryll calls Mary –
     so too for me?
I will leave room.
I will wait.
The filling is not up to me.
It will come.
The night ahead catches its breath
then settles into a peaceful longing
which is in itself part of the hoped-for,
long-anticipated gift.

sarahssm | December 3

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Te Lucis Ante Terminum

A setting of one of the traditional Compline hymns for you tonight:

If you would like to sing it as part of your own worship, here is one of the English translations and the music:

To thee before the close of day,
Creator of the world, we pray
That, with thy wonted favor, thou
Wouldst be our guard and keeper now.

From all ill dreams defend our sight,
From fears and terrors of the night;
Withhold from us our ghostly foe,
That spot of sin we may not know.

O Father, that we ask be done,
Through Jesus Christ, thine only Son,
Who, with the Holy Ghost and thee,
Doth live and reign eternally. Amen.

Thanks to chantblog for this. To read more:

For a more modern translation of this Compline hymn, see The Hymnal 1982 (The Episcopal Church). For the music that accompanies this modern translation:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You Speak

Published on Aug 28, 2013



You liberate me from my own noise and my own chaos
From the chains of a lesser law You set me free
You liberate me from my own noise and my own chaos
From the chains of a lesser law You set me free

In the silence of the heart You speak
In the silence of the heart You speak
and it is there that I will know You
and You will know me
in the silence of the heart
You speak, You speak

You satisfy me till i am quiet and confident
in the work of the Spirit I cannot see.
You satisfy me till I am quiet and confident
in the work of the Spirit I cannot see.

In the silence of the heart You speak.

© 2013 Audrey Assad Inc (BMI)
  • Category

  • License

    Standard YouTube License

Monday, November 25, 2013

so excited!

Mom is moving home tomorrow!!!  It's been a little over 5 months since her encounter with the semi on I-69.  That's a long time.  Hard to believe it's really been that long, actually. I recounted on my fingers to make sure my head wasn't playing tricks on me.  Twice.

This long-awaited move is going to be a major change for everyone in so many ways. They were in the process of moving when this happened. A couple of weeks ago, Mom finally saw the place Dad chose.  She says she likes it.  Hard to tell; she has a brain injury from which she is inching back, so her reactions aren't quite the same as they were.  But I do know everyone is happy. I think my father is counting the minutes.  She is, too, I think, though there's also the sense that she'll believe it when she sees it, so to speak.  

She'll still require 24/7 care, at least for now.  Another change for the family.  No idea what's down the road.  But the wheelchair lift is going in, the bathroom door frame is being widened, and the stairway has a new railing with a gate so no one goes tumbling down it.  I haven't seen any photos yet (ahem, siblings mine...), but the almost-completed work is adding to the sense of anticipation, at least for me as I imagine the scene via conversations.  Thank God for telephone and internet.

This is one Thanksgiving on which everyone will truly be thankful.  And then some.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

waken the dawn

Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God, *
and your glory over all the earth.
 My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; *
I will sing and make melody.
 Wake up, my spirit; awake, lute and harp; *
I myself will waken the dawn.

 I will confess you among the peoples, O Lord; *
I will sing praise to you among the nations.
 For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens, *
and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
 Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God, *
and your glory over all the earth.

 - Psalm 57:6-11 (Book of Common Prayer 1979)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

whose wife?

Sermonating again... And very, very slowly.

 It's all about trick questions. Except it isn't; it's about resurrection.

There's a reason I laughed at this cartoon, which came from United Methodist Memes via Episcopal Memes.  If you aren't on Facebook, it won't make much sense, but suffice to say there is a riddle with many details, the purpose of which is to make you change your profile picture to a giraffe when you get it wrong.  The answer to the specific question isn't really the point of asking it.  Just like tomorrow's gospel passage.

Luke 20:27-38 - Proper 27C

Wish me luck.

Or better yet, send up a prayer.

I don't want to have to wear a giraffe face with my habit when I go to an unfamiliar church to preach tomorrow.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan-Yolanda

Looks as though we have a major situation that calls for prayer.  This storm will be worse than Sandy. It's going by two different names, Haiyan and Yolanda, and I hope it won't cause two times the damage.

Here is some of what CNN has to say:  Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of strongest storms ever, heads for central Philippines
By Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 12:32 PM EST, Thu November 7, 2013
(CNN) -- Thousands of people in vulnerable areas of the Philippines are being relocated as the strongest storm on the planet so far this year spins toward the country. 

With sustained winds of 305 kph (190 mph) and gusts as strong as 370 kph (230 mph), Super Typhoon Haiyan was churning across the Western Pacific toward the central Philippines as one of the most intense tropical cyclones ever recorded.

Its wind strength makes it equivalent to an exceptionally strong Category 5 hurricane.The storm, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, is expected to still be a super typhoon, with winds in excess of 240 kph (149 mph), when it makes landfall Friday morning in the region of Eastern Visayas. The storm is so large in diameter that clouds from it are affecting two-thirds of the country.

Philippines braces for super typhoon

Authorities in the region had moved more than 3,800 people to evacuation centers by late Thursday, Maj. Reynaldo Balido of the Philippine Office of Civil Defense said.

What's more, there were hundreds of thousands displaced in one region by an earthquake last year - and we know what that looks like.  If this sort of storm were to hit Haiti, I don't know how many decades it would take to recover.  Fortunately, most of those people are no longer homeless; not that this is much comfort for those who are still in tents.

About this, the BBC says,
In its path are areas already struggling to recover from a 7.3-magnitude earthquake last month, including the worst-hit island of Bohol.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said in a website update that the storm was likely to create "rough to very rough seas".
About 5,000 people are still living in tents in Bohol after losing their homes in the quake, which killed more than 200 people.

Keep all in the path of the storm in your prayers, please, as well as for those working to evacuate and prepare in advance.

Jesus, you are our anchor in the storm and our shelter from the wind.

Lord Jesus, you who walked on the waters and calmed the stormy weather, calm these winds now and steady our brothers and sisters as they prepare.  Give wisdom to those making decisions, move people to safety, protect those in its path, strengthen those working to assist others, and throughout this time give them peace and a sense of your presence.  All this we ask in your dear name.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

All Saints Evensong, Sunday, November 3

Please join us for an Evensong For All Saints tomorrow 

Sunday, November 3, 2013
St Margaret's Chapel
50 Harden Hill Rd 
Duxbury, MA

"Lord Christ, your saints have been the lights of the world in every generation: Grant that we who follow in their footsteps may be made worthy to enter with them into that heavenly country where you live and reign for ever and ever. Amen."

Saturday, October 26, 2013

O Quam Gloriosum est Regnum - Victoria

Guess what I'm learning?!  As one of my sisters just said, "This feeds my soul."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Young Haitian Doctors Begin Medical Residencies at University Hospital

Via the Partners in Health website, some very good news:

Young Haitian Doctors Begin Medical Residencies at University Hospital

Excerpts from the article:

This month, University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti, took a significant step toward becoming the teaching hospital envisioned after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, which devastated the country’s already-fragile medical infrastructure. On Oct. 1, the hospital’s first medical residents—all young Haitian doctors—began hands-on training in pediatrics, general surgery, and internal medicine.
Partners in Health's fourteen new medical residents at the University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
The application process was intensive and merit-based: 238 people applied and took an entrance exam. Of those, 45 were interviewed, and 14 were selected. Class members hail from all over Haiti. Some studied at Haiti’s state medical school or private schools in Port-au-Prince; others went to the Dominican Republic. Some just graduated from medical school and completed their social service year; others have been practicing for a few years. By coincidence, the class is evenly split between men and women.
"The residency program at University Hospital represents the most serious attempt, to my knowledge and during my lifetime, to systematically create a critical mass of Haitian physician specialists that will have the opportunity to be fully useful to all Haitians," said Dr. Pierre Paul, PIH senior advisor. He added that he and his physician colleagues have traditionally questioned the poor outcomes of Haiti's health sector, but now feel questioned themselves about their responsibility to improve health care in Haiti. "University Hospital and its new residency program stand as formidable evidence of the efforts that young Haitian health professionals are making to restore, in a sustainable way, hope and dignity in the future of health in Haiti."
In Haiti, one reason for needless sickness and death is the lack of trained professionals to provide health care. There are only 25 physicians per 100,000 Haitians. The United States has more than tenfold that number: 280 doctors for every 100,000 Americans.
In Haiti, half of doctors are generalists who have completed medical school and a social service year but no specialty training. Each year, about  450  graduating doctors compete for only about 150 residency positions.
Did you read that? 25 doctors per 100,000 Haitians.  
Part of the problem is brain drain.  Doctors aren't as well paid as one might expect, working conditions in hospitals are atrocious, and equipment can be scarce.  Furthermore, it's my understanding from conversations over the past couple of years that since the earthquake it's become even more difficult because many go to Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), where they can get free care. Hardly a surprise.  However, that doesn't help local doctors earn a living. What a conundrum.
Here's what the article has to say about that:
The lack of opportunities leads many young Haitian doctors to seek training and employment in other countries, causing a brain drain in the health workforce. A staggering 80 percent of all physicians trained in Haiti leave within five years of graduation to practice abroad. Of the doctors who stay in Haiti, most practice in Port-au-Prince, which makes it difficult for rural people to access care. The medical education programs at University Hospital aim to slow or even reverse that double brain drain—from rural to Port-au-Prince or abroad—by encouraging talented young doctors to train in Haiti and stay there to practice medicine.
These new opportunities may make a difference.  Perhaps you could offer your prayers for these students, their teachers, the program, and the health care situation in Haiti.
Welcome to Mirebalais
The hospital itself has been newsworthy for a long time.

Here is the link to the information and video I shared with much excitement last year when the hospital was first going up:  
This article is from this summer: 

New hospital in Haiti proves that aid done right can change lives

Partners In Health, along with its sister organization, Zanmi Lasante, works to improve the quality of care in the public health system, collaborating with Haitian communities and the government to train health care workers, develop new services and improve rundown facilities, including building top-quality infrastructure.
In the case of University Hospital, the Haitian government identified the need for a national teaching hospital after the earthquake, and Partners In Health/Zamni Lasante worked alongside the Haitian Ministry of Health to design and construct the $17 million facility, with the help of many in-kind donations. Through a public-private partnership, the government and Partners In Health/Zamni Lasante will contribute to operating costs, and management of the hospital will gradually transition to the government over the next 10 years.
Partners In Health builds open-ended partnerships that don't end when the earthquake donations dry up, offering a greater chance at slow, lasting progress on entrenched problems of poverty and inequality. We call this "accompaniment," to convey a shared journey.
Developing partnerships based on empathy and pragmatic solidarity — not pity or even sympathy — is the essential first step in serving people in need.
Oh, and by the way, they give some interesting details on all that aid money that people wonder about:
It seemed like so much money went to Haiti after the earthquake, but less than 1 percent of the $2.4 billion in immediate earthquake relief went directly to the government of Haiti.
In the longer-term recovery effort, the U.S. development agency USAID spent $1.15 billion, more than half going to American firms in the D.C. area and less than 1 percent to Haitian firms and nonprofits, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Haitians weren't in charge of the projects, but they shoulder the blame for failures. 
Just saying.
But here is something different.  Maybe it will change this story line. It's good to know that something is going right, and more than right. 

Thanks be to God.  

Archbishop Justin Welby on Prince George's christening

baptism water

In a short video released today, the Archbishop of Canterbury speaks on baptism on the occasion of the upcoming baptism of Prince George, Will and Kate's baby.

Kate, Will, baby George
 I love the picture of Will enjoying holding his son.

Some of my favorite lines:

"The great good news is that God doesn't care who we are."

"God's love is offered without qualification, without price, without cost, to all people, in all circumstances, always."

And I love the words he quotes at the end from the Church of Scotland's baptismal liturgy for children.

God's grace is given before we can respond.
For you Jesus Christ came into the world:
for you he lived and showed God's love;
for you he suffered the darkness of Calvary
and cried at the last, 'It is accomplished';
for you he triumphed over death 
and rose in newness of life;
for you he ascended to reign at God's right hand.
All this he did for you,
though you do not know it yet.
And so the word of Scripture is fulfilled:
"We love because God loved us first."

This form of these words comes from the Church of Scotland. 

If  you'd like to read an article on the video, here's one:

The BBC is also covering it:
"The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he hopes the "extraordinary" baptism of Prince George will inspire others to seek the same ceremony."   

Now, for those of you in the know, please enlighten me.  Is there or is there not a difference between baptism and christening?  I had heard they were not interchangeable, but here they seem to be used as synonyms. Anyone?  Is the UK usage different from that of the US (not that I've really heard it used on this side of the pond)?