Thursday, February 27, 2014

George Herbert - King of glory, King of peace

I'm giving thanks for priest and poet George Herbert tonight and praising God in his words.  We sang a hymn at Evening Prayer tonight the text of which is a poem of his (music video and text below).  I remember reading his poetry along with John Donne's in a seminary course, Classical Anglican Theologians.

Not that he intended to be a classical Anglican theologian or a metaphysical poet.  He wrote a book for priests on parish ministry, and his poetry was only published after his death because he sent them to a friend to look over in case it should encourage others.  Mostly he was a parish priest, and a caring, compassionate one.  I'd like to be like that - actually, we could all stand to be a bit more like him, I suspect.  Here's a good description (and the most recent source for the information above, since I didn't trust my memory for it):

He served faithfully as a parish priest, diligently visiting his parishioners and bringing them the sacraments when they were ill, and food and clothing when they were in want. He read Morning and Evening Prayer daily in the church, encouraging the congregation to join him when possible, and ringing the church bell before each service so that those who could not come might hear it and pause in their work to join their prayers with his. He used to go once a week to Salisbury to hear Evening Prayer sung there in the cathedral. On one occasion he was late because he had met a man whose horse had fallen with a heavy load, and he stopped, took off his coat, and helped the man to unload the cart, get the horse back on its feet, and then reload the cart. His spontaneous generosity and good will won him the affection of his parishioners.

Here is more:

Herbert spent the rest of his life as rector in Bemerton near Salisbury. While there, he preached, wrote poetry, and helped rebuild the church out of his own funds.

Herbert's practical manual to country parsons, A Priest to the Temple (1652), exhibits the intelligent devotion he showed to his parishoners. On his deathbed, he sent the manuscript of The Temple to his close friend, Nicholas Ferrar, asking him to publish the poems only if he thought they might do good to "any dejected poor soul." He died of consumption in 1633 at the age of forty and the book was published in the same year. The Temple met with enormous popular acclaim—it had been reprinted twenty times by 1680.

Herbert's poems have been characterized by a deep religious devotion, linguistic precision, metrical agility, and ingenious use of conceit. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote of Herbert's diction that "Nothing can be more pure, manly, or unaffected," and he is ranked with Donne as one of the great Metaphysical poets.
- See more at:

Collect for George Herbert:

Our God and King, you called your servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honors to be a pastor of souls, a poet, and a priest in your temple: Give us grace, we pray, joyfully to perform the tasks you give us to do knowing that nothing is menial or common that is done for your sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

King of glory, King of peace,
I will love thee;
and that love may never cease,
I will move thee.
Thou hast granted my request,
thou hast heard me;
thou didst note my working breast,
thou hast spared me.
Wherefore with my utmost art
I will sing thee;
and the cream of all my heart,
I will bring thee.
Though my sins against me cried,
thou didst clear me;
and alone, when they replied,
thou didst hear me.
Seven whole days, not one in seven,
I will praise thee;
in my heart, though not in heaven,
I can raise thee.
Small it is, in this poor sort
to enroll thee;
e'en eternity's too short
to extol thee.

You can listen to more of his poetry here:

Here are links to the online texts of his work:
...and to the lessons and prayer to remember him today:


Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Breathtaking sunrise today.

Reminders of God everywhere.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Toto, I don't think we're in Port-au-Prince anymore...

It was cool in Port-au-Prince today - only 86. Sigh.

...and it begins...

Yes, it's pretty. Very pretty. But this is a lot of pretty.

14"-18" predicted here

My little flashlight is in my pocket in case the power goes out, which I gather it might.  Shades of Haiti, but a whole lot colder.  That's the thing - at least in Haiti you can't freeze to death in short order. Not that we'll do so at the convent - we have enough generator power to keep the main convent at around 50F, or so I hear. They lost power for a few days in last year's storms.  (Does that mean we can say we've already checked that box, so we don't need to do it again?)

Well, we'll see what happens.

Meanwhile, I'm grateful to live someplace that not only has that generator power, but also isn't drafty. Or leaky.  And has one outlet in the refectory that will work on generator power, to which one can attach the coffeemaker. This I discovered on my own earlier this winter during a mercifully brief power outage. This is what you call spoiled.

Remind me of this tomorrow if I'm shivering under my covers early in the morning with no heat in my room. I may forget.

Even the birds look chilly in the snow. Beautiful, though.

Most people don't have generators. Some people have nowhere to live to begin with.  What are they doing?  Duxbury, thanks be to God, has warming centers they open, so if people can get there - and that's another issue - they will be warm and probably fed, too.

Well, let's light a candle rather than cursing the darkness.  And then enjoy it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

From Olympic Speed Skater to Franciscan Sister?

While on the lookout for something else this morning, I ran into this video. I always find the vocation stories of other sisters interesting - no surprise there - and it seemed appropriate to post it during the winter Olympics.

You all have heard about Roman Catholic Franciscans, I'm sure, as in this video - or at least you've heard of St. Francis.  But did you know there are also Anglican/Episcopal Franciscans?  They, too, stress their vow of poverty and social justice work; though I have never heard them use the Bride of Christ metaphor, I'm sure there are similarities in spirituality in other aspects among all the Franciscan orders.

Here's a photo I got from one of their online newsletters:

Episcopal Franciscan Sisters (from a 2011 newsletter)

Anglican/Episcopal Franciscan Women: (US house)

There are also contemplative Franciscan women in England:

Anglican/Episcopal Franciscan Men:
Society of St. Francis, Province of the Americas:
The Society of St. Francis is a world-wide Franciscan community within the Anglican Communion. The Province of the Americas is part of the Episcopal Church.

Third Order Franciscans - Episcopal men and women who follow in the spirit of St. Francis in their secular lives:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"Angels and Saints at Ephesus" by The Benedictines of Mary

This afternoon I listened to a short report from NPR on the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, and their music.

Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles. - photo via NPR

Here is a bit of the accompanying article:

When the sisters of Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles aren't hard at work on the monastery grounds, they're topping the charts with albums of sacred music. The group's Angels and Saints at Ephesus topped the Billboard classical charts, and now it's releasing its latest,Lent at Ephesus. Mother Cecilia, prioress of the abbey in rural Missouri and the group's arranger, tells NPR's Renee Montagne, "We're not fabricating anything; this is just music we're pulling from our life, our everyday life."

What beautiful music they make!  I really enjoyed the video on the community (below).

NPR mentioned that they've just released an album for Lent, and I'd certainly love to hear it, so of course I went looking.

Lent at Ephesus album cover via Amazon

love this photo - must be during a recording session, as I believe that's the producer on the left

Now, here at our convent, things are a bit different from their life.  We have the Great Silence from 9PM till 8:30AM, but we aren't in silence all day. No cows here, either. Most of us at SSM wear street clothes most of the time (we have a choir habit for chapel that goes over them), and only a few wear veils, but we, too, pray the daily office and enjoy chant.  There is just enough similarity for me to see in the life of these nuns things I love about our life here. I hope you too will enjoy watching the video.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

ornithological happy dance

Started my walk this afternoon out on the road in front of our house.  It was a grey day, but I could hear lots of birds in our neighbors' yard.  Would they come out to see their paparazzi?  A few obliged, but only at treetop level.  I took a few photos and hoped for the best; one of them turned out to be a bird I don't know, so that was a delight later on.  I think it's a warbler of some sort; I'll have to check one of our bird books later on.  

I haven't seen this bird before. A warbler? Anyone know? Fun to see something new!

Continued by meandering down to the water.  Didn't see anything too unusual, though I don't usually see robins down by the water's edge.  

out of season?  robins on the intertidal mud flats

Of course, I enjoyed the geese and ducks.  We've been having a lot of bufflehead ducks recently - maybe I'll do a post with some of my pictures later - but none today. Well, one, but very far out. Other ducks, whose name I haven't yet learned, plus Canadian geese and gulls.  Still pretty standard. I got closer than usual; they mostly seemed to be sleeping. Not a bad idea.

three active ducks and a whole lot of sleeping geese

This duck is practically crawling under the sleeping goose to get at something he wants. And is that middle goose sleeping on one leg?!

I finally decided to see if I could move quietly across the yard without disturbing them. They usually move right off the minute they see someone coming, even far off.  Not today, for some reason.  So as I'm moving slowly, trying not to crunch through the snow too loudly (or mind the snow now falling into my shoes), I look up. What is that in the tree?  Not a squirrel nest. But it's large.  Pull out the camera with the telephoto, adjust... OH.  MY.  GOODNESS.  Blink a few times. Check again. It's still an eagle.  

An eagle! In our yard! Unbelievable. He was just hanging out in a tree down by the water.

looking around, but not hunting

Actually, he must have already eaten. We had sitting ducks - literally - and sleeping geese, not to mention gulls and small birds. Nope.

Look how he flattens out his head feathers just before flying off.

Take-off! If you could have seen the span of those wings...

What a gift.  What an incredible gift. Thank you, Lord.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Anglican Prayer Bead workshop

Anglican Prayer Bead Workshop
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Donation: $40 (scholarship aid available)

Join us on Saturday, February 22, from 9AM-3PM at the Convent (50 Harden Hill Rd, Duxbury, MA) to make and pray with your own set of prayer beads. During our time together, we will each make our own Anglican Rosary, create a small individualized booklet of prayers, and spend some quiet time praying with our new prayer beads. Workshop donation covers findings, fishing line, beads, cross, and lunch as well as the workshop itself. Participants may bring favorite beads or a cross from old jewelry to incorporate if so desired. Please contact Sr. Sarah at 781-934-9477 x703 or email her at to register or with questions.

Please register as soon as possible so that we may order sufficient materials.

To register via Facebook events: