Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Blizzard 2015

Greetings from Cambridge! I'm up here staying with the SSJE brothers at the monastery for a seminar this week, so I have not been home to see what a blizzard looks like in Duxbury.  I gather from Twitter that 28% of Duxbury lost power, and I saw that the Sisters got power back - not that I know what time they lost it originally.

 It wasn't unexpected - for some reason we seem to lose power in Duxbury fairly easily.  Comparatively speaking, that is.  Now, after time in Haiti, I don't worry about that too much if we don't need heat, but this time of year it's another story. We do have a generator to keep the convent's core from getting below 50. Or at least I think that's the case. As I said, I've not been there for this. In any case, we have a plan for what happens if we wake up in the morning with no power, so our bases are covered.

planning ahead

We definitely made the news up here:

 Over 30 inches of snow falls in New England blizzard, major coastal flooding continues

No mercy: Blizzard slams Boston area with 2 feet of snow

 Here's some of what I posted on Twitter pre-storm Sunday just for contrast:

the convent pre-storm

serene bay - the calm before the storm

Now here I am in Cambridge.  We never have lost power, and I think we are out of the danger zone for that (maybe I shouldn't say that out loud...).

The snow, though, is reasonably impressive for this part of the world, especially since we've had such a very mild winter so far. Plenty of wind, too, of course, given that it's a blizzard.  We had planned to start shoveling dark and early, right after 6AM Morning Prayer, but that was nixed due to the wind.

Snow may be inconvenient, but it's pretty to look at, especially when the snowy branches are framed so nicely.

This is a much less scenic view - but I was suitably impressed with the depth illustrated here.
snowy cloister garden

We finally did go out to shovel after lunch.  I must say, we made an impressive crew: a number of brothers and their interns along with three sisters.  Many hands don't make short work with this much snow, but they make much shorter work, relatively speaking. And the brothers do have an impressive number of snow shovels. Teamwork, indeed.  This is a fine example of what living in community can be like.

I started shoveling here (photos from inside, needless to say!):

 Naturally, I  made a snow angel in this impressive accumulation on the steps before beginning. Yes, I was covered in snow, but since it was already past my knees and blowing around, that was inevitable, so why not enjoy it?!

Next stop, helping dig out the cars. And that took a while.

This evening, out the window with my phone, I took this picture of a couple of cars in a neighboring parking lot. Their owners will need to plan some serious time digging out, so let's hope they figure this out before they next need to leave for work.

buried cars

Meanwhile, back on the ranch:

Tuesday late afternoon - not over yet

It's still snowing, so we shall see what tomorrow brings. It's not quite over.  

Pray for those with inadequate shelter, those with no power, and all those out working on our behalf in the midst of it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

R.I.P. Sr. Marie Margaret

Sr. Marie Margaret, SSM
at General Convention

It is with deep sorrow that we deliver the sad news that Sister Marie Margaret has died. After suffering a massive stroke in Haiti, she was brought by air ambulance first to the Dominican Republic, then finally to the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Valiant efforts were made by the medical team but the damage was too severe. This is a time of sadness both for the Sisters and for her family, whom we ask that you keep in your thoughts and prayers. We will share more information as it becomes available.

At this time we are also giving thanks for Sister Marie Margaret's many years in community.  As a young Sister of the Society of St. Margaret, Sr. Marie Margaret served at St. Monica's Nursing Home in Roxbury; St. Margaret's House, New Hartford, NY; St. Margaret's House, Oliver Street, NYC; as well as at the Boston Convent. In 1971 she took up work at St. Margaret's House in Philadelphia, and served as Parish Sister at St. Luke's Church, Germantown, Philadelphia until 1979. During the summers of 1972-1978 she was responsible for the younger children at St. Margaret's Camp, Duxbury, MA.  She received her R.N. in 1983. In 1985 she returned to Haiti and in 1994 became Sister-in-Charge of St. Margaret's Convent, Haiti.

Sr. Marie Margaret, SSM

Sr. Marie Margaret was the first of our Sisters to join us from Haiti.  Sr. Marjorie Raphael remembers meeting her in 1951, when Sr. Marie - still Yvette Fenelon at the time - was a young adult leader of the Cathédrale Sainte Trinité youth group and working in the clinic at the cathedral school. She remarked on Sr. Marie Margaret's great courage in pursuing her vocation, travelling to Boston far from everyone and everything she knew, and also on her great love of being a Sister of St. Margaret.

Sr. Adele Marie recalls, "Sr. Marie Margaret and I shared some years together in the novitiate. I remember the cold, frosty day on which she arrived in Boston from the warmth of Haiti. I was sent to Logan to meet her plane and bring her to the Convent. The days and months after her arrival were filled with challenges and adjustments. She coped beautifully, putting up with frigid temperatures, English immersion, and strange food.

During our novitiate we discovered quite by chance that she had great talents as a mimic. Most Sundays the novices were expected to attend the 11 am Mass at St. John's Church, Bowdoin Street, which at that time was under the direction of the Cowley Fathers. The priest in charge during these years was Father Banner, SSJE. We quickly noticed his distinctive mannerisms when he gave the announcements mid-way through the Eucharist. One Sunday afternoon about five of us were in the novitiate common room commenting on what we perceived as his 'oddities' when suddenly Marie Margaret was on her feet doing an absolutely screamingly funny take-off on Fr. Banner delivering the announcements. Suddenly the door opened and Sr. Eleanora's nearly six-foot frame entered the room glowering at our antics and hilarity. We were all dressed down properly with a lecture on 'respect for the clergy.'"

Sr. Sarah recalls with fondness her sartorial training upon arrival in Haiti. Never again will she be able to look at a scuffed shoe or wrinkled habit without thinking of Sr. Marie Margaret and running for the shoe polish or iron. It was also Sr. Marie Margaret who taught her the proper way to transform huge bolts of linen into beautiful purificators and altar cloths.  She will always be profoundly grateful for Sr. Marie Margaret's care and generosity during a family health emergency; as we have just learned again, handling such things internationally is very difficult.

Sr. Marie Margaret was a very encouraging person, always helping others to keep going. Sr. Claire Marie tells about making a trip to a rural mountain mission near Léogane. She and Sr. Marie Margaret started their trip by jeep but needed to switch to horses partway there. Sr. Claire Marie was afraid to get up on the horse, but Sr. Marie Margaret encouraged her to get up there, backpack and all. When the hill got steep and Sr. Claire Marie declared she was going back down, Sr. Marie Margaret called back, "You can't! It's too steep!" After a time, Sr. Claire Marie had to get off the horse and had trouble with her backpack. Sr. Marie Margaret carried both of theirs while one of the men accompanying them helped Sr. Claire Marie up the hill. Coming down was a piece of cake after that.

Sr. Promise sent the following recollection from Haiti, where she has gone to help out for a short while:

"Sr. Marie Margaret was the first sister I met the first day I was on my way to the convent. One afternoon before I went to school I decided to go and meet the sisters for the first time after two of the seminarians told me about sisters in the Episcopal Church. On my way there I met one of the seminarians. While talking with him, Sr. Marie was on her way to deliver something to Holy Trinity School. The seminarian present me to her and on her way back, she took me to the convent. Upon that encounter, we stay in touch. She was my novice Mistress, she sewed my novice habit and she put a handkerchief in my pocket. She received me as a novice, she receive my temporary and my life vows. And she always make sure that I have a new handkerchief in the pocket of my habit for each of those occasion. As you know I love to ask question and she is never tired of answering me and never think that I am challenging her instead she was very open and welcoming to my questions. She taught me so much about putting other first and it is not about me. I am very grateful for all she taught me especially on how to find God in everything."

Sr. Marie Margaret

On a beautiful autumn day last September during the Gathering, Sr. Kristina Frances went to Plimoth Planation with Sr. Marie Margaret, Sr. Marie Thérèse, Sr. Promise and Sr. Kéthia. Sr. Promise and Sr. Kristina Frances took a ton of pictures and some are attached below. In one of the gardens at the Plantation, Sr. Marie Margaret found a carved, wooden chair that she thought made her look taller and wondered how she might get it back to Haiti. We share these pictures with you as a reminder of a time of laughter, of community and the joy of being together on a lovely day.

selfie at Plimonth Plantation 2014
Sr. Kethia, Sr. Marie Margaret, Sr. Kristina Frances

There will be many more stories to tell in the days to come as we remember our sister, her laughter, her smile, and her care for those around her. Perhaps the most important thing we all remember about her is that Sr. Marie Margaret knew, above all, how to love.

The mission and ministry in Haiti Sr. Marie Margaret loved and supported so faithfully continues under the care of Sr. Marie Thérèse and Sr. Kéthia. Please continue to keep them in your prayers as they continue this vital work. To ease some of their burden we ask that you direct any questions or communications regarding Sr. Marie Margaret or Haiti to the Sisters in Duxbury via email at sisters@ssmbos.org. We thank you for your continued support.

In closing, we would like to share from you a note from Sr. Marjorie Raphael which best seems to sum up that which undergirded Sr. Marie Margaret's life:

     You asked yesterday what comes into my mind in thinking about Sr. Marie Margaret. Now that the reality of her death has sunk in, I can think about this. After each paragraph of her life, youth, middle years, and maturer years, one would want to say

"She gave her life to God,
 Not just a part of it,
 But all of it."

      And ending with the consistency of her gift of self, through others, to God. I think of her as single-minded, no rewards of career or achievement, but total gift. In that she is an image of the religious life, a "humble," "little," "Sister."
   And that in no way diminishes what we may see as her "achievements." The one that stands out in my mind is her share in the establishment of the Religious Life within the Episcopal Church in Haiti. But she would do that wherever she was sent.

 She always wanted to identify herself as "A Sister of St. Margaret." Yes, proud to be a Haitian, but uncomfortable with the phrase "Haitian Sister," preferring the all-inclusive "Sister of St. Margaret."  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

MLK, Jr., remembrances

As we all surely know, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday. In the Episcopal Church calendar, we have two days on which we can remember him. Thursday, January 15, is the alternate date; April 4 the primary one. The Sisters of St. Margaret will be remembering him tomorrow.

Martin Luther King, Jr. - Episcopal Lectionary Page

Martin Luther King, Jr. preaching from the Cathedral’s pulpit on May 17, 1956 (The Cathedral Archives).
Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City

Big events going on everywhere. The photo above is attached to an announcement about events at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.  Naturally, there are less well publicized events right here in eastern MA.

Here is the first event I am excited about. (When did I start getting excited about preaching and anti-racisim panels?)  I'm putting out a sign-up sheet to take a carload of Sisters up to Boston with me.

Bishop Curry, Marian Wright Edelman at Trinity, Copley Square, Boston http://trinitychurchboston.org/lectures

Then, on Monday, some of us will be attending the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Prayer Breakfast sponsored by the Duxbury Interfaith Council. If you are from the area, please join us.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Prayer Breakfast
Duxbury Interfaith Council

With so much that has happened this year and all these needless deaths bringing our ingrained racism into the spotlight, it's important that we spend time in prayer - always, of course, but especially this weekend. This cultural situation need not continue. There can be healing. It's going to take a lot of repentance and work for justice, though - it won't fix itself. We've tried that...

If Martin Luther King and all those who had the courage to march back then could remember that in God, there is always hope, then so can we. With God, nothing is impossible. We just need to participate. God's not going to make us do it.

I learned today that his final sermon was at the Washington National Cathedral.

A closing excerpt from Dr. King's final sermon, which was at the Washington National Cathedral:

We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right—as we were singing earlier today,

Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne.
Yet that scaffold sways the future.
And behind the dim unknown stands God,
Within the shadow keeping watch above his own
With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair the stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

Thank God for John, who centuries ago out on a lonely, obscure island called Patmos caught vision of a new Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God, who heard a voice saying, "Behold, I make all things new; former things are passed away."

God grant that we will be participants in this newness and this magnificent development. If we will but do it, we will bring about a new day of justice and brotherhood and peace. And that day the morning stars will sing together and the sons of God will shout for joy. God bless you.

The full text is absolutely worth reading:

*   *   *   *   *

Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last; Grant that your Church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.  (Collect for the Feast of Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

fuel assistance fundraiser - it's c-c-c-c-cold!

Once again the Duxbury Senior Center and the Friends of the Duxbury Council on Aging will be hosting their BLACK TIE BINGO night on January 24, 2015. This is a very important fundraiser for the Duxbury Interfaith Council and allows them to provide heat and the basic necessities of life to those in need. It is our plan to raise over $15,000 to assist 100 families, 400-500 people!

There will be raffles throughout the night to raise the money needed, and we are looking for donations of tickets for professional or college sporting events, concerts, etc. If you have season subscriptions, we would be extremely appreciative of any donation. You will help warm the homes of many. We are a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. You may contact us at 781-934-5774.


The Duxbury Clipper had a nice article on it (thank you!):


About the fuel assistance program, also via the Clipper:

Fuel Assistance Gift Certificates

Got heat? Many people struggle to stay warm during the cold winter months. The Duxbury Interfaith Council has a Fuel Assistance Program, which assists low-income households in paying their home heating bills. This program runs through Apr. 30, 2015 for Duxbury residents, over the age of 60, who have been approved for fuel assistance. To help fund this program, the Duxbury Senior Center is selling gift certificates. These make great holiday gifts for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list, teachers, and hostess gifts. It’s a lovely gift to purchase in someone’s memory, too. Stop by the senior center’s front desk to purchase gift certificates or call for information:
 781-934-5774 ext. 100. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

of love, justice, favor, and delight

   Beloved, let us love one another.
Convent Puppy with Mama
Delmas, Haiti

In today's Eucharistic Lectionary, we read 1 John 4:11-19

Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us...We love because he first loved us.

and Luke 4:14-22

He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free, 
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ 

Tomorrow we'll be hearing about the Baptism of our Lord, in which Jesus hears God say, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

Imagine my delight, then, when I found the following excerpt of a sermon to read at the Noon Office today.  I think it's worth our considering this week.

So when Jesus in today’s text, filled with the Holy Spirit, says that he has been sent by God to announce Good News to the poor, release to the captives, freedom for the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of God’s favor—he is saying many things, but I think one of the main things he is proclaiming is that the oppressed, the captive, the poor, the blind, have God’s favor.  That when God looks at them God is captivated, and delighted – before they are successful, before they get their act together, before they figure out how to behave politely.  It is that love and delight in human beings that is the basis for the justice that God brings about...
I’d invite you to consider two things this week.  First, notice where you yourself feel in need of God’s healing.  Allow yourself to imagine that God delights in you.  You have God’s favor.  The word meaning “God’s favor” only appears five times in the New Testament – once in today’s text, where Jesus proclaims that it is the year of God’s favor.  It also appears in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, where he says that NOW is the time of God’s favor, NOW is the time of God’s healing.  In your personal prayer or meditation this week, I invite you to be open to experiencing God’s delight in your being, God’s intimate awareness and acceptance of who you are.
Next, I invite you to go out of your way to see others with this same delight.  Try it with the people you know best (sometimes that’s the hardest) and also try to really see someone totally outside your normal comfort zone – someone at the margins, wherever that may be.  Try to carve out just a little bit of time to observe someone with the intention of delight.  This might take a little practice, but we can do it.  The foundation of experiencing the other with delight is experiencing God’s delight in you first.  Scripture says that “we love because God first loved us.” 
You may read the whole sermon here:

A Sermon Shared with the People of St. Matthew’s, St. Paul, October 20, 2013
Luke 4:14-21
Lisa Wiens-Heinsohn

Monday, January 5, 2015

grey and white bird ID help, please

Scusset Beach

Today is #NationalBirdDay and also my free day - our community "sabbath" day of rest. So of course I went out to see some. Thought about staying home due to the gale warning, but that would have been far too sensible for a beautiful day, so out I went, though not for the full day.

Scusset Beach breakwater - these tourists told me it was too windy, so I decided to exercise some caution and not go clambering out to the end of it. Another time...

terribly disappointed not to be able to swim or scuba dive after all

Even the Eider is having his down ruffled.

First excitement - I think I have seen a horned grebe.  I *may* have seen one from a very great distance last month, but now I'm realizing there are several possibilities. I'm a beginner at this, so still a bit easily puzzled.

Here is my grebe. I think.

Now here is the other bird. Or birds.  I thought they were all the same type of bird, so I wasn't being careful. Now that I get it home, however, I see that one does not seem to have quite the same beak/bill and the one I think might be a loon doesn't seem to have red eyes, either. But it could be a trick of the light or my wishful thinking (another new bird!).

Anyone have any thoughts on this?