Thursday, April 30, 2015

...she was born into the poem...

“More Beautiful than the Holy Locust Tree Are the Words of the Lord”
by Mary Oliver (Thirst)

The deer came into the field.
I saw her peaceful face and heard the shuffle of her breath.
She was sweet enough for merriment and not afraid,
            but bold to say
Whose field she was crossing: spoke the tap of her foot:
“It is God’s, and mine.”

But only that she was born into the poem that God made, and 
     called the world.

Monday, April 27, 2015

lightning tour of Cincinnati

Just how fast can you retrieve baggage, get picked up by your nephew and his girlfriend, eat lunch, and get a lightning tour of the University of Cincinnati area and still arrive in time for vespers at your conference nearby? Well, I found out! And I didn't even get rained on much in the process.

Welcome to Cincinnati!

I recommend Graeter's ice cream wholeheartedly. Good fuel for a speedwalking tour.

Welcome to the University of Cincinnati!

Interesting campus architecture and lots of tulips - it's spring here!

more interesting campus architecture

delighted to see them

They don't make pools the way I remember them... and this is just the recreational swimming pool on campus. They also have a lap pool (which may or may not be the competitive swimming pool; I forgot to ask).

UC architecture class final projects on display
I would love to know what the assignment was.

How's this for some high school architecture?

quick view of the outside of my father's doctoral alma mater with a picture taken just for him
(I love you, Dad!)

My nephew pays a whole $200/month rent for a room in this house. Toto, we're not in Massachusetts anymore...

Whew! We made it!
And it was a great conference, too.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

more signs of spring

I am ready for spring, and I think it may finally be happening. Or almost. I see some buds on the trees. There is still snow in some places, but it's disappeared from our little campus completely. And summer birds are returning!

Here are some my first-of-the-season birds.

Tree Swallows are back!

first Great Egret of the year, hanging out north of Duxbury Harbor

my first *ever* Piping Plover - Duxbury Outer Beach

Because I've never seen Piping Plovers before, I'm including several pictures. You're welcome. (-:

Piping Plover Peeping

By the way, they run very fast.

No, I wasn't chasing them. Grateful for a zoom lens. (Wish I'd had this in Haiti! Not that it would have been practical.) Actually, other than the first one I saw down by the water, the rest were behind a roped-off (well, with plastic tape) area so they won't be disturbed. One hopes dog walkers will obey the leash laws on the beach; so far the only off-leash dogs I've seen have been very much under vocal control, so that's good.

Stay back!

As you were...

I went down to the picnic table near the water to work on a sermon this afternoon and saw my first laughing gull of the season, as well. This is not a good picture - it was very far away - but I'm happy to see their return. I assume there are more around somewhere nearby, as gulls seem to hang around in flocks.

The winter birds are building their nests.  I've seen a couple of red-tailed hawks trying to build in or near our grove, and they keep getting chased off by the crows, who seem to work well in groups. The crows are building, too, of course, and they have their future offspring in mind.

I went to the North River Sanctuary and found new little things pushing their way through the dirt, undeterred by the few piles of leftover grey snow here and there.

Anyone know what these are? Bulbs of some kind? The ones below are coming up all over the wooded area where I saw this little group.

OK, there is nothing summery about this seal from the North River, but I've never seen one on the East Coast, so I'm excited.

I hope the happy news, happy sights, and hope of spring in the air help you and I and all of us to sleep well tonigh and wake refreshed and ready to go - with a spring in our step.

Monday, April 6, 2015

rainbow 'round the sun

I was praying and got distracted by the crows chasing a red-tailed hawk out of our grove. Not very nunlike, I suppose... You've heard the joke about INFP's at prayer... "And, God, thank you for... oh, look, a bird!... all this beauty..." Anyway, I looked out the window, and this is what I saw! A round rainbow! Wow. 

Actually, I think it was God who "distracted" me... Seems to me that God loves to share the beauty of creation with us, and so many times when I see such a thing, I catch my breath and move into a place of greater thanks and praise. God is so good and so beautiful! 

It seems especially appropriate during Eastertide, when we're celebrating God's salvation and promises, of which the rainbow has been a sign. 

Genesis 9:12-16
God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’

What makes a halo around the sun or moon? | Science Wire | EarthSky 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

signs of things soon to come

Getting ready for my favorite service of the year, the Easter Vigil.
If you're curious, you can look at the liturgy here:
You have to add arrival in the dark, then fire and candles, then the liturgical equivalent of storytelling around a campfire (Paschal Candle!), then bells and music, lots of music! and the Eucharist. Such a celebration of resurrection.

all set up for the New Fire, which is quite something in the dark - we start at 4AM!

hand candles for the congregation

bells for the congregation to ring when we sing our A......a!

I must ask for the story of this bell marked 1770...

getting the Paschal candle stand ready

altar cover back on for Easter
Sunrise is usually around the time of communion, light streaming through the window behind the altar. So perfect.

The rest of the set-up will wait till 3AM, I think. Maybe more flowers tonight? 

Look, even the green things realize it's time to come back to life!

The song sparrows have been practicing.

Even the crows are dressed up in their finest and looking lovely.

So join us in the Chapel at 4AM if you are feeling adventurous!
30 Harden Hill Road, Duxbury MA

We'll be here. 

Now. To sleep, if I can. The wee hours are when I wake (um, more or less) in great anticipation of the great dawn.

reflection on Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday 2015
St. Margaret’s Chapel, Duxbury

Holy Saturday. Jesus’ body lies in the sealed tomb.  Mary and the women wait with the disciples. It’s the sabbath; nothing can be done.

Nothing can be done.  That is an extraordinarily difficult place to be.

Imagine them, gathered in small groups perhaps. Traumatized, grief-stricken, uncertain, angry, afraid. Those few who had summoned up the courage to go to Golgotha likely cannot shake the images burned into them during that time. Those who hid – that is, most of them - are guilt-ridden.  And there is no escape, no distraction. It’s the sabbath. Time to be still. Time to wait and pray.

Some of them are planning what to do next. The women, at least, have something they can DO in the morning, before dawn. They can go to the tomb and anoint the body, one last gesture of love for one they loved so dearly – and who loved them even more.  Some of the men are gathered, talking in low voices behind closed doors about what to do next. The unthinkable has happened. Their world has been shattered, their lives may be in danger, and they have no earthly idea what will happen in the days to come. They don’t understand it – and how could they?

Everything is up in the air. Nothing is certain.

And nothing can be done.  Oh, little things... Somehow the women have gotten ahold of the ointments for burial. The men can curse at Judas, at the Temple authorities, at Pilate and the Romans. But Jesus is dead, and there is no changing that.  Perhaps they remember the passage from Job:

For there is hope for a tree,
if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease…
But mortals die, and are laid low;
humans expire, and where are they?   (Job 14:7, 10)

Two things are certain: death and taxes – and the Romans have both of those well in hand.

So there they sit, face to face with their grief and confusion.  They know Jesus is not coming back, but slowly the memories of other times, still fresh, surface among those of yesterday. “Do you remember?” “Do you remember?”  And, in this, a thread of courage and peace weaves its way through the quiet tumult of their day. They still don’t understand, their grief is still deep, and they still can do nothing. But slowly they are becoming strong enough to stay there. “Do you remember?”

Holy Saturday is a sabbath day for us, too - a day of repose, a day when we are asked to be still. To stay. To be fully present. It’s uncomfortable to be in a place where we can do nothing. Being, just being, rather than doing, goes against all our cultural training. Most of us have had no experience of true weekly sabbath trained into us from childhood as the disciples would have had.

We, of course, know the end of this story, and it’s a temptation to jump straight to Easter.  But Holy Saturday has its own gift. When we stay with the disciples in their grief and uncertainty about the future, in their not-knowing, we begin to know more deeply the power of God to hold us. We begin to grow in trust.  When we stay with the disciples, contemplating the sealed tomb, we receive the grace of courage to be – to be present instead of running away – to accept what is, even death itself.  None of us knows what the future will bring any more than the disciples did that Saturday.  But we are here, now, as we are, as it all is.

As the disciples must have done, we can say, “Do you remember?” We, too, have had our experiences of God – and we can share in the remembering of the community when our own memories and experience fall short. Together, even at times when we know little and can do nothing, we stay.  We remember that God is with us, even when we don’t know where or how.  And with the disciples that sabbath day, we can rest in that.

We who are here today have been given the gift of knowing that Holy Saturday isn’t the end of the story. And, as we know, that changes everything. Everything. But let’s not jump ahead just yet. Let’s take today to wait with Mary and the other disciples. Whatever the time brings, together we can stay with it.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday Anthem 1

We glory in your cross, O Lord,
and praise and glorify your holy resurrection;
for by virtue of your cross
joy has come to the whole world.

May God be merciful to us and bless us,
show us the light of his countenance, and come to us.

Let your ways be known upon earth,
your saving health among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

We glory in your cross, O Lord,
and praise and glorify your holy resurrection;
for by virtue of your cross
joy has come to the whole world.

Book of Common Prayer 1979 p. 281

before the cock crows...

rooster in yard near Leogane, Haiti

Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times. - John 13:37-38

-  -  -

Judas, Peter

because we are all
betrayers, taking
silver and eating
body and blood and asking
(guilty) is it I and hearing
him say yes
it would be simple for us all
to rush out
and hang ourselves
but if we find grace
to weep and wait
after the voice of morning
has crowed in our ears
clearly enough
to break our hearts
he will be there
to ask us each again
do you love me

Luci Shaw

Thursday, April 2, 2015

watch and pray

Mark 14:32-40

 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, ‘Abba,* Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’ He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial;* the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him.

Taize "Stay with me"

Stay with me, remain here with me.
Watch and pray, watch and pray.


1. Stay here and keep watch with me. 
Watch and pray, watch and pray!
2. Watch and pray not to give way to temptation.
3. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.
4. My heart is nearly broken with sorrow. 
Remain here with me, stay awake and pray.
5. Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by.
6. Father, if this cannot pass me by without my drinking it, 
your will be done

Maundy Thursday, especially on foot-washing

Maundy Thursday
St. Margaret's Chapel, Duxbury

Tonight we will have our Liturgy for Maundy Thursday in the Chapel. If you are in the area, please join us at 7PM (30 Harden Hill Road, Duxbury, MA).

I am awed by the gift of being able to preside at the beginning of the long liturgy that encompasses the next three days.  The washing of feet is especially powerful, and it may be precisely because it is not comfortable. We must both learn to do for others what Jesus has done for us AND learn to accept, as Peter had to, receiving this as well.
John 13:1-17 - Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

"Bare" - an excerpt from Br. Curtis' reflection (see link below):

Many people are rather self-conscious about their feet.  Feet are a usually-hidden part of our body. There have been some years in the past when, on Maundy Thursday, I have made sure to wash my own feet ahead of time and put on fresh socks. (I wouldn’t want to make a bad impression on someone having to wash my feet.)  When we bare our feet, we are quite exposed, literally and symbolically.  So tonight, what does the footwashing signify to you?  Is there anything you are prone to keep disclosed or hidden from Jesus that needs to come into the light?  What is it about you – your body, your fears, your needs, your memory, your future – that you otherwise keep covered, where Jesus is inviting you to uncover, to be seen and known, held and washed?  Is there dirt that needs to be washed cleaned?  What does footwashing symbolize for you just now?
...You may discover – far beyond your control – that you are being washed by the gift of tears tonight.  Maybe you didn’t even know something was wrong, something was hurt, something was soiled, and you experience tonight a washing of your soul through the gift of tears.
Maundy Thursday Remembrance – Br. Curtis Almquist

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
- Collect from the Liturgy for Maundy Thursday (BCP online)

More on Maundy Thursday:
Maundy Thursday 2015: The History Behind The Holy Thursday Before Easter