Our family moved to the Community in 1971, when there were only 25 members. Now at 73 years old, I have been blessed `seeing the Community grow to more than ten times its size, and my oldest of four granddaughters about to graduate from Rock Harbor Academy. One of my greatest joys is being a Docent for the Church and sharing the blessing that visitors experience here. I am also privileged in helping to arrange tours for several of the Gloriae Dei Artes performing groups. I love to garden and paint, and occasionally I am privileged to sing with the Choir for its larger works.
Are you a “cracked pot”? Does a cracked pot have value? If we have a valuable item that gets broken, do we try to mend it so that the crack shows as little as possible? Most of us would answer yes to these questions BUT some of us learned a whole different appreciation of “cracked pots” from Gabrielle Wilpers who gave an art retreat here in April. We were introduced to the Japanese Kintsugi technique which illuminates “cracks” often with brilliant gold highlights. This is similar to the philosophy of wabi-sabi which values rather than hides the marks of broken-ness.
Most of us would say we want the light of Jesus to shine through us, but we have difficulty accepting that light can only come through the “cracks”, and we do our best to hide the cracks from others and mostly from ourselves.
The value of being willing to appreciate our cracks really hit home with me the other day in a daily reading from Oswald Chambers which says, “The saint is hilarious when he is crushed with difficulties because the thing is so ludicrously impossible to anyone but God.”
Let us welcome being “cracked pots”. We have the assurance that Jesus will mend our cracks with the balm of Gilead and that they will shine as bright as the noon day sun.
Have you seen the painting “The Scream”? I am currently on a trip to Chicago which began by travel on a full airplane which was late in landing. On arrival everyone immediately stood up, jamming the aisles while the passengers who had close connecting flights were fighting to get through to the front… What mayhem! Too bad there was no announcement for those not in a hurry to wait until the others got off.
Then I got in line to get a taxi…..there was a break in the barricade so wheelchairs could get through but behind the wheelchair others were cramming forward to get to the head of the line. Others ran to the end of the line behind the people waiting so they could hop into the cabs first without having to wait in line.
I am a very impatient person myself but this time I had no deadline so I started a conversation with a woman beside me in line and wound up telling her I was in Chicago for a doctor’s appointment. She asked the name of the doctor and when I told her, she said her father had the same surgeon and she told me how wonderful he was! Suddenly a weight of anxiety was miraculously lifted from my shoulders.
I thought of the Mary/Martha sermon last Sunday in church. It wasn’t the work that Martha was doing that was the problem but her anxiety and worry. By the grace of God alone for that moment in the taxi line, I was able to choose the better part to have a friendly chat with another person, and Jesus used the conversation with that woman to calm my fears!
Yesterday was the funeral celebration of one of our Clergy whose family had moved to the community 40 years ago.
Ed was a farmer at heart and he loved taking care of the vegetables, flowers (roses were his specialty), and all the animals. One of the hymns sung during the liturgy, “In the Garden” (based on the scripture Genesis 3:8), says it all for Ed: “And they heard the voice of the Lord walking in the garden….”
One of the post-funeral traditions we hold dear is going to the cemetery after the funeral, to place our loved one in the ground. Each person takes a shovel full of dirt to lay on the coffin. The Community family takes care of the body from the moment of death — keeping vigil by the coffin — to the laying of the sod over the coffin when the last shovel full of earth has been laid.
Another custom, while we are filling the grave, is to share any remembrances of our loved one. All ages enter in — from the 10-year-old who remembered Uncle Ed always giving the children lollipops every Sunday, to a landscaping manager who got his first love of landscaping from Ed, to the fellow community member who remembered when he was struggling spiritually being told by Ed, “Come into my office (which was under a shade tree) and let’s talk.”
What a wonderful way to say goodbye to a fellow traveler on the road to our eternal home!
I am blessed to be working on an international Symposium on Ecumenism and the Arts occurring in 2017, the 500th anniversary of Luther’s Reformation, in four countries and six different cities. I have been asking the Lord to give me the vision of the significance of this event in our time.
The world situation is certainly more dangerous than at any other time in my lifetime, and maybe ever, with the capability of a nuclear holocaust. And yet, we have recently had a reconciliation brought about after 1,000 years – that of the encounter between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church. “Finally! We are brothers,” the Pope exclaimed. Seemingly, this meeting took place because of the persecution of Christians worldwide. One Orthodox cleric said, “We need to put aside internal disagreements at this tragic time…”
So hopefully in these dark days with the rise of secularism growing, the light of Christ will shine ever more brightly – that we might all be one!
As I was thanking God for his miraculous protection after Winter Storm Jonas, I realized once again that we sit on a fragile piece of land. Although we may be more removed from some of the riots occurring in the large American cities, Cape Cod has its own threat of destruction.
This made me think of one of my favorite frescoes in our Church – Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. Moses looks pretty small standing between the gigantic waves on either side. The bottom of the waves where he is standing are almost black in color…..and yet he has both arms up stretching to God. His face is turned upward toward the large beautiful light in the blue sky beyond.
I wonder if Moses felt like he was tightrope walking, similar to the man going over Niagara Falls – if a lot of his energy had to go into keeping his arms uplifted – what if he looked down even for a second….
As a young person one of my favorite hymns was How firm a Foundation: ”When through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow; I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.” (based on Isaiah 43:2)
One of my favorite things to contemplate in the Church of the Transfiguration’s mosaic apse is the New Jerusalem above Christ in Glory. The tesserae sparkle in brilliant shades of red, blue and gold. Buildings of different sizes line the path, and lead to a tiny door (almost like Alice in Wonderland) in the top center of the apse.
I look at all the buildings and wonder: will my whole Community family be in one big building, or will I be in one of the tiniest ones that look so welcoming? I do know one thing. God will be with me, and will wipe away every tear from my eyes, and there will be no more mourning or crying or pain. (Revelation 21:3, 4)
But how to get there? One of the clergy gave a little sermon about giving up everything to follow Jesus. He described a man who went to heaven carrying only a small suitcase of his most treasured possessions. He was welcomed at the door and given a new robe to put on. But the suitcase would not pass through the sleeve of his robe, so he had to leave it at the door.
Fortunately, most of us are not called to give up all our worldly possessions all at once, but we are a long way from one small suitcase. The more I unpack here, the less I’ll have to leave at the threshold of that tiny door to the New Jerusalem — and the more room I’ll make for Jesus.
Last week, we had a funeral for one of our earliest religious Sisters. At the burial site, someone mentioned her love for the desert. That struck a chord with me, because I have had a love for the desert ever since I traveled one day over the desert from Amman, Jordan to Cairo, Egypt, and then another time from the North to the South of Israel. I felt the power of the desert, the force of shifting sands, the strength to survive that only God can give, I also saw the beauty in the desert, often in small and hidden plants dependent on God for their blooming. I was reminded of several scriptures from Isaiah: the wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom. . . . they shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. . . I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I have just started reading a book about a woman who was a Docent at the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad at the time of the Siege of Leningrad in 1941. Apparently there was a little advance warning of the Siege and she was involved in removing the art work from the frames and crating it up for protection. As an older woman writing today, she has memory problems, but also flashbacks to the beautiful art she had helped to preserve. I am a current Docent at the Church of the Transfiguration — my memories of the beautiful art are refreshed every day — as are my memories of the beautiful sunsets we see every day. I think I will pay more attention to building my storehouse of memories as well as my gratitude to God for the beauty he has given me!
Spirit of America Band marched in two parades – the first one in Bristol, RI where vets from all wars back to Korea were marching in uniform. How can we thank them for their sacrifice? Marching and playing with all our hearts for three hours in baking heat, thanking God for the wonderful country he has given us — the land of the free and the brave.
“Miserere Mei, Deus” – Have mercy upon me, O God, after thy great goodness – the first line of the setting of Psalm 51 by Josquin dez Pres which the choir will be recording this afternoon. My friend is dying – what can I do for him? He is now doing his work with Jesus on going to the place prepared for him in heaven. I can be part of that journey by praising God with joy for his goodness and mercy to my friend.