What a beautiful morning!
At our summer church in Kennebunkport a small group meets once a week in the rectory for Centering Prayer, a meditative practice founded in Massachusetts by three Trappist monks in the 1970s. We meditate for twenty minutes by focusing on a sacred word of our own choosing, then watch a short teaching by Thomas Keating on DVD.
The first time I went last summer I was very intimidated by the prospect of a twenty minute meditation! Sitting in a quiet room alone listening to the “noise” in my head is old hat to me and I often mistake it for being productive. Making mental to-do lists, planning, lamenting the past, worrying about the future can happen in the most bucolic of settings. Sitting with a quiet mind? It’s a challenge, but meditation gives me moments of inner silence, the benefits of which are deep and lasting.
I am so saddened to learn about the passing of Barbara Bush. She has been a personal inspiration to me for two very specific reasons that I’d like to share here that were encapsulated in this one excerpt:
In 1980, George ran for president. There were endless receptions, luncheons, dinners and fundraisers. For the campaign, Barbara had to choose an official cause. She picked literacy, which became a lifelong passion. “I realized everything I worried about” – teen pregnancy, hunger, homelessness, drug use, crime – “would be better if more people could read, write and comprehend,” she later recalled. She was also pressured to change her image, with some family members urging her to “color my hair, change my style of dressing and, I suspect, get me to lose some weight,” she later recalled, driving her to tears. Jane Pauley of NBC opened a television interview by asking her: “People say your husband is a man of the ’80s and you are a woman of the ’40s. What do you say to that?” Barbara, though stung, declined to alter her matronly image, which instead helped her become one of her husband’s most powerful political assets. A critic, Andrew Sullivan of The New Republic magazine, called her “America’s queen mother” whose “mastery of frumpy do-goodery is, of course, modeled on the Windsors.”
Wayne and I are missing church this morning due to a “winter weather advisory” which includes icy rain and slick roads. Then we’re getting some snow! I’ll miss going this morning because weather and wellness permitting, during the fall, winter and spring, Wayne and I go to our Episcopal church in Cape Elizabeth* every Sunday. We prefer the early morning quiet and “contemplative” service which means there are no hymns, choir nor an organ being played. Unlike the later service there is a relatively small attendance of regulars. Here are some things I really love about our ritual:
“It’s not whether we win or lose; it’s who we help along the way.”
Retired Maine football coach John Wolfgram has won ten state championships and more than 300 games during four decades as a head coach at four schools. John is also a champion at ushering at the 8:00 a.m. service at our church, St. Albans in Cape Elizabeth. When he asked if Wayne and I could fill in for one of his slots, I told him we’d trade in exchange for a blog interview! He cheerfully and graciously agreed. I’m so happy and honored that he volunteered to share his inspiring approach to “winning” with you here on Serene New England.
After a stormy couple of days the sun came out this morning. The stained glass at church, in cooperation with the rising sun, created beautiful displays of light in the sanctuary.
One year ago today Wayne and I visited St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery despite the frigid temps. It’s open to the public year-round. Here are some of the beautiful sights:
We went to a candlelight service on Christmas Eve and had a white Christmas followed by a burst of sunlight. Wayne also opened some surprising gifts.
I’ve had some rough days since my last post, but I’ll start with the more upbeat stuff. The photo above is of Wayne looking rather tiny in contrast with the big colorful trees in our woods.
Wayne and I stopped to take photos of this decaying church during our foliage drive this past weekend. I think of all of the celebrations, sermons and funerals that once took place here and how forlorn and sad it is now. Yet, that gives it a haunting beauty, don’t you think?