Monday, April 14, 2014

lunchtime for a fox

I don't imagine these photos will be making it onto any greeting cards we might make in the future, but they're still pretty amazing.  I was just sitting at the picnic table brainstorming and taking notes for my Easter sermon when the movement caught my eye.

fox with squirrel appearing from our neighbors' yard

Grabbed my camera (without which I go nowhere these days) and tried (otherwise) to be very still. I've been wanting a photo since I saw two beautiful babies out in the snow in January.  Sadly, I pointed my camera at them, clicked, and saw "out of battery" on the screen. Aaaargh! Hadn't seen one again till last week, though other sisters had.

trotting across the yard towards the picnic table where I was working

Well, this one saw me, but all it did was pick up the pace so as to pass by me more quickly.

'Scuse me, just passing through...

Your first reaction might be, "Oh, poor squirrel," but even foxes have to eat.

Can't stop to talk - on my way to lunch.

I'm wondering if he or she was taking it back to the kits. They must be old enough to hunt, but maybe not old enough to be successful. Maybe Mama is sharing with them.  Or not.

Bye now... 

She just kept going across the yard in front of the retreat house, cut down by the water in front of a neighbor's house, and disappeared, leaving me there, still open-mouthed.  Amazing. What a gift to see one right there, so close.  I'd love to see it again and get a few more photos.  Minus squirrel.  Or even without my camera, just to have a moment of contemplation of such beauty.

I hope our retreatants will be able to share some of this beauty this week.  Holy Week has its own beauty, with or without wildlife, but I find that this kind of wonder opens one up even further to the Holy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


This afternoon, Sr. Brigid and I were down at St. Marina's Guest House getting a couple of rooms ready for Holy Week overnight guests.  While we were working in one of the first floor bedrooms, I happened to glance outside the window.  What is that?! I peered outside through the slats of the blinds. Sure enough, right outside the window on the grass by the porch was a hawk, just sitting there as calmly as can be.  The house is on a hill, so I assume he or she was looking for an afternoon snack.  I excused myself and made a dash for the kitchen, where I'd left the camera I'd brought just in case.  As I've learned, you just never know who's going to show up outside. (Planning soon to post more photos from this past week if possible.)

So here he or she is.

Of course, I was trying to maneuver the camera so as to take pictures through the Venetian blinds without alerting him/her to my presence, which was probably pretty comical.

I'm guessing it's either a female or, more likely, a juvenile.  We have bird books upstairs, and I took a glance through, but I sure can't tell one from the other; more research will have to wait for Easter Week.  Unless one of you knows?

The take-off was swift - a flurry of wings and that was it.

Life is full of glimpses of beauty.  I hope to learn more and more to keep my eyes open.

So grateful.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on judging others

"When we judge other people we confront them in a spirit of detachment, observing and reflecting as it were from the outside. But love has neither time nor opportunity for this. If we love, we can never observe the other person with detachment, for he is always and at every moment a living claim to our love and service...

Judgement is the forbidden objectivization of the other person which destroys single-minded love. I am not forbidden to have my own thoughts about the other person, to realize his shortcomings, but only to the extent that it offers to me an occasion for forgiveness and unconditional love, as Jesus proves to me. If I withhold my judgement I am not indulging in tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner and confirm the other person in his bad ways. Neither I am right nor the other person, but God is always right and shall proclaim both his grace and his judgement.

Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are. But in the love of Christ we know all about every conceivable sin and guilt; for we know how Jesus suffered, and how all men have been forgiven at the foot of the cross. Christian love sees the fellow-man under the cross and therefore sees with clarity. If when we judged others, our real motive was to destroy evil, we should look for evil where it is certain to be found, and that is in our own hearts. But if we are on the lookout for evil in others, our real motive is obviously to justify ourselves, for we are seeking to escape punishment for our own sins by passing judgement on others, and are assuming by implication that the Word of God applies to ourselves in one way, and to others in another. All this is highly dangerous and misleading. We are trying to claim for ourselves a special privilege which we deny to others. But Christ's disciples have no rights of their own or standards of right and wrong which they could enforce with other people; they have received nothing but Christ's fellowship. Therefore the disciple is not to sit in judgement over his fellow-man because he would wrongly usurp the jurisdiction."

From Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. pp. 184, 185

Monday, April 7, 2014

Yom Hashoah/ Holocaust Remembrance Service

I just got a notice from the Duxbury Interfaith Council ( about an upcoming service.  I really hope I can go to this.  I remember reading so many children's and young adult books about the Holocaust and wondering how it could have happened.  While I think I understand a little more now, it still surprises me each time I read about the genocides and attempted genocides that continue to happen around the world.  When will we learn? Why do we hate? Is it all about power?  In any case, the power of evil is still alive and well, and ignoring it just gives it more space to work. I know that death is NEVER the end of the story; how tragic and evil that the very passion, death, and resurrection that shows us this, that gives us hope, was used and no doubt is still used as an excuse for death-dealing and hate. We all need to make ourselves actively available to work for life and peace among all God's people, all God's creation.  Remembering and standing with those who have suffered is a first step.

Irene Levin Berman, author of "We Are Going to Pick Potatoes," will share her experiences as a survivor of the Holocaust.


Congregation Shirat Hayam will sponsor its annual Interfaith Holocaust Remembrance Service, Yom Hashoah, on April 28, 7 PM.  The service will be held at the Congregation, 185 Plain St. in Marshfield (The Sanctuary Church). 

Irene Levin Berman will make actual testimony to the atrocities of the Holocaust. She was born and raised in Norway.  As a young child in 1942 she escaped to Sweden, a neutral country in World War II to avoid annihilation.  Nazi Germany had invaded Norway and the deportation of two thousand Norwegian Jews had begun.  Seven members of her father’s immediate family were among the 771 victims who were unable to escape and were murdered in Auschwitz.

In 2005 Irene was forced to begin to examine the label of being a Holocaust survivor.  Her strong dual identity as a Norwegian and a Jew led her to explore previously unopened doors in her mind.  Her book “We Are Going to Pick Potatoes": Norway And The Holocaust, The Untold Story is not a narrative of the Holocaust alone, but the remembrances of growing up Jewish in Norway during and after World War II.  Irene is living testimony to the atrocities.

Congregation Shirat Hayam invites all members of the community including youth groups and religious school classes to attend the educational experience.  To arrange for large groups or more information please call 781-582-2700

Congregation Shirat Hayam, Marshfield MA

If you would like to know more about this congregation, you may visit their website:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

strange things growing in trees

This looks like something straight from Dr. Seuss, especially in the trees that have a lot of them.

This is from a different tree, but might be the same thing. Certainly must be related, in any case - equally Seuss-like.

Here are three more things in the category of "strange things attached to trees."  The middle one I thought might be some sort of strange nest. For that matter, the first one is rather round... I suppose it could be, too, though I've never seen one that color. I saw a number of things looking like the last one. 

Anyone have any ideas? I have bird books to consult to identify the punk ducks I also saw on the walk (another blog post?), but strangely enough, we have no Peterson's Guide to Odd Things in Trees.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lent Madness in full swing

Fr. Tim made NPR! Score one for him. Oh wait, he's not on the list for this year's brackets.


Have a look-see or a listen:

There are others interviewed, of course, including members of a parish where each saint is represented by someone in the congregation.  Most unusually, my favorite line in the interview is NOT from Fr. Tim.

"I'm Catherine of Siena," says 12-year-old Maddie Reifsteck. "She's like some sort of nun or something that gets the job done, apparently."

Naturally, I am all for "some sort of nun or something that gets the job done, apparently."  Maybe I'll even be one of them someday.  Although that depends on the job. 

the brackets so far...

From the follow-up Lent Madness blog post:

Whoever wins this year's bracket, Lent Madness 2014 will go down as a devotion that shows no partiality when it comes to media coverage. What other Lenten devotion can claim it was covered by both FOX News and NPR? Talk about Red State/Blue State ecumenism!
To listen to the story, click here.
Thanks to all of you who continue to embrace this madness in the spirit in which we intend -- as a devotion to help introduce or re-introduce some pretty amazing folks who have served Jesus in their own way and in their own day. Sure, we have some fun along the way and, of course, Lent Madness isn't for everyone (certainly not the humorless). But, as Scott likes to say, "If you don't like it, go start your own online Lenten devotion."
You will certainly want to take a look for yourself.  And vote, of course!  Surely your spiritual director/pastor/mother/golden retriever/local nun will be duly impressed with your participation.

One caveat to my enthusiasm: I must object to the outcome of March 13th: Harriet Beecher Stowe (51%) defeated James Holly (49%)  Mgr Holly, the first bishop of the Episcopal Church of Haiti, was clearly the best choice.  See this earlier fan post, which proves my point. Sniff.

Bishop James Theodore Holly,  1900

Finally, as we enter into another exciting and occasionally heart-wrenching day of voting, remember that what we say about confessing our sins to a priest in the Episcopal Church also applies to engaging in Lent Madness: “All may, none must, some should.”

So come cheer on your own favorite saints. You wouldn't want yours to suffer the same fate.  It's not over till it's over!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Annunciation waffles

Yes, I was wondering, too.

I've been praying with saying YES to God this morning. Mary must have been an amazing, courageous girl.  I'd like to be more like that.

I was not thinking about waffles; I'm not sure she was eating them when Gabriel showed up.  Visions of Mary in the kitchen making waffles with Gabriel talking to her through the window spring to mind... But never mind.

So what is this all about?  I just checked Twitter and was baffled by references to waffles on "Lady Day."  And here I thought I was somewhat well-versed in such things.  I guess not.

But the mystery is now solved:
"In Swedish, the word våffla is attested since 1642 and derives from the German Waffel but is possibly associated by ancestors with Vår Fru (The Virgin Mary).  Waffles are served, even today, in a large number of Swedish householdson Våffeldagen, that is to say, on Lady Day, which is observed the 25th of March. In modern times, March 25 has been designated as “International Waffle Day”."  

The article above also includes a recipe for early 19th century raised waffles.

Before I get back to work, let me also share with you today's thanksgiving for our Sr. Carolyn, whose 25th profession anniversary is today.  I'm so glad she said YES - and that she continues to do so.

Blessed Feast, all.