Monday, March 30, 2015

pothole daffodils on which to meditate

This could make a wonderful meditation...

Plantpothole by Sara Griffin (@cyclemor3)

"Tired of Edinburgh roads being so bad and having reported a major pothole several weeks before, cycle courier Sara Griffin took matters into her own green-fingered hands. She filled the pothole in question with 35 litres of compost and added a floral display to create her own plantpothole.

Griffin told the Scotland’s Worst Drivers website that she had reported the pothole on Castle Terrace to the council city centre team a few weeks before, but while they had repaired all the nearby potholes and road defects, they ignored this one."

Spring is here and the potholes are in bloom

(Thank you, KB, for finding and sharing this!)

Monday in Holy Week

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Palm Sunday Processions in Cange

Cange, Haiti, is the place to be on Palm Sunday. Not only is it Palm Sunday, but it's also their celebration of thanksgiving to God: "Mesi Bondye 2012" reads the banner.  I wrote this post a few years ago when I was living in Haiti. Due to issues with power and low band width, I couldn't get my pictures to upload, so I put off posting it. Well, it's been a while, but Palm Sunday has rolled back around this year, so it's about time I finally shared this.

banner over the road for the occasion

Palm Sunday Processions in Cange

I didn’t have time to post anything earlier on Holy Week and Easter, but there were quite a number of amazing things I would like to share with you.

The first is from Palm Sunday. We went to Cange, home of the hospital run by Zanmi Lasante/Partners in Health, Paul Farmer’s organization. I hadn’t realized it was on the same campus as the Episcopal Church. It was wonderful to see it after hearing about it for so many years. If you haven’t already done so, you should immediately find yourself a copy of Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder and read all about it.

Art Center for the Cange Campus of the Episcopal Church and the hospital run by Zanmi Lansante/Partners in Health
I am still very sorry I never got to go shopping here! I hear the art for sale is really wonderful, and I've seen some of the iron work produced in the area. For example, in the pictures of the church interior, look at the crucifix on the back wall.

Right now, however, I would like to focus on two amazing parts of the Palm Sunday liturgy. Palm Sunday is the anniversary of their founding, so they always have a special thanksgiving as part of the service – and do they know how to give thanks! And, so very Episcopalian of them, they can process. The Palm Sunday procession with the palms and the offertory procession were like nothing I have ever seen.

lining up in the yard behind the church

The Liturgy of the Palms began behind the church. Multiple choirs and a band, acolytes galore, parishioners, clergy, sisters, visitors – any who wanted to participate gathered for the blessing of the palms. Led by the cross and the thurifer swinging the thurible with sweet-smelling incense, band playing and choirs singing, we headed down the long, curving driveway and down the hill.

 I was toward the back with the clergy, so by the time we reached the highway, traffic had long since been stopped we all processed down the street. Mind you, this is the main north-south highway in the area, not a side street. People were standing on rooftops and hanging out windows to watch.

When we reached the other entrance to the campus, we turned back in and headed back up the hill and around into the church, where, unsurprisingly, the enthusiastic singing inside didn’t quite match the place in the music of the energetic band and singing outside. Some issues never change from church to church or from country to country. I felt right at home. And a joyful noise was made to the Lord.

Then there was the offertory. I don’t even know how to begin to describe it. I’ve gotten accustomed to beautiful offertory processions on patronal festivals, but this was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Not only was it beautiful and colorful, with the offerings slowly danced up the aisle, usually on baskets carried on the heads of the parishioners, but also it was incredibly varied – and it just kept coming.

First of all, the offerings themselves. I have seen the beautiful baskets of vegetables and fruit, and this was no exception – except there were baskets of all sizes, some so large it was hard to imagine their being carried. This is a real example of people giving of their life and labor in a tangible way. An entire stalk of green bananas – or maybe plaintains – arrived on the head of a man who made everyone laugh with his dance (most of which I couldn’t see). These offerings were mostly handed off to the acolytes in the front by the altar and taken to the sacristy. Flower arrangements were placed at the foot of the altar.

My first surprise was a series of items that were completely practical and nothing I had seen in a procession before. These, too, were laid at the foot of the altar as something that could be immediately of use to the church. Items I noticed included packages of copy paper, a mop, and a large jug of Clorox (essential in these days of cholera). I was impressed.

live turkey and chicken in offering baskets

Then there was the livestock. In the baskets along with the vegetables were quite a number of chickens. Live chickens. Afterwards in the sacristy, some of them were still sitting in their baskets on top of the vegetables. Others may have come up separately (I couldn’t see everything), as I saw a few handed off from acolyte to acolyte, wings flapping.

escaped chicken exploring the altar area

One got loose and proceeded to walk around clucking in front of the altar until someone noticed and scooped it up. There was a good-sized turkey as well. But what really astonished me was the goat, who was remarkably calm, all things considered.

live goat in offering basket
very calm, don't ask me how

I lost all sense of (American-mannered) propriety and began taking photos, something I would never do at home – but I was so far from being the only one. I did ask first, just in case. Most, including the clergy, were on their feet, craning their necks, laughing, admiring, enjoying the music, the thanksgiving and the praise. Picture-taking here is not often considered inappropriate in such circumstances, and even one of the other priests had a camera phone in use.

preparing the elements using wine brought up

Of course, there were the usual offerings as well, both the special offerings collected elsewhere in honor of the occasion and brought up in decorated boxes, and the plates that were passed.

offerings in decorated boxes

Later that day, I was remarking to a sister what an amazing offering that was, and I said, “… and it must have lasted at least twenty minutes!” She stared at me. “Twenty minutes??? Sister, it was an hour!” Time flies when you’re having fun, I hear. I shouldn’t be surprised. The 9AM service, which started around 9:30, lasted until around 1:30. Even with the procession down the highway, the time had to have gone somewhere. It certainly didn’t seem that long; I would have guessed two hours.

the clergy afterwards

So what happened to all those offerings?

offerings being sold behind the church

After the service, what usually happens is that the produce and animals are sold out back and the proceeds are given to the church. There was so much to sell that I actually saw the sale in progress.

Looks like we'll be bringing home some shopping, too. Easter dinner?

On the way out, we picked up two seminarians who were waiting for a taptap back to Port-au-Prince. Remember the live turkey I mentioned? He had been bought after the service and was already settled in the back of our vehicle, where we have fold-down benches.

traveling companion

The seminarians rode back with him, and there was no pecking.

Thanksgiving abounded.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

As long as I am posting and have found this, I'm going to add some of the pictures I took on the road on the way there and home.

Welcome to Mirebalais
This is the town where Partners in Health now has a second, much larger hospital, state of the art. What an amazing ministry that is. By the way, there is a link to donate to them off on the right side of my blog.

Not too many of these houses anymore, but they're still around.

Holy Week Myers-Briggs

Found something awesome at

Church of the Resurrection - Holy Week Myers-Briggs

If you don't know your type, they also have a link to an online test.

A bit more seriously, they also remind us that Holy Week is "time outside of time."

Indeed it is.

May we all make space and time to enter this "time outside of time" in such a way as to live this week fully, open to whatever God has in store for us, ready to walk this road with Jesus.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

cold afternoon

 So I planned to go birding on my sabbath (day of rest/free day) today.  Then it was very, very cold. (Wind chill advisory tonight, yet again.) And I have a cold. So maybe not.

It's c-c-cold today and more so tomorrow, but it was a little warmer this weekend and some of it melted. Look, you can see the arms on one of our benches now!

So I decided to go birding by car, bundled up, with hot coffee and binoculars. However, all my intended stay-in-the-car spots either had no parking (piles of snow!), were impassible or nearly so, or, in one case, had a front-end loader plowing out the area where I'd intended to go. I don't argue with such machinery. 

So, first real stop, the little pond just past the entrance of the Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary.

Daniel Webster Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary, Marshfield

Cool, it's sort of shoveled.

OK, maybe not so much. This wooden thing at foot level is the top of the brochure box.

Nice birds at the feeder, though, including this little Tufted Titmouse; the Downy at the top was nearby. Juncos, of course, but also a bunch of Red-winged Blackbirds that flew off when I arrived.

 So I waded to the pond.

What was I thinking? Of course it was frozen over.  No ducks, but there was an interesting accidental sculpture sticking out of it. I'd admired it before, but it's rather more striking in the snow.

Waded on out. Glad part of the trail was well packed by many people with snowshoes. Maybe I could make my own. Tupperware and duct tape? (-:

 On to Marshfield, near Brant Rock. They, at least, have parking right by the water.

This Herring Gull walked toward my car instead of away from it.

Finally, some ducks! White-winged Scoters, Buffleheads, Goldeneyes, and Red-breasted Mergansers. I love Mergansers. They look so 80's punk.  

Couldn't get a decent pictures of the Mergansers, but I'm putting one in anyway just because I love them. 

Look, Ma, I caught a crab!

cold huddled-up Herring Gull looks grumpy

Moved on to the inner harbor near the Marshfield Harbormaster hut.

Happy Days

More ducks. Happy days, indeed!

The gulls thought it was too cold for fishing, too.

Time to head on home. One more try at the Duxbury Harbormaster's dock. I admired the snow mountains created by the front-end loader and wondered if we should start our own ski resort right here in town.

Ducks! Not many, but a few Eiders right by the dock; mergansers not too far away, either.

icy, icy bath, but this Eider was still delighted

Home in time to see the sun set over the Chapel.

And to all a good night.