In 2008 I went to the Dominican Republic for a 5-day meeting as part of a Christian formation task force for the Episcopal Church. Hurricane Gustav had just ravaged the island of Hispañola, leaving a path of destruction of landslides and destroyed homes. Before we flew in, we knew we could take two pieces of luggage for free – but did we need that much baggage for a short visit? Each of us decided to bring a large duffle bag full of disposable diapers as our 2nd bag. The Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic distributed them to churches to then give to families in need.
For the past fifteen-plus years (minus 2020 & 2021) during the month of August, John and I (and often our adult children) have journeyed to new places to experience the breadth and depth of other countries, having spent the first 25 years of our marriage traveling within the United States from coast to coast. It is a privilege to be able to “take off” time and afford these trips; we acknowledge that few people can do such type of travel. These adventures broaden our understanding of the world – geographically, culturally, politically, and environmentally.
One of my favorite moments when my 6-year-old granddaughter comes to visit is bedtime. Besides being tired myself after a long day of active and imaginative play with her, it provides us a moment to settle down into our nighttime routine of choosing some books to read before we snuggle up on “her” bed in our guest room. Praise be, she loves reading and being read to. And she has become quite the critic of children’s books.
Recently I received an advance review copy of Jennifer Grant’s new children’s book Once Upon a Time Not So Long Ago. Reading it ahead of time, I knew what its subject matter was and decided it was an opportunity for Miss M to share her thoughts with me. We began it like we do with all the books before opening the pages; looking at the cover we try to figure out what the book is about. “It’s a boy talking to his grandfather.” “I wonder what they are talking about?”
For many of us, it’s been over a year since we’ve been in our church buildings for any purpose. No indoor gatherings have moved meetings, coffee hours, formation opportunities, and even worship -have all occurred digitally. The pandemic has kept us apart from one another physically in so many ways, especially those of us who live in colder climes who don’t have the space or weather to meet outdoors for worship. As we look to the warmth of spring, more of us armed with our vaccinations and our local map turning from red to orange (will we every see yellow or green?) will be coming out of our hibernation to rise and shine. Easter will take on new meaning; a renewed life in meeting in-person that will be a different/new normal.
Established by a United Nations resolution in 1981, theInternational Day of Peaceis marked every year on September 21. While a day created for nations to highlight efforts to end conflict and promote peace, it can also be a day for individuals, households, and faith communities to mark the occasion. It can be as simple as lighting a candle at noon, sitting in silent meditation, or planting a peace pole on your property. You can also make the day an opportunity to make peace with your own relationships as well as impact the larger conflicts of our time. It can be a day we learn how to be more patient, turn the other cheek, living in community with our neighbors more wholly.
The summer evenings in Connecticut where I live are filled with the sound of “peepers” – tree frogs, cicadas, and other small creatures that permeate the night air. For some not used to the noise it may be just that – noise. But for me it is a cadence of quiet calm. Not silence, but a contemplative hum breaking the darkness outside my open bedroom window.
Last week I was on vacation along the coast of Maine. Our days were filled with the sounds of silence; the crashing of waves and cries of seagulls accompanied us as we climbed the rocks surrounding Pemaquid Lighthouse. The sound of the cast-iron chime hanging from the house down the road, soulfully striking its own rhythm with the night wind, lulled us to sleep.