This was the first Christmas for Wayne and I as a married couple, so for the weeks leading up to it we talked about what we will do to create lasting traditions. Tradition is such a comforting word in an uncertain world, isn’t it? Yet things didn’t happen as we had hoped. The cold I had from last week continues to steal my voice and morphed into a nasty cough, the kind that leaves my ribs aching, so I’ve been consuming lots of cough syrup, lozenges and medicinal teas. Because of that we obviously needed to forgo a Christmas Eve service, something we really had been looking forward to doing, especially after missing church on Sunday. Yet things turned out in ways we couldn’t have anticipated.
Wayne and I are now members of St. David’s in Kennebunk during the off-season of St. Ann’s. We have some dear friends from St. Ann’s who are members and it’s a really good fit for us. Despite the half hour ride early in the very cold morning we enjoy it! I’ve come to realize that when the fit is right, it doesn’t feel like a hassle. Life is too precious, whether it be short or long, to not go someplace every week where we feel uplifted and what we can bring is appreciated.
Today after the early service there was an “alternative gift market” offering handmade treasures from Bethlehem and Haiti!
George H.W. Bush had always simply been a former President to me and Wayne, that is until we became members of St. Ann’s. We’ve had the honor to witness the Bush family as human beings and fellow parishioners, and are moved by how genuinely lovely they are. We had many conversations after that first time we saw them about how we both had been guilty of dehumanizing them over the years if we didn’t agree with decisions they had made as politicians. Seeing them as a close-knit family where former Presidents are loving fathers and grandpas was a teaching moment and humbling. Our hearts and prayers are with the Bush family as they grieve the loss of a wonderful human being, great grandpa, grandpa and father.
In the news: Kennebunkport pays homage to a fellow townsman
Wayne and I had an intimate wedding ceremony at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Kennebunkport followed by a steak and lobster luncheon at The Colony Hotel. We want to share some of our special day with you. (New pics added 9/25!)
This is what we’ll be thinking about while sitting in church in January.
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.