Blessing of the Animals: The Degu Sisters

The Episcopal church commemorates St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of Animals, by offering a blessing to all creatures brought to a service by their caretakers, usually in October. Our summer church, St. Ann’s in Kennebunkport, offers the blessing in July. Luckily for us, the wife of the Rector of our “winter” church, Rev. Sara D’Angio White, is a visiting pastor at an Episcopal church just a mile away from our home.  I asked her if she would like to come to our house and bless our new family members from the Kennebunk shelter after a Sunday service, and she readily agreed! For the week leading up to this morning I let the Degu Sisters know that the “Holy Lady” would soon be coming to honor and bless them. (Someone suggested that we have the Rev. bless only one of the sisters to see if there is a difference in behavior afterward, ha!)

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Simplifying: Only One Blank Check

I’m always working to reduce mental clutter and recently had an opportunity to clear some out!

In the past I’ve spent too much time feeling guilty and inadequate because I had the mistaken belief that I wasn’t doing enough to help others beyond friends and family. Reading the news daily and passively witnessing reported tragedies, seeing good people fall on hard times or lose loved ones to cancer or other horrible circumstances can be so disheartening. But oh! There’s a GoFundMe! Now multiply that by a thousand. Then there are community causes that I’m passionate about, I want to serve in church and also continue my annual donation to the animal shelter. Because of so many great needs, my donations of time or money can feel like pennies thrown in a can no matter how expansive my desire to be of service. Then, having to set limits by not giving to every good and compelling cause has left me feeling powerless and anxious. Worse, I’ve often compared myself to others who have more time, energy or much deeper pockets. Until now.

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Sunday Morning Prayer by George Dawson, 1876

O Lord of life, and Lord of love! Love us into life, and give us life to love Thee. And if the passion of our souls go not out toward Thee, yet let obedience and quiet godliness be ours, until such time as faithful doing shall bring gladsome singing, and thy statutes, which once were but statutes to us, shall “become our songs in the house of our pilgrimage.”

O Lord of boundless life, grant us life enough to put life into all things, that when we travel o’er this part of our life, and it seems but dust and barrenness, we may be of those who hope in Thee. Smite Thou the rock, that water may come. Touch this barrenness, till all things bloom. Touch those of us whose life is barrener than it need be— lacking knowledge and beauty, filled with petty interests and foolish cares, growing no Rose of Sharon, no flowers of God. Lord, forgive us that our life is so poor, and grant us the thoughts of God, that we may be enabled for the time to come to make this very desert blossom as the rose.

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Silent Night, Silent Day?!

That bad cold I mentioned yesterday has now also given me laryngitis. I was so sad that we had to miss church this morning! This is my favorite time of year and because I’m sick I can’t be a part of some important-to-me social opportunities. However, I’m attempting to reframe this in a positive light: In the past when I’ve visited Sister Aline at the Marine Joseph Spiritual Center in Biddeford Pool there have been occasions when there was a silent retreat in progress. Participants wore a little sign the size of a name tag explaining that they are not speaking. So isn’t this great news, that I now have a Christmas silent retreat happening in my home!! (Not so silent sigh). I’m communicating with Wayne via a writing pad and fake sign language I’m making up as I go along.

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Why I Wrote a Letter to Santa Claus Yesterday

When I was little the idea of Santa Claus gave me permission to dream beyond my means and reality. It didn’t matter what was happening in my life, the realities of budgets or whether he would deliver. When I made my list and handed it to my Nana, “Santa’s Helper” as she referred to herself, there was an exciting passage of a few weeks when it seemed that anything was possible.

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What will save you?

I have a genetic predisposition to being at higher risk for skin cancer, so I see a dermatologist for an annual skin exam. I had a mole on my arm that looked different from all of the others and my dermatologist had said we should keep an eye on it. About two weeks ago I noticed that it was changing: it was darker and starting to have uneven borders. What really frightened me was when I happened to notice in a photo of me from 2013 that it wasn’t even on my arm! It’s not normal to grow new moles when you’re over forty.  I called her office to be seen and she agreed that it should be biopsied. 

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