I’ve spent the past week vacationing in New England. It’s amazing how time away from life in New Jersey, music, work and St. Mary’s causes me to think even more about life in New Jersey, music, work and St. Mary’s. Initially, I planned a simple vacation note such as: “Liturgical notes and Bruce will return next week.” Instead my vacation encounters have left me with an I-phone full of thoughts, ideas and dreams too exciting to defer.
We had just parked our car and were preparing to take our bikes to the carriage path that circles Acadia National Park. Despite having an itinerary in hand we decided to ask a final question of a woman parked next to us. We struck gold. Mary Ann had moved to the area about 35 years ago and often took Gus, her black lab, for walks in the park. Mary Ann offered several tips about the park and answered multiple questions about what it’s like to leave the city and live full-time in such a rugged place.
After about 10 minutes we thanked Mary Ann for taking the time to answer questions she has probably been asked on multiple occasions. Her response was the big take away from our encounter: “In light of what is going on it is important to take the time to be a little kinder to people.”
Bar Harbor Maine is a wonderful family friendly vacation town. During the summer the population swells as part-time residents return, tourists drive in and cruise ships dock for the day. Like many towns there is a shopping/dining district with a village green. The focal point of the green is an old fashioned bandstand.
One evening we were drawn to the green by the sound of a 20 piece brass band. It was a slice of Americana. We joined with people of all ages sitting on benches, lawn-chairs or grass. The music served as a soundtrack for a teenaged girl practicing walking a tight-rope using a band tied between two trees. Most of my attention focused on a 4 year old boy who repeatedly enticed two slightly older girls into a game of chase by running around the band-stand.
On Saturday night we were drawn to the green by the glow of candlelight. A poster board staked into the grass read:
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
It was connected to other poster boards of similar quotes laid out in a circular fashion and connected by a ribbon. I quickly realized it was a labyrinth: a form of meditative prayer with 4th century Celtic roots. The night was planned an implemented by a local chapter of a group called “We are Indivisible.”
The best of the encounters happened on Sunday morning. I/we decided to visit a Bar Harbor Congregational church on Sunday morning.
I am embarrassed to say that I had one big reservation: "I want to hear a real sermon and not some congregation members recap of their mission trip to East Jabib."
Well, I heard a "real sermon"; a really really great sermon. One of the best sermons I've heard in a long time. A sermon so good that I hope you'll take the time and clink the link right now.
The writer and preacher was a priest nor a minister. She is the wife of the pastor of this church; Christy Benson and I thank her for sharing this with me.
What impressed me about these encounters was that they were respectful of those who would disagree. While they challenged actions, policies and statements there was no disrespect of individuals, government officials or the government itself. They were quiet and gentle yet persistent and persuasive like the still small voice that the prophet Elijah recognized as the presence of the Lord. (1 Kings 19:12)
If you are interested in getting involved in the area of social justice or just interested in getting involved at St. Mary’s send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, see a staff member or call the office at (973) 235-1100.
Excited to be back making music at St. Mary’s,
This week’s music
Entrance How Firm a Foundation #714
Offertory Day of Peace #523
Communion We Remember, We Believe in bulletin
Recessional The Church’s One Foundation #418