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Now that I seem to be able to download photos,  here are a couple more…

Photo on the left is of Eilean Donan Castle, just before crossing over into Skye, the photo on right is of Robert and daughter, Lucy,with their dog and cat.  Have stayed with Robert and Linda and will go back to their house this weekend.

Well, we woke to snow this morning!  Beautiful Skye!  Scotland, Europe for that matter, has had a very cold winter with lots of snow.  Like the US.  Have driven all around Skye, done a bit of walking, but not the amount I had hoped due to the weather.  Visited my old stomping grounds in the Cotswolds, visiting with friends.  It always amazes me how one can go years without seeing friends and pick up as though we were never apart.  I haven’t been to church – other than to go in them, say a quick prayer, note their age, but no services.  This has been a holy week for me, but not marked by the accustomed services, rather the beauty of the landscape, the tenderness of people and friendship.

We probably all sang this hymn yesterday (Palm Sunday).  “Ride on! ride on in majesty! In lowly pomp ride on to die; bow thy meek head to mortal pain, then take, O God, thy power and reign.”   Thus began Holy Week,  the week that we must enter into in order to come to the fullness of Easter.

Sandy McCann will be leaving today for a remote village  with no electricity.  She will be there all of Holy Week.  She will preach and teach and take communion to lepers in the community.  Please pray for her safety and security as she will stay in a small room in the leper hospital.  Unfortunately her husband, Martin cannot go with her as he has to attend a conference in Dar es Salaam. 

At a clergy Quiet Day led by Bishop Marble this past Saturday he spoke of the awesome privilege and the awesome responsibility of being ordained.  Sandy and I agreed (via e-mail) that she being mostly a fund-raiser and I no longer serving a parish sometime forget that we are indeed ordained and sometimes we forget the “awesome responsibility.”  She will recapture that this week or at least she hopes to.  I will preach on  Maundy Thursday holding onto one of my “awesome responsibilities” to “interpret to the Church the needs, concerns and hopes of the world.”

There were 450 people at the Palm Sunday service in the village where Sandy preached yesterday.  The offering was 67,000 Tanzanian Shillings or $50.00 and 30,000 of that was from Sandy, Martin and Magi, a missionary from Georgia who works for the Bishop.   This is how pitifully poor the people are.  

I don’t know why God has put me in this place with these people but as Bishop Marble reminded us it is an awesome privilege.  I have no home parish but Jessie encourages me by saying that my church is now much larger.   Claude and I worship with the  good people of St. Thomas’ in Sanford, with the good people of St. Mary Magdalene’s in Seven Lakes and Jessie and I worship with the good people of Africa in Tanzania. 

Jessie will go through Holy Week in the Highlands of Scotland, lapping up God’s majestic scenery.  It is cold and dreary there she writes with snow on the mountains, but the pubs have roaring fires and she is recording all of this on her camera.  She can barely wait to get home to paint. 

I’ll be a roving deacon, sort of a “circuit rider.”  Wherever  you are, I will remember you as you too make this remembrance journey with Jesus.

“O Christ, thy triumphs now begin o’re captive death and conquered sin.”

Always with love and blessings,

Tally

I know, this is a Holy Week hymn, one sung on Good Friday but it was sung yesterday at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sanford where Claude and I worshipped.  It’s one of those hymns that goes not to the heart but through the heart like a dagger: “Who was the guilty?  Who brought this upon thee?  Alas, my treason, Jesus hath undone thee.  ‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee: I crucified thee.” 

If you are an Episcopalian and I suspect most of you are, we all heard the story of Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus’ feet with oil made with spikenard, a costly spice used to perfume oils.  Nard then was a fragrant ointment derived from the plant, produced in the Himalayas and sealed in clay or alabaster bottles.  The container was broken and its expensive contents were used to anoint a guest or a person being honored.  In other words, it was something of value, something not used or given away lightly.  Mary would have paid a lot of money for it, money that was probably in short supply.  Judas, the snake, complained that it should have been sold and the money given to the poor.  We know he cared not a tiddle for the poor but that he was a thief among other things and would think nothing of stealing from the common purse.

If the hymn was not enough, Fr. Craig Lister asked us a question that has me awake at 2:30 in the morning.  What of value did we have that we would gladly give away.  He wasn’t referring to our health, or our families but something material, something cherished like a family heirloom, or an antique that had been in the family for generations or even a special piece of jewelry.  I  have none of those things but if  you remember I wrote on the blog several weeks ago that  I would try to save  my 5 paintings done by Jessie Mackay should we have a fire, of course after  getting Claude and James out.    The paintings  are of value but that would not be my reason;  their vibrancy, subjects and color light up my life and bring  joy to my soul.   One is never alone when one is surrounded by art.   In other words: they are life-giving to me.  So now I am caught in an uncomfortable place.  Someone wrote me just last week that she wanted to sell her home in the mountains of North Carolina so she would have more money to give away.  I’ve said that I wished I had more money just so I could give it away and now I find myself with valuable, expensive paintings that I don’t want to sell in order to give to my poor poor friends in Tanzania.  I feel like the rich young ruler who turned away from Jesus when he was told to sell all he had and follow Him.   I who have never considered myself materialistic find myself just that.  Jesus won’t make me sell those paintings, he will continue to love me just the same, but still that question has caused me grief and loss of sleep.  I think nothing we do is enough for what was done for us.  We approach Palm Sunday and Holy Week.  To think I wondered what it would be like for me this year.  I’ve already found out.  “Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee, I do adore thee…….”

It’s been awhile since I have updated our blog.  I am so proud of Jessie for learning how to add music to our offerings with her new Mac.   And I am glad that you have had an opportunity to see and HEAR the fiddler who came to our door selling his wares.  Emmanuel’s choir will be offering the Rutter Requiem as an Evensong this coming Sunday.  It will be quite different from the music that you heard from the African choir.  That particular village church had several choirs ~ a womens’ choir, a children’s choir and the one on the video.  Life is unbelievably hard there but they continue to sing, dance and trust God.

Jessie and I have our airliine tickets for our return to Tanzania in July.  This will be my 4th trip to Africa since 2007.  I am reminded by Barbara Crafton that God has given me a new life, one away from the walls of a church.  News from Msalato Theological College is troubling and sad and we go knowing that we cannot do great things but small things with great love to quote Mother Teresa.  There is a possibility that the college will no longer provide food service for the students ~ they will be responsible for their own food and they have no money.  Sandy says many came back this semester f rom their villages thin as rails.  How can they learn on empty stomachs?  We are working on a grant request to help out with the food situation or should I say the lack of food?  My heart breaks every day for Africa.

The bishop of Central Tanganyika will visit us from April 6-9 enroute to Canada.  His name is Mdimi Mhogolo, such a musical name, and we were guests in his home this past summer.  I asked my bishop in Virginia, David Jones what to do with a visiting African bishop.  “You may do his laundry” said David.  It is amazing that Bishop Mhogolo has stayed in David’s home in Virginia and now he will be in mine.  It can’t just be coincidence. 

I had the pleasure of going to a writing workshop last weekend in Valle Crucis.  I felt a bit out of place as many were published writers including the facilitator, Katerina Whitley.  She is a very compelling person ~ a writer of note, has written for the Christian Science Monitor and has been a church journalist for 20 years.  I bought one of her books:  “Walking the Way of Sorrows.”  I’ve read many books on the Stations and never thought any would touch me as much as Michel Quoist ‘s “Prayers” but Katerina’s are  deeply moving monologues from those along the way of the Cross ~ Jesus’ mother, Simon of  Cyrene, Veronica and all the others who witnessed and followed behind that horrible scene.  If any of you are seeking something special for Holy Week I highly recommend this little but heart-cracking book.  It is published by Morehouse.  I’ve actually walked the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem but even that did not reach me as much as these writings and meditations. 

Please keep our African friends in your hearts and in your prayers.

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