Written by Father Michael
Picturesque, charming, quaint, are just some the words used to describe the coastal scenery of New England that I visited this summer. Glastonbury Abbey sits on a high rock a mile from Massachusetts Bay, south of Boston, and a few miles from Plymouth Rock. Wild turkeys calmly walked the grounds eating the fruit falling from a tree and not a bit skittish of human predators, who had made their peace with nature now that they have colonized the neighborhood.
The Abbey has seven monks and two postulants and is more threaten by extinction than the wild turkeys. What a lost that would be! The wisdom and serenity of Fr. Gerald that gifted me and my three classmates on our annual retreat was the truest sign of a loving God. Fr. Gerald simple caring and listening to us each of us during the sacrament of reconciliation fitted so closely to our reflections on the life of John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. His words lifted us towards God.
When the retreat ended I traveled four hours north to Camden, Maine to embark on the Schooner Mary Day. Camden is a fishing village and small tourist Mecca. The steeple on the church had a clock and bells that struck EVERY hour, the colonial library and gardens, the boat filled harbor, and shops had a Disney perfect cleanliness and neatness. I had an experience that I observed before in Chicago along Michigan Ave, but there I was only an observer.
As I walked along the main street stretching my neck trying to see all, not caring that I was a gawking tourist delighting in the feast, I espied a couple walking in front of me. They were classically dressed as long time summer residents would be depicted in the movies, elegantly casual. They were about my age and chatting amicably as Fitzgerald’s Gasby characters might pose but with one exception. As they walked down pass the ice cream store without one misstep the gracious lady bent down picked up a soiled napkin and disposed of it without interrupting her pleasant prattle. When I observed this behavior years ago in Chicago I did not have my wits about me to do anything but observe, I was determined not to be so placid this time. The opportunity came when they paused to watch some ducks in a pool. I thanked the lady for her humble act that enhanced my vista and of all that followed me. Her husband chimed in that is why I married her 45 years ago, she has always done that. We had an interesting chat and went on our way.
I am writing this on the feast of St. Martha (of the Martha and Mary fame). This woman was both Martha and Mary. She cleaned and she entertained. How few of us have the gifts to do both! But we all have gifts from God that we must exploit to grow in holiness in love of God. Jesus loved Martha and Mary equally and treated them both with love. God gives us the images of both these women to stress that point, but because of the great love God has for us isn’t it worth a try for us to be both Martha and Mary, even if we fail a little, we may leave our path just a little nicer.