Notes from Near and Far: Washington

by Cynthia Donnelly

Two weeks ago, in the space of 30 minutes, I talked with two women on the phone. One was elated about all that is happening politically in the USA and the other was horrified.

Each one asked me what I thought. What do I think?

Two quotes come to my mind: the opening sentence of A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” and a quote from the Book of Joshua: Joshua said to the people of Israel, … “Choose this day whom you shall serve ….As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (24:14-15).

Beth and I are responding to the disunity and challenges in the USA by gathering in the chapel at 3 p.m. Monday through Friday to say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and spending an hour in adoration praying for our government and all the American people.

Moreover, during Advent and Christmastime, we gave parties to ease the hearts of our friends. Our St. Nicholas party has become a favorite of everyone, from the ages of 1 to 81.

This year we had to postpone our usual Christmas open house until Epiphany because on Christmas Eve we lost power in the house.

Then on Epiphany Sunday our friends gathered for a celebration and to receive the gifts of the kings (a grace which we write on a slip of paper).

In January, a variety of events occurred: the vacation with us of Michael Huffman of MH Combermere; the three-day visit of Fr. Gregory Mashtaki, our associate priest from Tanzania; the inauguration of President Donald Trump; the visit of Fr. David Linder, MH director general of priests, who came to officially accept as an associate priest, Fr. Rodger Hunter-Hall, who is too ill to travel to Combermere; the visit and poustinia-time of our longtime friend, Bishop Richard Spencer; the appointment of our new pastor, Fr. William Gurnee, who discerned his vocation to the priesthood while making poustinias in this house; the March for Life; and our drop-in-for-coffee at the end of the March, to which forty of our old and new friends from all over the USA, came.

I wonder which event was the most meaningful in the eyes of the Lord.

We are fast approaching the Lenten Spring. This Saturday, Beth will lead a group of our friends in a morning of recollection focused on the Byzantine Rite Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem. These mornings always bring a rich sharing of faith and hope. I am looking forward to saying this prayer during Lent in a way that I have never felt before.

Speaking of spring, now towards the end of February, it is here in D.C.! The robins are waking me up in the morning. The crocuses are blooming, the daffodils are budding, and hope springs eternal!