Heather MacKean was born in Toronto, Ontario, in 1953 and raised in the Maritime Provinces in New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island. (L. M. Montgomery, who made Prince Edward Island famous in her Anne of Green Gables series, is Heather’s mother’s third cousin.) When Heather was in high school, she took the city bus 45 minutes each way to attend St. John’s Senior High in St. John, New Brunswick, because the school had an arts program. After high school, she attended York University in Toronto, as a Visual Fine Arts major. Unfortunately, York’s Visual Arts program in the 1970s did not provide much in the way of fine art training, and Heather left without completing the program.
Like most of us these days, I wear my mask any time I expect to be in a setting that may require physical proximity to others.
A long long time ago--last month I think it was--when this mask thing began, I remember thinking there were positive aspects to this. The mask is the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter what we look like underneath. No need to worry if I forgot to apply my lipstick. And wearing a mask makes us a part of the "club" of people who care about each other and ourselves. So out on the street during a walk, or dutifully keeping our distance at a supermarket, we would say hello to each other with a kind of clubby camaraderie.
One of the things I've been doing over the last year when I've been thinking about a particular saint is to spend time on the internet looking at as many different icons of them that I can find. It's like looking at a lot of different pictures of, perhaps, my grandmother. I see different things they've done, what their different relationships with different churches looks like, find out something about their lives. I don't do it often, but it can feel almost like a meditative practice. St. Catherine the Great Martyr is a lovely saint to do that with. So to honor you graduates and scholars among us and in our lives, I wanted to give you a gallery of some beautiful icons of her.
Agape, the Greek word for love. Isn't that what we are celebrating when we go to church? God's love for us, our love for each other, has a lot to do with the community we create when we go to our services.
A lot of that has been out of reach now that our parishes have had to close their doors to us. I admit my family hasn't been streaming services. We've been holding short prayer services, followed by a lectio divina that my husband, my two twenty-year-old children, and a friend who FB Messengers in, and I participate in. It has been a lovely way to get deeper into the texts and gain a sense of conversation with God.
Our churches have been closed, and now that I have been denied Liturgy, I really miss it. How typically contrary of me! So, the Lord has led me to participate in the Liturgy from Elwood City by YouTube. Ironic isn’t it: Once I cannot have something, like a child, now I really want it. However, this distanced Liturgy in my own bedroom, gives me a unique chance to really hear the prayers.
We are re-running this blog post in honor of the Myrrhbearing Women, who are celebrated soon after Easter. They brought their gifts and their desire to serve--even though they had no idea how they were going to manage. Theirs is also the story of supporting one another through great loss and grief--not least if we accept the tradition that Mary the Mother of God was one and that she was accompanied by her sister Salome.
They came because they knew they had to.
They came even though they were afraid.
They came as a group.
They came giving each other courage, and hope, and fortitude.
They came because they knew somebody had to do something.
When I wrote my thesis for my MDiv degree at St. Vladimir’s I chose Holy Friday Vespers: the development of a new service and icon in the 11th13th centuries. At this time of distancing during the Corona virus pandemic, I don’t know whether our churches will be open again, and whether we will be able to attend that most beautiful of Passion Liturgies. So, I thought I would evisit my thesis and write a blog about it.