I found,

Without desiring to find

That without Covid-infection

One can be, will be, pandemic-changed

Shifted by the very axis

In ways defiant of definition.

So I know, all this time (how much time?) later, that

I move at 3/4 speed by comparison

I speak at 1/2 speed of before

I think on occasion, if at all

And my default setting is new;

Forcibly reset from hope for to

Hope despite; from joy first to

Joy sought; from all’s well to

All shall be well, by God it shall

If we have to swim the length of hell to get there.

Under the patronage of Canterbury

O supreme and unapproachable light! O whole and blessed truth, how far art thou from me, who am so near to thee! How far removed art thou from my vision, though I am so near to thine! Everywhere thou art wholly present, and I see thee not. In thee I move, and in thee I have my being; and I cannot come to thee. Thou art within me, and about me, and I feel thee not.

~ Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109)


Saint Anselm (from

This is Reformation Day, 498 years later.  Luther is reputed to have said (probably inaccurately): “Here I stand, I can do no other.”

This is Halloween, and though I didn’t have an opportunity to provide treats to a group of trick-or-treaters, I have seen some smile-producing photos of friends’ little ones costumed-up for the occasion.

This is the eve of the Octave of Prayer leading up to the national election day, which our Bishop has asked us to keep in all the parishes of the Diocese of Long Island.

And these are the last hours before I officially let go of the responsibility as Dean of Mercer School of Theology, and take up the ministry of parish priest for the Church of Saint Anselm on Long Island.  I spent today in my office at Mercer, packing more stuff than my little auto could carry this evening.  Before those efforts it was fun to cook breakfast for any members of the diocesan stuff who wanted to stop in to the Saint Drogo Refectory at Mercer.  ‘Egg Bake’ and ‘French toast casserole,’ complemented by plenty of bacon, seemed to satisfy the group.  It was fun.

Tonight I am both weary and full of anticipation.  I feel something in common this evening with the ancient Roman god, Janus: “In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus (/ˈnəs/; Latin: Ianus,pronounced [ˈjaː.nus]) is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, doorways,[1]passages, and endings” []. He was depicted as having two faces, one set toward the past and the other toward the future. That visual expresses pretty accurately what transition feels like in my life tonight.  Looking both ways it is hard to see clearly, but it is also natural to feel both gratitude for what has been and anticipation for what will be.


A sculpture of the Roman god, Janus, found in the Vatican Museum [wikipedia].

There is another reason why I might feel a camaraderie this night with this ancient heady Roman.  For five years of my life I lived in Rome on the hill named after him, the Gianicolo.

Where do I face now?  This, I think, is the night for letting go, or at least beginning to do so. Tomorrow will be the day for beginning to get my head and arms and heart around a new place, new community, same Gospel, same priesthood, same faith, a different part of the same mission.  There is time, and indeed need, for looking both ways – backward and ahead.

So tonight, as I sit at the table in the dining room of the rectory at Shoreham, it doesn’t any more, already, seem strange to be here.  I stayed overnight here a couple of nights last week. Here I move under the explicit patronage of Canterbury.  But what feels not only extraordinary but unbelievable, is the fact that I am not expected tomorrow morning at Mercer School of Theology.  I never claim to get most accomplished that I see as needed and good.  But I do claim to always make a valiant try. And when the moment comes to stop, to let it go, to move on, to leave it to others, it just feels initially . . . bizarre.  Unreal.

So here I am tonight with Janus.  Not a bad place to be with both good memories of the past and good opportunities ahead.   But nonetheless, looking straight into change with eyes in each direction, a disconcerting place.

Giving Thanks and Going On

On Thursday the northern tier of the family near enough to do so gathered at Mom’s home in Hudson, New Hampshire.  The house was built and completed in the year 2000.  Dad was eager to move in.  He came as it was built and took photos of the builders’ progress, even when the home-to-be was only a hole in the ground.  He could see it in his mind’s eye, or perhaps rather in his heart’s hope.

But Dad never lived here.  Two days following his death in August of that year the town granted an occupancy permit.

But for Mom, this has been home now for between fourteen and fifteen years.  Succeeding 75 Eastern Avenue in Lynn, this house on Barbara Lane became the de facto center of the McGinty universe.  Visits, phone calls, holidays have centered here.  Innumerable meals have been prepared and served with love. Summers and winters at special seasons have seen this home house more people than ever it was designed to hold.  It not only held them.  It embraced them.  People of three generations, linked by blood and linked by love. Conversations, debates, loud comments directed toward the television screen during football and baseball contests – all these have happened here more often than could be numbered.

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, we gave thanks – along with all our blessings – for all of this. It was the last holiday here.  Anointed by snow and nourished by two turkeys and several pies, it was last Thanksgiving for us in this place, made sacred by all the events of these past years.

Fragments of so much rise up in heart these days: joys, wonderments, sorrows, moments of warmth and blackouts of cold; the planting of trees and roses; children playing in the grounds around, growing bigger year by year; guests received and loved, until they could come no more; prayer offered from one heart and from a family together; dogs and cats bounding across the house; photos displayed and new photos taken; new photos becoming the old.

All these and more, although I at least cannot retain them all, are together the constant fabric of grace in this place.  They are the moments when you catch the fragrance of God’s loving presence. They are the instants when you swear you hear the constant breath of God.  They are the instants when you know the eye of Jesus looks with love on this place and  its people.  They are the nanoseconds when the passing instant of the Spirit’s wing brushes your cheek.  They are blessings, sacraments pointing gently and constantly to the ‘more’ that life together is.  More than is seen,  More than is expressed,  More than is expected.

This coming Tuesday Mom is moving, with emotion but by her own realization and desire, to the community of God’s own at the Jeanne Jugan Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor.  There new memories will be made, and new friendships,  There old friends will grace the doorway and sit to share stories.  There the Fragrance and Breath and Loving Look and Brushing Wing will be as present as ever.  Because there too we continue to live in the grace that is the presence of God.

Somehow the epicenter of family life will shift again.  I cannot quite see how it will all fit together.  But I know that it will.  Because the fitting is only partially up to us.  There is another Hand and Heart guiding the way.

It remains only – and constantly – to say, thank you.