September 6, 2019: An Irrepressible Spirit at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

From Fr. Steven

Despite the impression I might have given on Facebook, I did not spend most of my vacation sailing on lakes or reading in Adirondack chairs or dozing off in hammocks (although that last activity is definitely a favorite).

To my surprise (and to the surprise of my wife), I spent a lot of time "clearing land"--that is, cutting down small trees and saplings with a hand-saw and pruning shears, and digging stones out of the hard northern Vermont soil with a shovel and carting them away in a wagon.

Because if you have ever spent time in Vermont, you will know that the forest is irrepressible. A newly-cleared hiking trail or liberated row of raspberry bushes or a well-manicured lawn or a productive acre of farmland, in just a few years, without determined effort, will be overgrown with weeds and thick saplings and impenetrable branches and, in our case, seemingly endless black cherry trees.

In the late 1800s, 80% of Vermont had been deforested through aggressive logging efforts. Today, the Green Mountain State is almost 80% forest again, partly through active conservation efforts, and partly through the passive inactivity of private landowners.

Which is a good metaphor for God's presence in our lives. That no matter how much we might actively resist or passively ignore God, God's presence in our lives is irrepressible and persistent, like the growth of a Vermont forest.

Our task, then, is not to worry about how to defend our faith or our God in a culture that grows increasingly, and more aggressively, secular. Let God deal with growing the trees. Our task is much simpler (not necessarily easier): to open our eyes to see the forest around us, and then to help others see it too.

The Rev. Steven Lee

St. Francis Day 2019: Update

The Dean has determined that, due to the clean up from our Palm Sunday fire, the usual scope of the St. Francis Day service will be downsized this year. We’ll still have an 11 am Eucharist on October 6 that all are welcome to attend.

While we will not have our Procession of Animals, pet blessings will happen as usual on the Pulpit Green immediately following the 11 am service and our outdoor fair with food trucks, vendors, and more will be there for all to enjoy.

From Marsha and Tim

Homecoming and Potluck Sunday, September 15 in the Cathedral nave, 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.

Come and reconnect. Greet old friends and meet new members. It would be lovely if you could bring a dish to share. Such items as hummus with crudités, chips and salsa, cheese and crackers, slice hard salami, salads (green, pasta, etc.) with vinaigrette dressings, no mayonnaise please, well done quiche, fruit, cakes, cookies--nothing that has to be heated. Bring your contribution to the tables that will be set up in the nave before the 11:00 a.m. service. You may stop by the Welcome Table right near the coffee set up before or after services to let us know what you will bring or contact the wardens ( Our usual Second Sunday fellowship lunch will resume in October.

Saturday, September 7, Cathedral nave: Introduction to Unburdening - learning and using contemplative meditation in today’s distracted world

This six session series led by congregation member Mark Dilcom is designed for the person who wants to learn about the ancient tradition of contemplation used in all major faith traditions, to build a deeper relationship with the Divine, explore one’s innate spirituality, and sense life’s flow all around them. There will be an introduction session on September 7 at 10:00 am at the Cathedral. For those who cannot attend in person, this session will be available via video and phone conference. All are welcome to learn more on Saturday the 7th at 10:00 am. Go to and click on the link “Join Video Conference”. People can also dial in to listen. Instructions found on the page. Each session will feature gentle body movement, silent meditation, discussion, and practicing some of the prayer forms that respect each participant’s faith and beliefs. There will be light snacks and drinks afterward. After the introductory session on the 7th, sessions will meet on the second and third Saturdays of September 14/21, October 12/19, and November 9/16.

Congregation Retreat at Holy Cross Monastery October 25 – 27. Sign up by September 30

The Congregation has been sponsoring retreats at Holy Cross monastery ( for at least 20 years. These small group (15 people) events are a wonderful chance to be quiet and lay aside responsibility for a few days. The retreats are structured around the monks’ daily offices which are chanted in their chapel. All are welcome to join the brothers in these meditative sessions. Between the offices, the retreat group meets in a comfortable room and is led in conversation and prayer by the retreat leader. This fall retreat is led by Jennifer Allen, our seminarian intern at the Cathedral. She has chosen Visio Divina as her topic—contemplation through visual arts and images. More information at the welcoming table or email

An Exciting music opportunity for children, grades 5 – 9

Cathedral Music Director Kent Tritle writes: “Dear Parents,

“We are beginning a new Children’s Choir at the Cathedral of St John the Divine! This musical opportunity is for children in grades 5-9 and will rehearse on Thursdays from 4-5 pm under the direction of Mr. Bryan Zaros, Associate Choirmaster of the Cathedral. This choir will be singing for Cathedral services throughout the school year. THERE IS NO COST TO PARTICIPATE. Whether you are a member of the congregation at the Cathedral or a member of the larger community, we welcome any and all inquiries! To arrange for an audition and for further information please write directly to Mr. Zaros:”

Imagine your child learning about and participating in choral music with some of the finest choral musicians in the City!

Blessings from Tim and Marsha