Saturday, June 25, 2016

Dorothy Day, two churches, and one chocolate lab

 Many years ago, when my Handsome Husband was a shaggy youth, he hung out for a time at a Catholic Worker farm in Tivoli, in upstate New York. There, he once briefly met Dorothy Day. He has also remained friends with some folks who knew Dorothy Day, including one who is DD's goddaughter.

So the HH took notice of a news story a year or so ago, when the renovated St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Albany installed eight new icons, including one of Dorothy Day. The icons were written by (that is the correct term to use for icons) the painter and iconographer Christine Simoneau Hales.

I saw a small notice in Friday's Times Union about a program, "Feed My Sheep", to be held at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany. The program was to include organ music and an exhibit of icons written by the Saint Luke's Guild of Iconographers, which just so happens to be led by Christine Hales.
We decided to check it out, after first arranging to visit the other church,  St. Vincent's, near The College of Saint Rose,  to see the icons we already knew a bit about. The gracious Betsy let us in there and gave us a tour.

We both quite liked the icons and thought they were well displayed in the St. Vincent's sanctuary. It was hard to get a good photo of Dorothy Day due to my small camera and the icon's position high on the wall. But this will give you an idea. DD is depicted here as a young woman, holding a copy of The Catholic Worker, the newspaper she founded.

With some time to fill before the evening program, we stopped for a walk in Washington Park.
 A visit to any Civil War monument is usually a Must Do when one is hitched to a writer of Civil War histories.
 Washington Park has some wonderful, huge old trees. I was sad to see that some of them are in trouble.

 The poet Robbie Burns was here, as well. I think that is a copper beech behind him.

 I strolled about the struggling gardens. It is so dry in our area right now. It is beginning to worry me, actually.

Like the plants, I was getting a little thirsty and so I made my way toward a water fountain. As I stood in front of it, a sweet chocolate lab bounced up to me and stood there expectantly, making very direct eye contact.

"Aren't you a pretty thing", I said, and then bent to turn on the water.

And then this happened:

 That's her owners hand as he rushed up to retrieve her. He apologized profusely and assured me that he had just given the dog water out of a bowl.

She's shameless, he said. The dog has learned this trick of begging people for water and now runs off whenever anyone approaches a water fountain. Well, that's a lab for you, clever water-lovers that they are.

No harm done, but I did pass on using that fountain. (I had left a bottle of water in the car and waited to use that instead.)

After some Indian food on Lark Street, the HH and I strolled over to Westminster Church.

 The sanctuary was beautifully set up with the displayed icons and soon we met Christine Hales. We learned that the St. Luke's Guild meets regularly on Monday evenings at this church, to learn the art of praying and writing icons. It is an interdenominational group and you can learn more about them at their Facebook page (St Lukes Guild of Iconography) or at Christine's website: .
 The organist, Alfred V. Fedak, played works mostly composed in the 20th century and encouraged us to quietly stroll about to see the icons and pray or meditate if we so desired.
It was a lovely program but the church was very warm and we had already had a long day. I am afraid we slipped away at intermission. But it is a wonderful thing to know that in these worrisome times, there are still people of faith creating beautiful music and works of art to inspire and to reassure and to teach us all.

Peace be with you.