Post written by Bridget Morton, Seasonal Island Director. Pictures by Ella MacVeagh, assistant cook.
Recently, I greeted a member of the Pen Bay Stewards to Hurricane Island, just as he stepped of the boat. He gazed at spruce trees overhead and eyed great blocks of granite. Eventually he spoke: “You can feel the spirituality here.”
Yes. You can. From its craggy shores to the highest trees, Hurricane sings sustaining joy to anyone who takes the time to listen. For some of us, the island seems to have a soul, a soul that informs and supports our small community, so dedicated to scientific learning and growth.
One little pocket of peace is the island churchyard. Consecrated as holy ground by a Catholic bishop in quarrying days, it was shared by Hurricane’s Catholics at the turn of the twentieth century, and for a while there were multiple services every Sunday in that island church. Sometimes, heading up to the ice pond or the garden, I imagine quarrymen, their wives and children, walking, on their only day of rest, up the same path to pray. During Outward Bound’s summers on the island, sweet weddings and christenings were held inside that small, grassy rectangle; every Sunday, rain or shine, the entire community migrated to the churchyard for morning meeting. Perhaps the first Sunday I spent on Hurricane Island, 45 years ago, my watchmate Chicky played ‘Morning Has Broken’ on her flute, while the rest of us listened rapt, rain dripping from our yellow slickers. Today only the granite foundation and a small altar remain.
I headed up that hill on a Friday evening in May with the students of Cambridge School of Weston. These nine young women and their chaperones had already brought energy and delight to their marine science studies here on Hurricane. That Friday evening they held a Shabbat, possibly the first ever, in Hurricane’s churchyard. A couple of the teenagers explained for the rest us this ritual of their faith. They lit two tiny candles and invited us to wave in smoke and then hide our eyes from the light. They led us in song, broke bread, shared water from a plastic bottle. They wanted us to understand that we were praying for peace, for community. They said we had prayed shalom and salaam in a single prayer, prayed for peace in Hebrew and Arabic. Everyone was smiling, laughing, singing. I caught the joy in the girls’ faces and felt it mirrored in my own. And I remembered Meister Eckhart, the medieval German mystic’s reminder, “If the only prayer you ever said in your entire life was Thank You, that would be enough.”
Yes. Thank you, CSW! Thank you, sweet Hurricane! Today, that is enough. And the waves whisper: Amen.