Archive for August, 2016

The Formidable Isabella Gardner

August 31, 2016


          The review in the travel guide of “things to do in Boston” suggests that if given two days, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is a must. If, however, you only have two hours, then the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is the stop. Little is known about the palace that stands across from the MOFA,  outside of the inner circle of arts, but with a strong cult following, this museum has something for everyone.                                                                               This counter-institution provides one with an intriguing look into the life of the  “queen” of Boston’s Fenns of 1902.  The palace, operating as a museum since the beginning of the 20th century,  is dark, dank, and stuffed with clutter. There is not a naked wall, a cleaned desktop or empty corner to be found throughout the hallowed halls.
          The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s preeminent collection contains more than 2,500 paintings, sculptures, tapestries, furniture, manuscripts, rare books and decorative arts. It also offers classes for adults and students, community events, walks through expansive gardens and performances in the Calderwood Hall.
          Intrigue surrounds the museum as in the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, a pair of thieves disguised as Boston police officers entered the Gardner Museum and stole thirteen works of art.

          Thieves  gained access into the Museum by posing as Boston police officers and stating that they were responding to a call. The guard on duty broke protocol and allowed them entry through the Museum’s security door.

Once inside, the thieves asked that the guard come around from behind the desk, claiming that they recognized him and that there was a warrant out for his arrest. The guard walked away from the desk and away from the only alarm button. The guard was told to summon the other guard on duty to the security desk, which he did. The thieves then handcuffed both guards and took them into the basement where they were secured to pipes and their hands, feet, and heads duct taped. The two guards were placed 40 yards away from each other in the basement.

The next morning, the security guard arriving to relieve the two night guards discovered that the Museum had been robbed and notified the police and director Anne Hawley.

The stolen works include: Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee and A Lady and Gentleman in Black both from 1633 as well as and a Self Portrait from 1634. Only a blank wall remains where the most valuable stolen work of art, Vermeer’s The Concert (1658–1660) hung.

          In 1919, Isabella Stewart Gardner suffered the first of a series of strokes and died five years later, on July 17, 1924. Her will created an endowment of $1 million and outlined stipulations for the support of the museum, including that the permanent collection not be altered.

Senior Center Takes a Chance

August 25, 2016

sharing-life-logo On Wednesday, August 24th the Costa Mesa Senior Center took a chance on love and guess what happened? Love won over our hearts! Perhaps the Costa Mesa Senior Center staff gambled when they decided to host a screening of the 2014 film “The Age of Love.” However, I would say this successful event was a turning point for the Center.

More than 100 men and women of all ages were on hand not only to be entertained but to participate in a live discussion with the acclaimed filmmaker and screenwriter, Steven Loring. For Mr. Loring the making of this film was personal. Before the documentary aired (live via broadcast), he shared with the audience that the sudden death of his father at 70 which left his mother alone and lonely launched his quest to find answers about love for older adults.

“The Age of Love” took us on a journey with 30 seniors from 70 to 90 who signed up for speed dating. Sharing the onscreen experiences and the touching moments of fear and happiness, the audience laughed and sighed aloud. We heard what we already knew to be true in our hearts that aging isn’t kind but there is life after loss. Personally, I was touched as I watched from a back row as heads nodded when one participant said, “aren’t we all in search of companionship, friendship and someone to share experiences with?” (And, by the way this is just what the senior center succeeded in providing)!

After the film, Mr. Loring returned for Q & A. The comment by a 25 year old women in the audience summed up this great event, ” this documentary was real, moving with a message of love for all ages. I am glad I came to the senior center.”

…And so am I. Great job Costa Mesa Senior Center for raising bar!

Does secularism trump church?

August 21, 2016



While on vacation, a podcast of Pastor Molly Baskette’s sermon,  Why I Need Church More than It Needs Me, really grabbed my attention. Here I was having a wonderful time in a spot where everyone is polite and more than that… kind. I was feeling at peace.  Not a church for miles, I figured I didn’t need one. Maybe my heart was full because of the ever-present beauty of mountains, rivers, and forests. I was surrounded by God’s presence. Could it be that nature is where secularism trumps church?  

I found it a whole lot easier to live a clean life, a good life without stress and distractions of the media and commitments in God’s creative space.  How much easier it is to awaken with a calmness without distractions. Unstructured time turned out to be a true blessing. I wasn’t rushing out the door for commitments, facing the morning traffic or having to respond to dozens of messages.

Home, less than 24 hours — and as Sunday approached, I felt a longing in my heart for my church family. What a difference it makes when I have “the full weight and positive inertia of other Christians trying to be better people around me. Church is the scaffolding around the weak structure of my character, ” Pastor Molly’s words resonated.

Former Pastor and peace activist, William Sloane Coffin, Jr., reminds us that the church is a crutch. How can that be?  Because don’t all of us walk with a limp?

I will take that crutch. As a Christian,  I will stretch out my hand to another and say:  “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that God may teach us God’s ways and that we may walk in God’s paths.” – Micah 4:2