Tag Archives: Instagram

Feeling Like An Imposter

Most Sunday mornings, I spend an hour or so in church sitting on an oversized chair, a chair upholstered in sage green velvet .

When I’m perched to preach on that pulpit chair, I’m usually thinking, often obsessing, about the text and the topic I’ve chosen for the morning. Will the sermon I’m about to deliver be worth the time of those who listen?

But yesterday I was not in Hancock. I was not even in church. I was sitting in a different sort of oversized chair. One upholstered in pleather in an express spa/nail salon at the Philadelphia airport. No lofty thoughts yesterday morning. Just a slight obsession about which nail polish to choose and whether Miami Beet will be the color I want to see when I look down at my feet.

I expect to be looking at my feet a lot this next week. Like many people, I study the ground when I feel intimidated.

What put me in the Philly airport on a Sunday morning was a long layover on my way to Minnesota. I am spending this week at the Collegeville Institute on the campus of St. John’s University, in a workshop that is part of the Ecclesial Literature Project.

I feel like an imposter. Don’t tell anyone here, but I don’t actually know what “ecclesial literature” is. Never mind being able to produce it. I have read the writing samples of the other 11 men and women selected to participate and I am certain that they let me in by mistake.  I feel the same way I did when I was a pre-teen and got my first phone call about a paying babysitting job. Thrilled to be asked, but terrified that when I showed up the couple would realize they had called the wrong girl and would decide not to go out after all.

So this is a week about moving out of my comfort zone. And going where God leads me. And knowing that even if my writing is ragged, my cuticles aren’t.

Spending Their Apron Money Well

I bought some vintage apron patterns at the yard sale we had in the Vestry last month. It’s not that I really plan to make any of these aprons. It was a pure nostalgia buy. My mother kept an apron drawer in her kitchen and she had a similar assortment of pretty, but largely useless aprons. Aprons that didn’t cover up the places you were most likely to spill or splatter on. Aprons that worked best as domestic costuming.

I have been thinking about aprons this week, because while looking for materials for an upcoming event we are hosting with the Hancock Historical Society and the New Hampshire Association for the Blind, I came across the minutes of the Ladies Sewing Circle from 1900-1913.

I’m a sucker for beautiful penmanship and find old minutes oddly compelling. What I learned is that the ladies of the Hancock Church made and sold aprons. Lots of aprons. A typical sale might bring in $45.00. Run that figure through an inflation calculator and in today’s currency that works out to be over a thousand dollars in apron proceeds. We may see that as a quaint accomplishment, but these were women who weren’t allowed to vote yet, women who had access only to whispered methods of contraception, and women who lived in a town with a population of about 600 . They must have have been marketing geniuses to raise that kind of money. Exclusively from aprons. Before Etsy.

But what got to me was not the apron entrepreneurs’ bottom line, but how they chose to spend some of the proceeds.

Minutes from March 20, 1913

Maybe you can make it out in the photo. If not, this is what it says:

Special committee reported the purchase of four dozen oranges and one dozen lemons for cases of sickness in town.

You’ve got to love a group of women who decide that what their town needs is a shared stash of lemons and oranges. What binds me to these women across the years is not apron patterns or hours spent in the same brick Vestry or a penchant for Vitamin C. What we share is a faith and a Gospel that makes it our obligation to do what we can for those who are without. In 1913, that meant stitching for citrus. Ladies, I’d say you spent your apron money well.

Instagram’s Grandmother

Hancock Meetinghouse and Horsesheds from the Norway Plains Cemetery

One of the perks of my job is that I get to hear people talk about their families. Over time, you get to follow life as it is unfolding not just for your own parishioners, but also the people they care about. You hear a lot of stories about grandchildren.

One person who always had good grandchildren stories was . I’m thinking about Betty today on what would have been her 87th birthday. When I visited with Betty, she frequently would talk about her grandchildren. I saw pictures of their vacations on the Cape, drawings they made, presents they sent her. Sometimes she would mention a project that her grandson Kevin was working on at school.

As it turns out, Kevin’s “project” was Instagram. Yep, that Kevin (maybe you saw him in a commercial aired during the Superbowl?) and that Instagram . Let’s just call it an entrepreneurial fairy tale—invent something really cool, sell it for a ton of money, and do it while you are still in your twenties.

If you aren’t sure what Instagram is, it’s an application for iPhones and now Androids, where you can take a picture with your phone and then instantly try out a whole range of filters that will transform the look and feel of your photo. Even mediocre photos can be made to look pretty darned good. Then the application makes it easy to send, post and share your photos right from your phone.

Part of the charm of Instagram is that it uses a square format—just like an old Polaroid photo. And that’s where Instagram hooked me—even before I knew of the connection to Betty and her grandson.

Hancock Meetinghouse Steeple

Call me a member of the Polaroid Generation. My father loved his Polaroid camera and I still remember the smell of those little pink sponges of fixer he used to keep in his pocket. Both of my children were born in Norwich, Connecticut where one of the favorite sons (right up there along with Benedict Arnold) was Edwin H. Land, inventor of the Polaroid process. I admit I was a little sad when I drove by the old Polaroid building on Rte. 128 outside of Boston a few weeks ago and saw that it was being demolished.

All of which is to say that, going way back, I have a soft spot for all things Polaroid. I am grateful to Betty’s grandson for putting that retro-look, square photo format back in my hands.

Some people do amazing things with Instagram and have elevated it to a real art form. I just use it for fun with lesser results.  But in honor of Betty’s birthday, I’m posting are a few Instagrams of a place she loved, a place she served, and a place where she is remembered with deep fondness.

Hancock Church Vestry from the Bandstand