Spyglass: Week of April 10

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Knowing there’s a minister about can give one a sense of well-being, a certain reassurance that whatever may befall us, we’d essentially be all right. When we’d hear the T.V. turned up loud, the sportscaster’s voice booming through the floorboards at the bookshop, we knew Maggie was enjoying one of her football games. We thought it a peculiar pastime, for such a highly-cultured former actress, painter and food writer, and, yes, minister. But that incongruity made her all the more endearing. As a girl, Maggie had spent many happy hours watching football games with her father. She continued the ritual for decades long after he was gone.

The Reverend Marguerite Lewis, affectionately known as Maggie, who passed away on March 17, was well remembered by many friends in a loving tribute last Friday at the Wainscott Chapel.

A dapper dresser well into her 80s, Maggie lived her long life with spirit, strength and style. She seemed to be continually reinventing herself, one friend remembered. Her many close friends and members of her Religious Science congregation miss her but have learned much from her, and have been transformed by her encouraging words.

For us, it was small things. Her genuine appreciation for our bringing in her mail every day, usually a thick bundle of mail-order catalogues. She’d send down a package of shortbread and tea, or a just-ripe melon, some delicious banana bread, and call us “sugar” in a way that revealed her Southern roots. “The spirit that has brought me this far,” Maggie was fond of saying, “will take me the rest of the way.”

A great spirit of celebration filled the Unitarian Universalist meetinghouse last Sunday afternoon for an historic event as the congregation welcomed its first settled minister, The Reverend Alison Cornish. Alison has been a member of the South Fork Unitarians for 19 years and was ordained four years ago. While some would argue, and scripture warns of the difficulties of being a prophet in your own hometown, Reverend Donald McKinney pointed out that it is U.U. tradition to search within the congregation for its leader.

Still, it is rare that such a search proves as fruitful as it has for the South Fork congregation. “It was long self-evident that this day would come,” Reverend McKinney said having observed Alison’s growing participation over many years in the shared ministry of the congregation.

Representatives from local faith communities including Jewish, Catholic, Buddhist, Lutheran and Unitarian ministers were present. Reverend Cornish’s mother and father traveled from New Hampshire to take part in the ceremony. Her husband, brother-in-law and his partner filled out the family section. Friends, community members, and congregants filled the sanctuary to brimming with support and well wishes.

Alison’s mother Marianne remarked that while she is enormously proud of her daughter’s many accomplishments, she also misses her at home. Acknowledging the many cherished years she’s enjoyed with Alison, “now it’s your turn,” she said to the congregation. And the congregation and community are blessed to have her.

A friend from Maine once said the problem with Long Island is that it’s flat as a pancake. She, an avid hiker and biker, never found enough challenging terrain against which to test her mettle. On Saturday, April 12, Joe Lane will lead a Paumanok Path ramble for those who like a little altitude. The seven-mile hike leaves from the Trout Pond parking lot on Noyac Road at 10 a.m. Hikers will continue through the Long Pond Greenbelt and return around 1 p.m. Joe suggests bringing water, juice or a sports drink. For information, call 725-3942.

Plan now for a trip to the city during the spring school break. The Youth Recreation Program will provide a luxury coach into Manhattan on Wednesday, April 23 for students and families. Adults traveling on their own may also purchase tickets at $25. Student tickets are $20. Families of three or more pay $15. Call Debbie Skinner at 725-5302, ext. 750 for reservations and further information. You may also send an e-mail to: yarddirector@aol.com.

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