STORM UPDATE: A Letter, Then Light!

General Seminary's dean, the Rev. Canon Patrick Malloy, traveled from Chelsea Square to midtown this afternoon in order to send a pastoral letter updating the wider community about life on the close in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. And then, just a moment after he sent it, light! Electricity has returned to Chelsea Square! November 2, 2012

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Lunch today was the last time the residential community will assemble before the weekend. We used the time to bring one another up to date and to plan for the next few days. People c

ontinue to be in stunningly good moods. It is very edifying. Now, don't doubt that we are growing weary in various ways. It's cold in our homes. The simplest tasks demand a lot of work. When the sun sets, we have two choices: the heated reception area or bed. Julia Heard told me at lunch that this is the longest camping trip she's ever been on. Even in that comment, you can see that hardships are not creating hard hearts. People are of good cheer.After lunch, the children put on a puppet show for us in Seabury Auditorium. It was the culmination of all sorts of activities arranged for them today by Professor Robyn Neville and her husband, Damian, along with Michael and Melissa Rau. Professor Amy Lamborn mentioned to me that her daughter, Caroline, is not interested in the option of moving in with friends north of the City until the power is restored. She is having too much fun with the other young people on the Close.

Many people have left, though. At lunch, we estimated that only 25 of us will be on the Close this weekend. The crowd has steadily thinned as people have gone in search of basic creature comforts. One of those who has stayed put is Fr. J. Robert Wright, who now lives in the Chelsea Enclave, the condominium that replaced the old front building. Various ones of us have checked on him every day, and students have taken him meals from the Refectory. He is fine and, like the rest of us, making the best of a bad situation.

ConEd has said that we will have power by midnight tomorrow, Saturday. Some new outlets, however, are claiming that the Mayor promises that it will happen today. As soon as we have lights, I'll let you know. In either case, I cannot imagine that we will not be up and running Monday morning.

The outpouring of kindness and concern has been humbling. On behalf of the Mission Committee at VTS, Professor James Farwell wrote to offer help. (Many of you know Fr. Farwell from his days teaching liturgy at General.) Dean Joseph Britton of Berkeley at Yale has sent us the good wishes of the Council of Deans (of Episcopal seminaries) as well as assuring us of his own prayers. Dr. James Turrell reached out from Sewanee by internet and phone. He assured us that our sisters and brothers there are mindful of us, too. The Episcopal students from Colgate Rochester Divinity School, who take some GTS courses remotely, have been monitoring life on the Close and have let me know that they are thinking of us. We are being well prayed for.

These daily memos I have sent to you I have also posted to Facebook, and others have reposted them on their own FB pages. From all over the country, people have added comments, assuring us of their care and concern. Jeanne Person, who lives in Brooklyn and has not lost power or phone, has fielded many notes and calls for the rest of us. Mother Person has said that a great many people have asked how to help. She forwarded one offer of funds for "supplies or toiletries, a few pizzas, a doesn't matter, as long as it reminds the recipients that they are being surrounded by prayers and caring from afar." How can you beat that? And we are, indeed, aware of how many people are prayerfully mindful of us.

Two weeks ago in my Dean's report to the Trustees, I likened GTS to a patient who has been successfully triaged. The floor is strewn with bloody bandages, though, and the patient is left wondering what just happened. Now begin the days of rehab. As this week has unfolded, I have wondered if the storm has not pushed us forward in the deep healing that we need. The community has been drawn together. We have seen for ourselves how resilient we are and how incredibly generous. Forbearance, creativity, and tenderness have flooded the Close along with the water. That is not to say that we want all this inconvenience to continue. It is only to say that in the midst of it, God seems to have brought forth great good at General Seminary.

As soon as we have power again, I will let you know. In the meantime, please do as I have asked every day and forward this to those who might want to know. Yesterday, it occurred to me that our Bishops may not have been able to reach us, and they may be wondering how we are, especially those of us who are seminarians. Can you please forward this and any of my other memos to diocesan bishops? Thanks.

A good weekend to you all! Thanks for you persistent interest in what is happening here and your many gestures of support.

Fraternally, Patrick+