Our uncle Joel Wysong is the brother of Sr. Marjorie Raphael, a sister of the Episcopal religious community the Sisters of Saint Margaret. Sr. Marjorie, known as Dodgie in the family, is now retired but spent most of her life in two pursuits: a mission of presence and service with her sisters in Haiti, and painting. The mission life took up more time, of course--34 years. But having come from a family full of sculptors and painters, and studying with a famous muralist before she entered the convent, Sr. Marjorie found occasional time, she said, "to paint Haiti's beautiful mountains and seashore." She also spent three weeks in 1989 in British Columbia, painting with her blood sister Becca, and took holidays every year in the western Catskills. Everywhere, she painted. Her pictures covered the walls in the Haiti mission.
When the mission collapsed in the Haiti earthquake of 2010, the paintings fell with the building. But everyone on the premises was ok. And the paintings were rescued from the wreckage and flown to the motherhouse near Boston for restoration.
Right now and til the end of February, Sr. Marjorie's paintings are on exhibit in the Helen Bumpus Gallery in Roxbury. There have been a number of articles about the exhibit. Other events included Sr. Marjorie speaking about her work at a recent memorial for the second anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, and a reception that was cancelled due to snow but still gathered lots of family to celebrate. Both Joel and our aunt Laura Wysong have been working steadily with Dodgie to make all this happen. And it's not over: there could be a memoir ...
The painting above, Joel writes, is in the Catskills, in the locale of the first house he built, while in college. I liked this line from Dodgie's journal of that 1989 painting trip with her sister: "Becca and I spend some time each day looking at our paintings. This is practical for we figure out what is not clear or where the message is not readable. But it is also spiritual ... It is a time of being in touch with the particularity that is myself and that is loved by God."