Daily Reading for February 26 • Emily Malbone Morgan, Prophetic Witness, 1937
“My greatest desire,” Emily Morgan once wrote, “has always been to make tired people rested and happy.” Generosity was one of her outstanding traits. Wherever she traveled, she purchased gifts for friends, relatives, and acquaintances, choosing articles specifically for certain people and so sharing her pleasure in travel with those at home. Her favorite form of giving, however, was in hospitality. She welcomed people to her own house, she established summer homes, and she found special satisfaction in carrying forward the summer programs of the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross. . . . It was thus through hospitality that Emily Morgan found the greatest joy in living—hospitality in the fullest sense. Her consideration for her guests meant that she gave each of them time for renewal and expansion in any way each might please. Yet whenever she was at the houses she stood ready to share her hours, her home, and her heart. She planned for the comfort of each guest with group benefits in mind—though no rules were ever allowed.
Emily Morgan has been termed a romanticist and a sentimentalist. She was neither. Her love of people and her love of life enabled her to detect and reveal the romance and drama in the drabbest people. Her eyes glowed as she talked with others. She perceived in each man, woman, and child the Christ element, the development of personality, and the heroism in the face of life’s difficulties.
Sentimentality in every form she abhorred. Her years of experience in living with four brothers trained her in a direct approach to problems. Her sense of humor gave savor to her existence. Sentiment she had for family associations, respect for tradition and convention as guides, but she disliked conservatism that hampered life or shut out any person or group of persons. Through long years of sharing with others she found fulfillment of her best self, a satisfactory expression of her Christian religion, an opportunity for leadership, and growth in power. Her early diaries show a rebellion against formal religion per se and confusion at the willingness of so-called Christians to overlook the suffering of men, women, and children living in their cities. For several years she struggled against unbelief and lived in an agony of soul. When she had found an opportunity to plan for the happiness of others, she began to know the Christ whom she sought. It was through her obedience to His law “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” that she reached the higher law “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”. . .
Of her Church background, Emily Morgan wrote in 1927: “My mother’s people left England at a time when the Puritans made it too hot for them to stay there. They fled because they were Church of England people who suffered for their allegiance, so I never knew any other tradition. . . . My mother said to me—shortly before she died at the age of eighty: ‘Never forget you belong to a great universal Church moving onward to the City of God. In your own particular branch of it which the title page of the Prayer Book calls “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America,” never belong to a party in it, for it has been my experience, especially with women, if you are partisan, the party becomes the whole Church. If you try to recognize the best in each party and hammer away at that, and try and acquire the fervor of great evangelicals as I have known them, and recognize the integrity and breadth of Broad Churchmen, and accept the sacramental teaching of High Churchmen, you will belong to the whole of your Church but you will not belong to a party in it.’” . . .
Although her love of beauty gave her joy in a well-ordered ritual, she was troubled by regulations which made any one type of ritual obligatory for the whole Church. She strove without any slackening of effort to keep the services at Adelynrood of a moderate form that would be acceptable to any type of churchmanship.
From “Biographical Sketch of Emily Malbone Morgan” by Emily Sophie Brown, in Letters to Her Companions, by Emily Malbone Morgan, edited by Vida Dutton Scudder. Privately printed, 1944. Found at http://anglicanhistory.org/women/adelynroodsketch.html