August 11-13, 2011

 . . .that was Thursday last week. It’s 7 days later. . . Sitting in the train station in Oxford, having just received a nearly personalized tour of C.S. Lewis’ home, “The Kilns” conducted by Dr. Debbie Higgins, the Resident Director of the Lewis Foundation.

. . . . Yeah. it’s been a good day. More on that later. 

Back to NetherSprings.

It might be best to condense Friday, Saturday and Sunday last into a single entry. 

We were at Nether Springs for what’s called a Community Weekend;  a two and half day introduction to the inner workings of the community as a means for people to decide how they want ( if they want) to relate to the community. Officially, there are a handfull sessions where particiapnts get the goods, Q&A, and of course daily offices. But just as important are the meals and the informal conversations.

We had a chance to chat with people from all over the U.K. and a couple from Germany as well. 

I think I’ve mentioned the idea of “connections” numerous times. Well, while I was drying dishes and chatting with Catherine Askew, one of the full time community leaders and Anglican Priest, she mentioned that since her father had grown up in Seatlle, her parents recently moved back to Western Washington . . . to a little island called Camano.

. . . If you didn’t already know . . .that’s where I grew up.

Oh,  Our Romantic God.

I had a great talk with Pete Askew (Catherine’s husband and Anglican Priest as well) about larger kinds of connections. How would the ethos of the NC express itself in a place like Marysville, Washington? Should it? We didn’t come up with a set of conclusions, but a list of better questions.

The take-away from my time with Pete was: Look for metaphors in our context that carry the same values. 

That’s thrilling work for someone like me.

Saturday night saw the arrival of scores of other friends and companions to enjoy a CD release party for Anna Raine’s new record.

Anna performed for all of us ( several songs that connected us even more, like “Stone by Stone” from the movie “Brother Son Sister Moon” and others.) It was BYOB affair, and between sets there was an array of goodies and time to chat with other friends. 

Before the end of Anna’s last set, the crowd seamlessly followed along joined and joined with Anna and Andy in Compline . . . It was a great example of how the daily offices don’t stand OUT in the midst of the day, but instead tie it all together.

Afterward, Andy sought me out, and we had a very intentional conversation that mirrored my earlier chat with Pete . . .just as significant, but it was about ME this time. Andy has that quality, that gift or charism that tends to draw things out of a person they would not otherwise share. 

It was good. Challenging. A bit intimidating. Packed with potential. I’ll need some time alone with God to process it.

Since it was late night . . .there wasn’t a full clean up before the house went to sleep . . . (hence the empty wine bottles on Sunday morning I mentioned earlier)

I got a chance to see the Raine family off, and then off to bed myself. But not for long. 3:45AM brought the jarring sound of the fire alarm. I had abscent mindedly looked at the fire instructions in our room the day we arrived, so as I popped out of bed and got some trousers on, I told Brenda to  head for the car park (the rally point in the event of fire) and I would go get the girls.

Groggy, with a sudden shot of adrenaline, and in deep darkness . . . It was not easy to find the door, but I finally did. I scooted across the Cloister just in time to see Kellie emerging from the girls room with Robyn firmly in her protective grip, calmly looking around to determine their next step. I was very proud of her.

By this time, I was convinced that if there actually was a fire, it was not an immediate threat to us, so I guided the girls back through their door to quickly put on some shoes, then the three of us joined the other’s on our way to the parking lot. As each moment ticked by, it became clearer that it was a false alarm. Ann and Adam did a great job shepherding us, and sorting the situation through, and Sarah, who was also a guest at the time, was charged with roll call. All present and accpunted for. At the time of publishing, it is still not known what set the alarm off. but it was a good drill, and the House Team did well!

Summarizing the entire weekend experience at Nether Springs is hard to do. To say that my personal resonance with the NC has increased is an understatement. The girls are still processing their own experiences, but I think it safe to say that Brenda has a new affection for the people of the NC after having the chance to spend time with them, and the girls each have their own increased appreciation of the monastic experience.

Not surprisingly, I find that I am very drawn to the a Rule of Life: Being Available and Vulnerable to God and my community. I will be asking to enter the novitiate process later this week.

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