|The Wild Goose of|
The Lindisfarne Community
'Ithaca is gorges' as they say. I have never really wanted to move to another state in the continental US before I went to Ithaca. I was in awe. It looked like a Norman Rockwell painting. Rolling 'hills' (there should really be another name because these were larger than what I think of as hills but they were smaller than what I think of as mountains), lush and green, dotted with red barns and silos and quaint farm houses next to a flowing river or pond or lake. It was breath-taking. And the fact that the people of Ithaca have created this 'city' in a complementary way with the natural world around them is the most refreshing. The streets wind left and right, down and up in concert with the landscape. It's truly inspiring. And Ithaca, for me at least, was what the Celtic Christians called a 'thin place' - a place in this world where the space between our realm and God's realm is very thin.
After having a nice lunch and tour, we finally drove to Casowasco where the Lindisfarne Community would have it's 2010 retreat. From what I gather, we have met there previously. It, like Ithaca, was built with what seemed to be a low impact on the natural world around it.
After settling in, and mingling with others from the community, we went up to the dining area, a newly remodeled facility (Casowasco had the dedication a few days after Lindisfarne left last year). The hostess and the cooks were all polite and they fixed some very tasty vegetarian meals.
After dinner, we met for a brief introduction of the retreat in the Library of the retreat house where we were all staying. After this, we had Compline.
The next morning, we had Morning Prayer, then breakfast, and then we started the different sessions. The theme for the retreat was 'Deepening our Practice'. This included sessions on the different ministries that others were doing (prison ministry, Taize', etc.) as well as different tools (journaling, meditation, etc.) Unfortunately, the sessions were concurrent so we couldn't go to all of them. It is here that I want to thank all of those who lead the sessions. I received a lot of insight into what the other members of the community do as well as some additional tools for deepening my own practice. I don't think I have ever met a more open, honest, and genuinely 'real' group of people. I am so thankful that God has lead me to Lindisfarne.
After Midday Prayer, lunch, more sessions, Evening Prayer, and dinner it was time for the ordination service. I, and Sue, were to be ordained as deacons. She was a little more nervous than I. The Bishops came forward and we were presented to them by representatives from the community. I was robed in the community habit (an alb of flax, a white cincture, and the community cross), knelt before the Abbott and Abbess, our Bishops. After a few more moments, we were asked to share a little bit about our journeys that brought us to that place.
I won't speak for Sue (it wouldn't do her story justice anyway), but I spoke of how I always heard stories of people running from God. In my mind, those were the people who were liars, cheaters, thieves, drug addicts, etc. Pretty much my whole Christian life, I was told by several people, that I should be in ordained ministry. I always brushed it aside either because there were plenty of others who would do a much better job than I or I wasn't any different or more special from other people. I just was given the tools people and shown how to use them to become a deeper follower of Jesus. However, when my Mother passed away, I was sitting in a parish and praying, before my row was released for the Eucharist, that if God really wanted me to do this, to become an ordained minister within the one holy catholic and apostolic church, I needed a 'Gideon moment'. I was requesting the dew on the fleece only and not the ground. It was at that moment, that the organ played the first song that I knew the words to after more than two years in the Episcopal church - How Great Thou Art. My Mother's favorite hymn. There was no doubt. I told the rest of my community, through tears, that I was the one who had been running. My ordination, that moment, was a moment of acknowledgment. A moment of surrender. A little while later, Sue and I were ordained as deacons.
That evening I lead Compline as 'Reverend' Jack+. It's still a little weird. The next morning was my favorite part of the weekend. I was honored to serve this little community during the Eucharist.
The way home, was a little more rocky. Or not. My flight on Sunday afternoon was cancelled. The next available one would be on Monday. In Syracuse. I 'had' to spend the evening with my Abbott and Abbess, +Jane and +Andy Fitz-gibbon and their two pugs, Molly and Lucy (this is what made missing my flight not so rocky). We watched 'The Mirror Cracked' on Masterpiece Theatre that evening. The next morning, +Andy and I spent a little time in the back yard (or 'garden' as the English like to call it), had morning prayer, and then went off to breakfast at the Ithaca Bakery. It was a great time.
After breakfast, +Andy went to school (he's a professor) and Chris came and took me to the Syracuse airport. After arriving in Detroit, and waiting for three hours, my flight was delayed another hour. Then they changed the gate. I finally made it back to Oklahoma around 11:00 pm. But my luggage didn't. It was still in Detroit. It arrived the next day.
All in all, I had a most wonderful time. The place was a beautiful image of God's very good creation. The staff and Casowasco were pleasant and helpful. And, like I had imagined, the people from the Lindisfarne Community were more wonderful and beautiful in person than they were in our digital conversations.
Thank you all for your love and support. It is my honor to be a part of this community. I pray that our Loving God will continue to grow this community with the Love of Christ.
In the Love of the Three in One,