Lindisfarne Community Retreat, 2011

This year’s retreat was loaded with many unexpected things - a car wreck; a companion, a new friend, new faces, ordination, and a host of other things made it a trip worth remembering. So let’s jump right to it!

We were on our way to the airport at roughly 03:00 in the morning, when a person driving a big car (like a four-door Lincoln Continental) just started coming into our lane. We swerved to miss this person, lost control of the car, spun around in circles and bounced off the concrete dividing wall a couple of times. (The other driver didn’t stop.) There were four of us in the car and we all got out with only some bruises and achy muscles. (I’m so thankful for the kind woman who stopped and checked on us. She just happened to be the TSA person who was at our security check point at the airport!) We made our flight and had to deal with the car when we got back.

Our flight was fine and uneventful (thankfully) and we arrived on time in Elmira, New York. My friend John Finn picked us up and took us to Ithaca (about 45 minutes away). He and his lovely family hosted my wife and I for a couple of days before the retreat. They have such a great place by a stream that is just a little bit of heaven. From their back porch you can hear the stream as it cascades over the rocks. So peaceful.

Later that afternoon, Mahina and I did a little shopping in the Commons and met John for dinner at Moosewood Restaurant. It’s a great place and if you ever find yourself in Ithaca, I highly recommend it!

The next day, my Abbott, Andy Fitz-Gibbons, picked us up and took us all over the place! We had bagels the “best bagels in the world” at Ithaca Bakery and met Abbess Jane (his wife for some tea - yes, their English). Later that afternoon, we went to their place to meet up with some other people coming into the the retreat - Chris and James, Renee, and John were all there along with their foster children and pugs. And it was right here that Mahina made a new friend - Jack. Jack is Jane and Andy’s latest pug. He’s a fiesty little thing that Mahina just swooned over. Before we left that night, he was in her lap (again) and she said, “I think Jack wants to come home with me.”

On Friday, before the retreat, Chris and James came by and swept us off to a great restaurant and vinyard. I don’t recall the name of the place but it was great. The food, the view, the beer and, best of all, the company, made it such a great spot for lunch. Then, as we drove to the retreat center, we stopped at a little village did a little shopping. Our biggest purchase was some chocolate at a quaint little candy shop. This was so good it should worry Willy Wonka!

After settling in at Casowasco, we all met in the gathering space and started our sessions. The theme of this year’s retreat was “The New Monasticism”. We spent four sessions exploring what new monasticism is and what we, the Lindisfarne Community, bring to the table. Each session started with silent meditation. I want to explore new monasticism a little more so I’ll leave that for another post. If you would like to view the sessions, they are on the Lindisfarne Community’s Facebook page.

On Saturday afternoon we had the reception and ordination service. This year, we received two new people into the community, ordained a deacon and two priests. It was quite thrilling! Each of us gave a little declaration of our journey to Lindisfarne as well as our reflections on ordination. Then it was time for the ordination.

Everything was going well until I knelt down. A wash of emotion came over me and I wept silently, holding back sobs, and wiping tears from my eyes. I was getting really hot. Sweat was beading up on my head and I thought I may faint. And the Bishops and Priests hadn’t even laid hands on me yet. The realization of what was happening was just so powerful. I was just very humbled. Still am. And I pray that I always will be.

After the service, we took pictures outside. It was great. You can see the pictures my wife took on the LC Facebook page. I have a couple of favorites - the one where the priests are all laying their hands on me and the one with me, my wife, and my Bishops.

The next day, Pentecost Sunday, we finished off the retreat and headed for home. The drive to the airport was uneventful (thank goodness!) as were the flights. Although, we did almost miss the flight out of Detroit (that’s a story for another day), we arrived safe and sound back home. All-in-all, a great time.

I’m so thankful for my Bishops, Abbess +Jane and Abbot +Andy for all of their hard work in putting this retreat together. I’m almost certain that John and Chris helped out a lot as well, so a big “Thank you” to them, too. Lastly, I’m just so pleased to be included in a very open, warm, and loving community.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Jack+, LC


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