8. To be faithful, as God is faithful, requires a community where faithfulness can be learned. In our calling to become community, our faithfulness will be tested. We should not resist the test, but, rather embrace it. Like “silver tried seven times” we will be all the stronger; the community will be more real. In the testing of faithfulness we learn to rejoice together and to suffer together.
This is one of the Understandings that is, I think, the most difficult when one considers that most of us are not close to the Lindisfarne Community Mother house in Ithaca, New York. At the same time, it is also the Understanding that may have the greatest impact on us and others around us. This Understanding is one that I feel the most. That is, it’s bloody difficult to be in community when one is several hundred (or thousand) miles from other members of the community (We have professed members from all over the world: the USA, the UK, New Zealand, Germany, Indonesia, and South Africa)! But, as this Understanding puts it, so clearly, we shouldn’t resist this test, but embrace it. We have the opportunity to show what an inclusive, ecumenical global community can look like in day-to-day life. It’s hard. Real hard. But it’s what we’ve chosen to do. And, with us pushing that envelope, our community becomes more real. More so because it’s intentional and spread out.
We’ve used several social media technologies to make the distance smaller. We have a Facebook page and use mailing lists. Several of us have blogs that others can read and see what’s going on in our distant, yet connected, lives (you can see the links on the left side of our home page). We use instant messaging technologies to “chat.” And, we’ve used Skype to have classes and Eucharist. These are all planned events. We make arrangements and do our best to connect with each other.
We also have an annual retreat at the beautiful Casowasco Retreat and Conference Center in Owasco, New York. In the past (before I found them), they’ve had retreats to our namesake - Lindisfarne (also known as Holy Island), a tidal island off the northeast coast of England. As one can imagine, this, too, is a planned event. We have to be intentional about getting together. It’s hard and stressful (the travel alone can be trying). And when we get together, sometimes it’s awkward, but most of the time it’s amazing. Just like with most families!
Also, this faithfulness is understood when it comes to our practices - Eucharist, the Daily Office, Meditation, Study, Service, and Soul Friendship (anamchara). These, and a few other things, make up our Rule of Life - the basic guide for our community living. When I do my daily practices, I am ever mindful that others with the Lindisfarne Community are doing them as well. This, too, connects us. It helps us to remain faithful - first to our commitment to God and secondly to our commitment to each other as a community.
It’s not easy. Like being in any long-distance relationship, it takes acceptance and trust. I have found these attributes over-flowing, not only with individuals within the community, but from the Lindisfarne Community as a whole. They have truly been a fresh breath of God’s Spirit to me and my family. I only hope that we can be the same for them.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br Jack+, LC