I ventured forth on my journey saying I wanted to be open to the help of strangers. This past week, the Spirit truly gave me the gift of that help.
When I was setting up my schedule, a couple from Lincoln invited me to come and experience Luminous, a community shaped by the seven sacred spaces of monasticism. I was well pleased when they also invited me to stay with them. After all, a sabbatical like this one can be pricey. I was a bit nervous when I arrived, not knowing them from Adam, but I needn't have. Jonnie and Mel treated me like a long lost friend. Their ministry is clearly shaped not just by the spaces of monasticism, but by Benedict's undergirding value of hospitality. Their children Samuel and Abigail treated me like part of the family, be it Samuel schooling me in Settlers of Cattan or Abigail taking it easy on me when training me in the martial art of Abi-do because I'm very old.
Luminous reflects the fundamentals of hospitality, as a diverse group of ages and backgrounds gather regularly in "cloister" for board games, in "chapter" to make decisions or in "chapel" to worship.
On Monday I was welcomed to the "refectory" of their kitchen-diner for the monthly community meal skillfully framed by communion. Such a simple experience of spiritual companionship. These are people who deeply care for each other, caring for a member whose mum is dying, blessing a member who's leaving, holding together people with quite divergent theologies and viewpoints but joined together in genuine love.
A profound experience was my last. We came together at a local church for Silent Eucharist. Stripped down to just gestures and body postures, this was a deeply moving communion. With everyone's arms upraised as Jonnie held the bread before us, we each remembered Jesus' life and ministry, his death and resurrection. I could feel his presence with us. It gives me chills just writing about it.
In the Parkins' kitchen hangs an enormous icon of the Oak of Mamre where Abraham welcomed three angels and shared a feast with them. I shared a feast of welcome and acceptance with Jonnie and Mel. I pray that I may learn to receive others as graciously as they received me. In that sense of openness and love, I experienced the presence of G-d.