I’m back at work after a wonderful weekend at the school for conversion in Lexington, KY. I have so much to tell, so my blog this week might be a series of stories about this weekend. I feel in some ways that words are too limiting to describe my thoughts: the joy I felt at being part of a family for a weekend; the heartbreak of leaving new, dear friends; the lament of being part of a culture that is broken and lost; the tension that still exists in trying to figure out how my community can glorify the Father best.
Before I launch into my experiences and how this weekend changed my life, I’ll tell you a story.
One of the marks of new monasticism is hospitality to the stranger. We must be inconvenienced for the sake of loving and serving others. Part of this involves opening our homes to people. Part of hospitality is also letting others be hospitable and serve us. It’s learning about grace through the kindness of strangers.
The Gladdings were our host family at Communality in Lexington. Sean and Rebecca opened their home to us, and I enjoyed every minute of my stay with them. Additionally, they have two young children who really showed me what it means to be hospitable and to love one another. Maggie is almost six years old, and Seth is four. The two of them seemed to immediately attach themselves to Chris and me. Maggie eagerly ran to me each time she saw me, and she climbed into my lap with no hesitation. Yesterday morning, during our next-to-last session, the children were upstairs, and during the break, Maggie ran down to give me a picture she’d drawn of a rainbow and a rabbit. It’s safe to say that it’s something I’ll treasure for a long time.
Maggie and Seth showed me what it’s like to fully welcome someone into your life. What would happen if we threw aside all hesitation? If we loved one another with reckless abandon? If we shared a meal and risked getting too close to one another, being vulnerable? Life would be beautiful, indeed.
The most beautiful moment, however, came when we took communion. Mary, who led the communion, began by serving one of the other guests. She held out the loaf and the juice, saying, “This is Christ’s body that was broken for you, and this is His blood that was shed for you.” We then continued to serve one another. When it was Chris’ turn, he turned to Maggie, who was sitting on my lap, and offered her communion. She then took the loaf and the cup and turned to me, saying the words perfectly and looking straight at me. I took communion and then passed it on, and then I thanked God for showing me His love and grace through the little girl sitting in my lap.
I’ve never experienced such love from people I’d never met before. I’ve never known the feeling of a family to develop so quickly, as it did with the members of Communality and the guests that arrived from around the country (and Canada!) to attend the school. I hated leaving Lexington yesterday, and I’m eager to return to the city to visit all the new friends I made. Despite all the tension and anxiety I originally felt about attending the school for conversion, this weekend was one of the best experiences of my life. God has revealed Himself to me in really awesome ways, including taking communion with a five-year, and I’m so thankful for this experience.