Our adventures in the USA are coming to a close. I spent this morning re-reading my blog posts of the last few months. We’ve packed a lot in! Now I’m taking time to reflect on this first stage of our ‘purposeful adventure’ as we prepare for our journey home and the next stage in Birmingham city centre.
We’ve got to know the local area of Columbia County, visiting the county fair, having various breakfasts in diners and enjoying many of the nature reserves including Ooms Pond and Hand Hollow. We’ve travelled by train, bus and car through New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey and Ohio (via Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania). We’ve journeyed the length of Cape Cod and visited Boston, Washington DC and New York City. We’ve hiked in the Green Mountains and camped in the Adirondacks. We’ve swum in natural ponds and mountain lakes. We’ve been typical tourists, walking the Freedom Trail, cycling round the National Mall and walking the High Line. We marched in the People’s Climate March, one of the biggest marches I’ve ever seen. We’ve eaten s’mores, pancakes, quahogs, French toast, tacos and the sweetest watermelon we’ve ever tasted. We’ve played chamber music with House Party in Vermont, eaten green parsley cake at Beacon Hill Friends House and witnessed speaking in tongues with the Friends of Jesus Fellowship.
Our knowledge of plants, particularly weeds, has increased from zero to modest. Adrian has driven a vehicle for the first time in his life, even if it was only down the drive. I now feel completely au fait with driving on the right (yet still wrong) side of the road. Our domestic efforts within the Farm House at QIV-C have been strongly appreciated. We’ve cleared and weeded a large patch of land, ready for it to become a tomato patch. Adrian helped restore a chicken coop and turned his hand to grape jelly. We’ve repainted a table and hosted several community dinners, with Windsor Hill Wood focaccia making a regular appearance. We’ve shared our love of silliness, introducing the community to the wonders of the Eurovision Song Contest.
All this has been possible because of the unceasing flow of generosity we have experienced here at QIV-C. The gifts of produce, friendship, time, hospitality and transportation have been beyond count. The community has also been generous with their trust, openly and honestly sharing the struggles and joys of living here. The space we have had to think, write, talk and relax has been a true gift. We’ve also managed to remain tick free! When we arrived at QIV-C, we were struck by the beauty of the place and the strength of vision behind it. This place was built, and is sustained by, hard work, work so hard that we would never embark on such a project. In the words of our liturgy, for QIV-C and the people who built and sustain it, and everyone who enriches it by their presence, we give thanks.
There are several things we’ve learned about ourselves and our calling to intentional community. A project of the scale found at QIV-C is beyond us. Our calling is to something much smaller. I’ve also found clarity in identifying my vocation as monastic, rather than priestly, in character, although how this will be expressed is still a mystery. I also want to be a part of a community that eats and prays together readily. I began in August with a regime of solitary morning and evening prayer. Familiarity breeds contempt, and by September staying in bed had become far more appealing. I need a community that will support me in a disciplined prayer life. Luckily, the next community we’re visiting – Carrs Lane Lived Community – will do just that.
Goodbye USA. It’s been awesome!
Adrian has gained immense pleasure from identifying over 100 species of bird whilst in the States. Highlights from the last few weeks include: