Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Advent Open House at The Abbey

Over in the comments for this post, sonja and Matt and I were discussing forms of church--high, low and in between! And as I got to thinking about it, a picture of The Abbey began to form that I thought I would share with you...and since this is the time of year for inviting others over for a bit of Holiday Cheer, I thought it good to have an Advent Open House at The Abbey!

Being a virtual abbey, this tour will require a bit of work for your mind's eye. But childlikeness fosters creative imagination, and Christmas is truly a season of wonder...so give it a go!

The Abbey is one of those split-level affairs: you approach at street level what is actually the second floor, and inside and to the right, there is a spiral staircase going up and down. It is a pleasant but simple place, nothing to inspire oohs and ahhs as you pass by...but the many large windows and the view of an inviting hearth with a huge yule log burning brightly is intriguing enough to urge you to pull over... just for a quick look... there's time for a quick look, eh?

At the end of the walkway is a small stoop with a great, round purple door (no surprise there!) with the handle right in the middle. (The Abbess is quite fond of Hobbit architecture...and here is the first hint of it!) You are just about to tug on the lovely braided bell rope (of course it is purple, too!), when the door swings open... AbbE, singing and reciting poetry for the other guests, saw you approach (It is almost impossible to approach The Abbey and not be observed by someone.) He got to the door just before AbbY made it down the stairs from the Scriptorium... book in hand, yet! AbbI and I were busy in the kitchen keeping plates filled and mulled cider hot and flowing. How it warms the hands to hold a mug... and what a delicious scent of apple and clove and cinnamon and orange all mingled together... be careful, it's hot!

Who are all these folks? Between the four of us we have seven children (what a perfect number!) and, with the three spouses (we do like triads), that makes 14... even numbers mean there is no one left as odd man out! (I didn't say we have no odd men, now....) We're a very inclusive and very lively group, here at The Abbey. And while there are seven adults and seven children, which is nicely even, the males outnumber the females nine to five--three wives and two daughters. This is not a problem for The Abbess, however. Abi's kind of math calculates each female as equivalent to two or three males, so that works out to right about 10 equivalent females in the end... since the males at The Abbey are of exceptional quality, don't you know! ;^)

Back to the tour....

The Scriptorium, you will see, is on the third floor, with an expansive view of the sky and surroundings -- due to 360 degrees of windows. More High Church stuff happens here, with many connections to the Church past, present, celestial, terrestrial, glocal, virtual... it is from here that Abi frequently ponders and blogs! It is usually a quiet place of awe and majesty and one seems compelled to speak or hum in hushed tones. AbbY, our Celtic Abbot, is very busy these days in extended studies... but he does come down every once in a while... knowing and doing cannot be separated! And we are all the merrier when he does! Actually, AbbI, our Eclectic Abbot, is also involved in course work at this time... but there is plenty of room in the Scriptorium...and we each have our own little cubicle. Come to think of it, AbbE, our Ancient-Future Abbot, is hard at work writing and editing various Kingdom Culture works -- documenting the density packed in his grey matter for present and future generations to process (Remember: Grey is the Color of Hope... and it goes so nicely with purple!)

The Hospitality Center in on the main floor, as you can see, with many windows facing the walkway and street and an open floor plan around the kitchen and hearth--more readily adaptive to whoever is coming through the door to visit! This is the location of Middle Church, that meets needs of food and fellowship--the breaking of bread that is so vital to the covenant community. Laughing and singing and dancing... as well as crying and lamenting and triage... all interpenetrate here -- yes, perichoretically!

The Underground floor is actually a walk-out basement to the expansive gardens behind The Abbey, with many paths for walking and benches for sitting... to rest or talk or pray... and, of course, there's lots of work to do in the gardens!

The foundation of The Abbey is here as well as the roots from which The Abbey bears fruit. It is the lowly place of working with one's hands in the soil--of clearing rocks, amending soil, planting, feeding, watering, weeding, pruning, waiting, watching and, yes, harvesting.

This is definitely the Low Church arena where contextualized and incarnational and missional engagements are fostered...and their fragrance--sometimes delicate, sometimes pungent, wafts up and throughout the house, carried by the Holy Spirit's wind.

Many hands are called to work here. Not all feel called to ascend the stairs to the Scriptorium that often, but gravity tugs at everyone to come down to the Garden! And after a long day's work, there is a place to wash up, put on clean clothes, and lay your weary body down to rest.

The Abbess (on behalf of the Abbots and all) thanks you for coming, bids you to stay as long as you like, invites you back as often as you can, encourages you to bring others with you, and leaves you softly singing (HT to Northumbria for the lovely tune!) this ancient Celtic blessing:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rain fall soft upon your fields.
Until we meet again,
May God hold you
In the hollow of his hand.


Brad said...


AbiSomeone said...

Hope you didn't burn your tongue on the spiced cider ;^)