All sorts of things going on over the last few days.
Probably the most exciting (from my perspective, anyway!) was the conference call with the rest of the Community of Solitude for the first Vespers of the Assumption (Saturday night their time, Sunday afternoon my time). I couldn't call in from New Zealand (although the Guardian Council are trying to figure out how the "internationals" can participate in Community meetings) but they recorded the liturgy and meeting afterwards, and sent us a link. It was wonderful to be part of the entrance of two new novices and the simple vows of one of our current members, and then to listen to the discussion afterwards.
I found it very "rounding", in the sense that I've talked on skype to two of the senior members of the Community and have had email discussions with the rest, but it's the first time I've heard the voices of the others. It made everyone rather more real, in some ways. We have an amazing community spirit and we're in touch quite regularly as a Community, but it's mostly written. It was good to hear their voices and some of the personality, the laughter and chat. One day I'd love to meet the others in person, but we'll see!
One of the new novices asked me over email "how I do it" from so far away. That got me thinking. How do I maintain my vocation when I am the only member of my Community in the Southern Hemisphere? It's actually easier than it seems, partly because we are naturally a community in dispersion anyway. Only two of the Sisters live in the same town (they actually share a hermitage together) - the rest of us are very widely scattered geographically. We're organised around the internet, email, skype, and phone calls (for those in the USA), and we pray for each other. I have a photograph of the Community on my desktop, so every time I turn my computer on, I am reminded to pray for them all. We pray for each other regularly - I do it when I pray for the Diocese in the daily Office - but mostly, for me, it's a "carrying in the heart". They are part of me, and I am part of them, and whenever we pray, the rest of the Community is with us.
In terms of family news, we've had a good weekend. We went to the Petone Winter Carnival on Saturday, and fortunately the miserable weather that was threatening held off - there was a fairly abrupt and chilly southerly change that ripped through about 5.30pm, but it was still good enough to have the Pelorus Trust Fireshow at 7.30pm. Small daughter had a ball, enjoying the fair attractions, the ice sculpture, the fire scuptures, the giant chess pieces, and especially the fireworks. Hubby took photographs of the midwinter swim - he was the crazy photographer that actually went into the water to take his photos! - and some great shots of the fireworks. I hope to post some shortly for your delectation and delight!
Last week wasn't quite so good: daughter and I were both sick, daughter with an ear infection, and me with a strep throat which got rather nasty. But we're both on the mend now, thanks to some hefty doses of antibiotics!
I'm now sitting in a motel room in New Plymouth preparing for some training I'm due to deliver tomorrow, watching Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey and salivating over the food - especially interesting as we watched him create some of these dishes last weekend and I can imagine the smells and tastes of this kind of food really well.