One of the joys - and really scary things - about being part of a very young Community is that all of the traditions of that place are still being established. I had a long talk with one of our senior Brothers today - partly it was a catchup (because I've been a bit out of the loop with the move and all), and part of it was discussing where the Community of Solitude is going in the next little while. We're growing at a phenomonal rate and we've spent a lot of time putting in the structures that support this growth. What we're now exploring is what it means to be a dispersed Community - very much part of each other's lives but living separately. How do we support that over time, as we grow? How do we walk with those who are discerning whether this is the right place for them, given that mentor and novice are often thousands of kilometres apart (or half a world, in the case of me and the rest of them!)?
I have a lot of thinking and praying to do on this one. I have been a Guardian for coming up three years now (it's gone very quickly, trust me!) and our Constitution states that we can only serve in any office for two consecutive terms of three years, to make sure that we've got fresh blood and fresh ideas coming into the leadership of the Community. I was and am honoured to be chosen to be Guardian but want to make sure that as the Community grows, we're laying the groundwork for those who will step into those roles. COS is not about the Founders, or me, or any other single person. It's about God's shared call to each of us, and how we explore that call together. Dispersed community has its challenges - but then so does living in community too!
I have been loving exploring our current Community study book, Monastic Practices, by Br Charles Cummings OSCO (another Trappist! I love the Cistercians!) - a gentle, clear, incredibly inspiring exploration of the lived wisdom of monastic activities. Yes. he's cloistered, but I'm loving taking his words (and he uses words beautifully) and thinking about how that works when you're not cloistered. Interesting times ahead - but for another time, as it's almost midnight and I have work tomorrow! That's what happens when I start blogging about something I really care about late at night....!