I'm late this week - I spent much of the past weekend with a group of our Associates who were here for their summer retreat and I've been catching up since then.
A while back I was out for a long walk on a Monday afternoon. At the end of the walk I came down our drive and as I got close to the building the front door opened and six people in saris and Buddhist monastic robes came out of the guesthouse. They smiled as they went by and the eldest man, who was at the end of the line, and who was clearly a monk of some variety, pressed his hands together and bowed to me and said: "Good vibes here!"
Well he's right. There are good vibes here, and there's plenty of testimony to that. This week had a whole bunch of stuff that added to the vibes.
First of all the flutists were here all week. Some of you will know that during the summer we have a couple of weeks when we host Flute Master's Classes when 20 or so flute students study with Gary Shocker, who is a world renowned flutist and composer. Each week we get 2 concerts out of it, too: Gary does a recital on the first night of the class, and on the final day, which is Sunday, there is a recital of the whole group, which is always quite a joy, and features a performance or two by Gary, as well.
It had never occurred to me until we began having the Master's Classes that there was music for flute ensembles, but there is and it is unlike anything I've heard before. All kinds of flutes make their appearances: little ones, medium sized ones, tiny ones, and one great whacking bass instrument that is so long that the column is bent about 2/3 of the way down so that it can be held and played at the same time. The sound of 20 flutes playing together is mellow and lovely.
So there are weeks during the summer now when the place is literally full of music. We sound like a conservatory. We're quite used to it at this point, and any feeling of being disturbed has passed away for most of us. It's part of our life. And next year we are adding guitar to the mix. It should be quite a time.
I sat one day in our church and listened to the music float in and around our buildings, and realized how the sound of this music has now merged with the rest of the atmosphere here. It's become part of what Holy Cross is. It's part of our vibes.
Then on Wednesday, Tay came.
Tay Moss is an Associate and a close friend of the community and of mine. He and I have family connections: his mother was the nurse at the senior high camp that I worked at for so many summers. He began coming here while he was in college. His first visit was to come for the whole of Lent, which, to put it mildly, is more of an exposure than most people take on the first time they come here. But this was part of a semester that he spent at a Tibetan monastery in Nepal and then with us, so he was up for it.
Then later he came back, and came back, and came back again. He lived here for several summers while he was in college and then in seminary and did all kinds of technical stuff for us. He is what I have just learned to refer to as an alpha geek. He's never had a computer that he didn't build himself, and his present set-up is truly breathtaking. He is responsible for a lot of our present computer network and other set-ups, so he has given us as much as he has received. He and Betsy, his wife, were married here several years ago, and Betsy's absence this summer while she learns Byzantine Greek in Athens (yes, that's another story!) gave him the opportunity to return.
This present visit will be a month long and he is using it to redo our web site. We've been wanting to update the site for a long time now, but our options have been slim, since we don't have any money to pay for someone to do it. Then, all on his own, Tay came up with a bunch of ideas for making the site much more workable. In the few days that he's been here he's come up with a new layout, which is much easier to use and is very attractive and also uses a lot more of Randy's pictures. He's been recording (both sound and video) some of the Offices, having interviews with people and soliciting text contributions. We never know what combination of equipment will be in the Church when we arrive for worship. While the whole site won't be available for a while, a good deal of it will be up before very long and will be quite an improvement.
And then, having Tay around here again is great, too. He fits right in, as always, is a joy to have around, and he even helps with the dishes!
Added to all of that, over the weekend a bunch of our Associates were here. Our Associates are people who have a special bond with us through prayer and through relationships that have been built up over time. There are 3 Associates' Weekends during each year and the summer gathering is fairly informal. I usually meet with them over issues of communication, and this year, Tay was along for that meeting and we talked about the web site and how it can facilitate their relationship with us, and we got some really good ideas.
We had an ice cream social after supper one evening, which was a nice social occasion, they helped out with various tasks around the place and there was a nature walk for those who wanted to go. It was a good time, and their gathering seemed particularly rich too me - full of bonds of affection and closeness. A number of the Associates stayed for the closing concert of the flute group, so that worked in nicely with everything else that was going on, and gave the flutists a bigger audience that they would normally have.
Good vibes, indeed. Music floating around the corridors and stirring in with the echos of prayer that permeate the place. Plans for the future and for making our life more accessible to those who want to find out about us. Friendship and spirituality. It all went together so naturally and so beautifully. And it seemed to be so much of what we are about here.