Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's Happened!

Well, it's official. Yesterday the first two daffodils bloomed. This morning the first hyacinth was nodding serenely by the front door, and over by the monastery the grape hyacinths are waving in the breeze. We have hundreds of daffodils planted around the property, and with just a little more warmth and sun we'll have our annual Great Spring Display. And then, God and the deer willing, will come the tulip-daffodil crosses and the tulips. So it is actually going to happen again. Spring is coming.

The first daffodil as captured at dusk this Saturday 02 April by Br. Charles, n/OHC

Because I'm feeling so much into it now, I try to remind myself of the old adage: "April is the cruelest month." You can't really count on anything around here until May. I was living in England once at this time of the year and remember thinking about that poem that says: "Oh, to be in England, now that April's there", and wondering: "What on earth could he have been thinking about?" There are still going to be a number of weather set-backs. But my attitude to it is now changed for the season. I never realize how deep the winter consciousness goes in my bones until the first day like this in the Spring. And then I know, once again.

There's actually lots to be celebrating. One thing that's been on my mind is the Guesthouse season. This has been an extraordinary time. February is always the month in the year that has the highest occupancy rate (go figure). But this year it started in January and hasn't quit. Week after week we have been full or close to full not only on the weekends but during the week as well. Of course the pressure of that tells after a while. But it's also very gratifying. With retreat centers closing all around us, it's quite amazing to be on a upswing here.

And there are other interesting signs. A quite remarkable percentage of the weekday guests have been men. There have been weeks when every guest in the house except one or two was male. This is quite a change. Like most church institutions we can usually count on groups having one man to every two women. But come to think of it, when I look back, the percentage of men coming to the Guesthouse has been slowly increasing for some time. And now there seems to have been some sort of breakthrough. To be the sort of spiritual place that men find attractive and relevant is very encouraging.

The other thing is that the average age of the guests is going down noticeably. Few weeks pass now without a number of young people coming, and this is also a change that has been coming for a while. College and seminay groups have have been part of our life since I was the Director of the Guesthouse some years ago. But again, some kind of threshold seems to have been crossed. Towards the beginning of March there was one week when there was a quite unusual number of younger people here, and when we asked around we discovered that it was Spring Break, and the kids were here for part of that time, along with a significant number of faculty from several different schools. Quite a number of them were male. Who would have thought? Not the kind of Spring Break that I remember!

So there's life all around, and I'm feeling very grateful for all of it. Just the kind of sign that we need at the end of a long, hard winter.


Michael said...

How very encouraging!

TKale said...

Our entire culture hankers after youth and every establishment hankers after the young male: most natural perhaps in a monastery, but ah! how one longs to find a less worldly place.

Br Bede Thomas Mudge OHC said...

Well, TKale, I made it pretty clear that our ministry leans heavily towards middle-aged and elderly women. If our desire to have a more balanced representation seems worldly, so be it, I guess. Worldliness was one one of the charges leveled at Jesus, after all.

TKale said...

Dear Brother Bede,

What you say is "that like most church institutions, we can usually count on having one man to every two women" which sounds like the lament of "feminization" we've been hearing from church leaders since the 17th century. You also say: "There have been weeks when every guest in the house except one or two was male" -- that doesn't strike a tone of a desire for a more balanced representation. You seem to be celebrating a notion that the more men the better.

Tim said...

The Episcopal Church is out of balance right now. Many more women than men, at least in my church and diocese, and it has been like this for years. Some Sundays, there are no men or boys at the altar, and usually just a scattering of dads in the congregation. Several young boys in our church have been surprised and shocked upon first seeing a male priest. Yes, balance would be nice; perhaps feminization can now tone down a bit. Boys have been overlooked, forgotten, and demonized in our society during the last couple decades, especially in our schools. It is exciting that males, and young adults, are exploring their spirituality. I don't think Bede has an agenda, was lamenting, is biased, or was celebrating men, but simply stating what he has seen, what is fact, and describing the current situation. Great news that the Guesthouse is bulging! . . . except when I want to book a stay. (:
Peace - Tim

Br Bede Thomas Mudge OHC said...

I will just have to say that what you are reading is entirely different from what I was saying. This, of course, happens when communication is entirely by print.

TKale said...

Dear Brother Bede,
I have such honor and respect for you and such love for Holy Cross Monastery. I know that you did not intend those things I heard, but I did want to point out a certain undercurrent -- that your supporter Tim dragged to the surface.
But these spring days are too beautiful for disagreement! Bravo for the continuing and ever-increasing success of the guesthouse!