This week in Madonna House was a little less than ordinary, deo gratias. If memory serves, I posted this weekly column a bit early last week, since a week ago today was the annual March for Life in Ottawa.
I won’t write about it at this point (old news!), but about fifteen to twenty MH people, myself included, took part in that event this year. For myself, it is a day of intense prayer, witness, and personal presence in the midst of a most distressing and tragic reality of our modern world, which is that human life is not protected from its beginning, and that our society has chosen to pit the very real needs and rights of women against those of their own children in a sick sort of zero sum game. It needn’t be that way, but it is, and it is to our shame that it is so.
Two of our members stayed in for the youth conference the following day, staffing a book table. MH is a small community, but our longevity and apostolic vitality in the Canadian Church is shown by how appreciated our presence at these big events is. It is always a day when we deepen our connections with the many, many people who have been touched by MH over the years.
Coming back to the home front, the Directors’ Meetings continue. Speaking personally, these have taken up most of my time since they began. While I cannot say much about them in this public forum obviously, they have been a very rich sharing together of the work of God in our community. One word of wisdom from one our elders, though, struck me as something to share: “Death to self really means surrendering the right to have everything figured out.” Amen. And so we strive, not so much to figure stuff out, but to discern, as Catherine Doherty put it, the footprints of Christ etched on the soil of the world, so that we may walk forward in them faithfully.
It has become the custom during the meetings to have a speaker come in and give us some presentation on something or other that will aid our communal reflection. This year we didn’t organize anything; we didn’t have to, as it happens, since a local friend and neighbor invited Heather King to the area to speak, and she was more than happy to come to MH and include us in her talks.
For those who don’t know her (and can’t be bothered to click the above link), King is a writer and speaker out of Los Angeles, who has written much on her own experience of addiction, recovery, conversion, brokenness, grace, faith, with considerable depth, beauty, and humor.
It turns out that she has a long acquaintance with Catherine Doherty and MH, and so she was delighted for the chance to come and meet us. She writes about her visit here, although she makes us sound a bit like Amish superheroes or something in that post (churning butter at the speed of sound! Leaping tall woodsheds with a single bound!), which is deeply amusing.
Her time with us was a deep encounter of heart with heart, life with life. Superficially her life is utterly different from ours, a writer living alone in the heart of urban LA, but the spirit out of which she lives and pursues her vocation as writer was so one with our spirit that she was able to connect deeply with us in a very short time.
Beyond that, I can’t do justice to her talks and time with us, but I encourage people to look her up if
you’re not familiar with her, and read her books. She’s a real gem.
Beyond that, MH is a bustling place these days. The gardens remain a key priority in our work at this time. We planted onions together one evening after supper. Other crops are going into the ground as well, and there is much field work going on to prepare the earth for further sowing. The weather has been wet and warm, which is just what you want for the planting season. We are building a new cabin at our Cana Colony, the family camp we have run for almost 60 years, so as to better accommodate the many families who apply for that experience.
The guests have been few in number, but they are trickling in at a steady pace. Lots of short termers right now—students coming for a week or two after their year ends, that kind of thing. And life goes on here in its normal blessed way—lots of work, lots of prayer, lots of love and the struggle to love. And that’s all I can think about what happened ‘this week in Madonna House’.