“Come away for awhile” [Mark 6:31]
Friends, I wanted to let you know a little in advance about my holiday plans this summer. I will be away from August 10 and back just in time for our camping weekend, September 7-9 at Aspen Crossing.
The first week, I have the joy of returning to a happy place from my teenage years. For years, I was a camper at Pioneer Ranch Camp up at Rocky Mountain House. Finally, when I was 17, I was old enough to be a wrangler at their sister camp near Sundre, Pioneer Lodge. It was the greatest summer of my youth, and the place where Jesus broke into my life and changed everything. 20 years later, I’m going back again for a week to be a wrangler (horse riding leader) to a camp of girls aged 9-11. It’s a Christian camp, and I’m so looking forward to singing the old campfire songs (or maybe new ones), and sharing daily Bible study and faith life with the other leaders. Not to mention how much I’m looking forward to spending 10-12 hours a day on horseback in the beautiful foothills.
After that, Michael and I are heading to France to spend a week at the ecumenical Communaute of Taize in Burgundy. This extraordinary “monastery” in the midst of beautiful rolling hills is a place of pilgrimage for people from all over the world. Thousands of people travel there each week to share simple food, simple accommodations, prayers three times a day, and daily small group Bible studies with new friends from many countries. The prayers, though, are the highlight. Short phrases from Scripture are set into simple and beautiful songs which the whole congregation sing together. Imagine singing together with literally thousands of people, and listening to the rising and falling of multi-part harmonies that are spontaneously arising. Over the course of the week, praying and singing together three times each day, the congregation becomes a huge choir, learning to harmonize with one another, and keep time together, and sing in many languages together. When Michael and I were there 2 years ago, there were over 50 languages there for that week. You learn to sing in different languages by listening around you for the person who seems to know best how to pronounce the words! Before long, you can sing in Russian, Polish, Lakota, Portuguese, Kiswahili without any difficulty. It is a place of joy and beauty and simplicity and a powerful experience of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps in the future, there will be an opportunity to take a group from St. George’s! For a taste of what Taize is like, here’s a YouTube video. Other than our week at Taize, we’re spending some time in Paris and London.
While I’m away, we have a variety of clergy offering Sunday supply:
August 12 & 19 – Rev. Daranne Harris
August 26 – Rev. Bryan Beveridge
September 2 – Rev. Brian Way
Before I go, I’ll let you know who will be covering pastoral care while I’m away – but rest assured, you’ll be well looked after in my absence!