A pool in Abbot Brook, close by our yurt chapel. We’re quite certain Abbot Brook in January is much colder than the Jordan River was for Jesus and John!
Over here at the Metanoia homestead, we just had our family cold water plunge to celebrate the Baptism of the Lord (January 9th on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar). This day marks the end of the Christmas season, commemorates Jesus’ baptism, and also remembers the start of His active ministry. Marking the end of the Christmas feasting season, this celebration also arrives at just about the time I’m starting to feel new energy with the lengthening days of early January. The end of the feast season, new energy with the lengthening days, meditating on the start of Jesus’ mission, and then a good douse of wild, very cold water – it’s a perfect wake-up call and invitation to get back to work.
While there has been plenty of good work here on the homestead, you’ve probably noticed I’ve done precious little writing on Substack this past half year. I suppose the primary reason is our ongoing adjustment to life as a family of four (our son Luke was born a day before the summer solstice). We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have two additional long-term residents stay with us, as well – one for two months, and one who arrived in November and will be with us for a full cycle of the seasons. The additional hands lighten the physical load somewhat, though I still spent a good part of December racing a deadline while attaching cedar shingles up on the gable ends of our guesthouse. Of course, there is always the work of subsistence as well – hauling water, cutting firewood, and raising and harvesting our food – this was a good year for squash, green beans, apples, chickens and sheep.
The work I’m most proud of, however, is the way our little community has continued to deepen our practice of prayer as we’ve grown in the number of both children and adults. We need to stay alert and flexible keeping the liturgy of the hours with small children – each month brings a new set of needs and inclinations, and we end up tweaking our schedule to make it all hold together. Yet somehow, the prayer life here continues to strengthen, and deepen. Lisa and I have often discussed the image of a river as a metaphor for spiritual life with family and children – dynamic, full of life, and ever changing. It contrasts with the more established image of the mountain in Christian spirituality, which seems to point towards the attributes of monastic life – austere, silent, and unchanging. The river is a clarifying image for our life at Metanoia. We’re not trying to be ‘married monastics’ – a contradiction in terms! Our goal is rather to live as fully, deeply, and intentionally into the Way of Christ as monks and nuns do, but from the river of marriage, family, and lay community rather than the ‘mountain of silence’ of monastic life.
My hope and intention is to write much more frequently in 2023. I’ve been humbled and encouraged by the number of new subscribers that have found their way to us in spite of the rare postings. In a few days, we’ll be sending out a transcript (and a podcast, for those who prefer to listen) of a conversation I recently had with my friend (and Metanoia board member) Pastor Robin Junker-Boyce on Jesus’ teaching of loving our enemies. We’ll follow that with a similar posting on the practice of forgiveness in a few weeks, followed by a series on the foundations of Christian spirituality. I find there are insights that emerge more easily in my conversations with Robin than when I sit down alone in front of a computer. I’m excited to use this format more often, and we plan to continue to have discussions for monthly postings this year. In the off-weeks, Lisa and I will aim to send reflections that emerge from our life on the land – a bit shorter and more land and practice based than our past posts. Our days are filled with beautiful moments and insights – and very few times when it’s easy to sit down for long-form writing. Our hope is that shifting to shorter, more frequent posts will sync our writing more closely with the reality of our rhythm of work, prayer and study on the land.
I pray you are feeling the renewal of both the Christmas season and the growing light, and that your 2023 is off to a blessed start.
Thank you for this photo and for paying attention to the rhythm of the Real Life you are living and sharing with us that reality. Your writing is encouraging and consoling.
It's good to hear from you again! And it's great that you'll be posting more often, I'm still trying to find the way to accomplish that myself. Happy 2023!