Three Chairs

            Three empty chairs were filled by three friends. Two of the friends have been married more than 40 years. The other chair was filled by a former Associate Pastor who once worked with the husband, who was the Senior Pastor of that particular church. The friendship is almost three decades old. Like good wine, great movies, and fond memories this friendship gets better with age.

            The three friends found each other this week on the gorgeous, sloping lawn of Holy Cross Monastery. The day broke clear and pleasantly cool on this late spring morning. One by one, the three friends walked from the old, brick Guesthouse of the monastery, each with a steaming mug of coffee. Even though the monastery was in a period of silence, which was not to be broken until 9:00 a.m.; the friends couldn’t help themselves. They talked quietly, laughed softly, a safe distance from the rest.

            What did the friends talk about? Family, the older pastor’s recent retirement Sunday, mutual friends—the conversation meandered like a comfortable, worn pathway through the woods.

            The wife of this pastor has noted a few times this week that when her husband retired two Sundays ago, eight people who gather twice a year at Holy Cross Monastery made the trip to honor her and her husband. She couldn’t get over it even as she nailed what we find here among the many scattered blessings of visiting Holy Cross Monastery. There is a Christian community formed here and found here every six months.

             What makes it a Christian community? Partly it’s by-product of the things we do here. We pray. We worship with the monastic community. We study and we share our lives at depth with each other. We go deep fairly quickly and reliably, every six months, once in November and again in May.

            You ask me: why do you keep going to this monastery? I’ll tell you that when I can sit with Jonathan and Karin Miller, or anyone else who is able to make the trip, I find that the gates to the kingdom of God open wide to us all. We are always glad to add a chair or two or ten.