Much of the past several days have been in preparation for the welcoming of the members of the Iona Community. For as often as we say goodbye, we say hello with the same frequency, but for the past couple of weeks it has been saying hello to old friends. Last week was the worship resource group of the community here to work on different ways of worshipping together. Many of the people that attend that week have been here previously. This week we welcome the people who have committed, or are in the process of committing themselves to the life and work of the community in the world. So these are people that visit perhaps even more than once a year. It has a bit of the feel of our Annual or General Conference gatherings, although they don't seem to have the same governmental agenda we have. But clearly this is a time when they come together after a lengthy separation, and include a time of introductions so each will know precisely who are in attendance. If we had only sung "And are we yet alive," it may have seemed like home. The theme of the week is "Gender Justice" and the workshops of the week will focus upon discussions in that area.
They even have a special celebration, welcoming people who have newly committed to the ideals of the community, and of course, that celebration must include food. So the two kitchens have worked for three or four days towards a huge luncheon, which was served across two centres. Imagine having your main course in one place and walking (hiking) up the road for the dessert course. Although the kitchen I work in was in the "dessert" centre, each kitchen worked on both courses, so there was much ferrying of food and serving utensils back and forth. So it amounted to a very, busy and long day, but punctuated with the fun and hospitable nature of feeding and caring for others. More than once through the day I was reminded of Jesus' feeding of the 5000 (we only served a little over 200), and how that worked not only because of the miracle of Jesus, but the preparation someone had gone into to pack a little child's lunch.
This was a thin place.