Abbey Chat April 14, 2008
[Reprinted from a recent post to the UA Listserv]
I spent a few hours this weekend digging in the backyard, preparing a spot to plant some tomatoes, herbs and peppers. At this time of year my mind turns to gardening, even though it's too early to plant. In gardening, like life, there is a season for everything, and this is the time for preparation. Planting will come later and the harvest much, much later – but now, in early Spring, we simply prepare the soil and wait.
Evelyn Underhill, an astute observer of the spiritual life, draws powerful images of spiritual formation from the gardening experience. She says: "All gardeners know the importance of good root development before we force the leaves and flowers. So our life in God should be deeply rooted and grounded before we presume to expect to produce flowers and fruits; otherwise we risk shooting up into one of those lanky plants which can never do without a stick. We are constantly beset by the notion that we ought to perceive ourselves springing up quickly, like the seed on stony ground, showing striking signs of spiritual growth. But perhaps we are only required to go on quietly, making root, growing nice and bushy; docile to the great slow rhythm of life." [Lent with Evelyn Underhill, 2nd edition,Morehouse Publishing (1990) p. 98]
In the life of the Urban Abbey we are entering a new season, maybe not yet the season for planting, but definitely a season of preparation…for a new program year and, soon, a new Leadership Team. The Abbess/Abbott joins with 3-5 Abbey members to form a team which takes primary responsibility for the coming year's Abbey events. If you are a member of the Abbey, are you called to be a member of this team? Is this your season for making root or, perhaps, for sending out leaves and flowers? I ask each Abbey member to give some thought and prayer to this question and consider whether you are called, at this time, to serve the Abbey in a leadership role. Over the next few weeks we will be forming a new Leadership Team, aiming to have a complete group in place before the June meeting (date yet to be determined). You might consider discussing your possible role in theLeadership Team with your listening group, since the listening group can help us discern a call we may not hear so clearly ourselves. Others often see in us those qualities we have difficulty seeing in ourselves. (I speak from recent personal experience!) I would be happy to talk to any of you about this possibility if it interests you, if you wonder whether what you feel might be considered a"call," or if you see this possibility in the future of another Abbey member. Please email me if you would like to discuss this.
Raima Larter, Abbess, Urban Abbey