The reality of L'Abri, in this moment, is something I wish I could draw you all in to to experience for an evening. It was series of simple events that are so easy to connect with - the connection I was longing for when I came here the first time.
As I write, now, Emily is playing Chopin on the piano, Liz is painting, and a few folks have the cards out.
The evening.. well, I guess I want to hop to the morning. This entire post might just be snippets of glimpses of blinks from the day.
The morning started with all of us gathered around the fire that I had just started. As I arranged the wood and coaxed the flame into something that could sustain itself, Liz read poetry to me. We broke bread together, I love breakfast, as a means of slowly waking ourselves up. Post-breakfast, Erin, Matt, and I took a 45 minute wander in the snow, up and down the hill and through the woods. Narnia was on all of our minds as we walked through tunnels of snow laden trees that we could set free from the weight of the snow with a pull on the branches. Back home, it took only a few seconds to shake off the cold in front of the fire.
I left the house to go help Julia out at the Cedar House. As I left, Matt was up to his ears in flour in the kitchen making bread. I trompled through the snow past the barn where Tim was chopping the firewood that we use to keep our house warm. Inside the Cedar House, Julia was making lunch for the community. I swept the house for a bit and tidied up before everyone came over for tea. The entire community gathered together over pots of Earl grey and peppermint tea. I had S.B. in my lap which kept me warm and altogether satisfied. After 30 minutes of sipping tea, everyone dispersed. I got S.B. and S, her older brother geared up to go play in the snow. I was warned that they might not make it past 15 minutes but, 45 minutes later and they were still delighted to be surrounded in the white fluff. We reached the door and little S.B. was very adamant that she wanted to stay outdoors.
Lunch was magical tomato/peanut sauce with brown rice and a large salad. We picked a discussion topic and bantered on about it, back and forth, over the next hour and a half. Dessert was freshly made banana bread and folks with intolerances, like me, were treated to dishes of just-cut fruit - pears and oranges. It was delicious. Angela and I helped clean up and then the second part of the day began.
It's up to me to do all the laundry in the house - all the laundry for around nine or ten people. I worked on some towels but really didn't have much to do. I meandered upstairs quickly where dinner was being made and bread was being freshly pulled out of the oven by Matt. Down the hall, the other kitchen, Liz was stirring her granola as it toasted in the oven. The collision of smells sent my body into a joyous frenzy of warmth and giddy.
We all hang out in the kitchen, right by the fire. Angela and Matt were making pasta with a basil pesto sauce. Over dinner, we all talked about why we are all here.
It's hard to relate the connection in words. I can tell you what we did, but I can't spell out exactly how I want to tell you about how I feel about this term's group, so far. They're the sort of people that I find myself skipping through the woods in the snow with, all of us singing at the top of our lungs.
L'Abri is a place where you can have long, meaningful connections without ever feeling like you're in a rush. The same conversation can go on for hours and then, the next day, you could pick up where you left off. People aren't afraid to ask challenging questions and while small talk is present, it can more easily be skipped over after days and days of spending all of our time together.
After dinner, we were planning on watching the American vs Canadian men's hockey team game at the Olympics but we never really got around to it. Music was made, something I always enjoy. We gathered around Ingrid Michaelson tabs for a mini sing-along. Liz prompted Matt, our resident Texas historian, to tell us the history of the Alamo and we all sat in silence, listening to him recount the history of Texas.
I thought my night was over at 11 PM as I bid farewell to the crew gathered in the kitchen - Liz, Matt, and Tim. I thought it was - until Liz asked if anyone wanted to go our for a walk out in the snow. How could I turn down a night walk? We geared up and I grabbed my head lamp before setting off into the silent night. We found ourselves contently marching down a side trail in the woods, totally surrounded by peace and beauty, absolute perfection. It was around an hour later that we made it back home to settle into silent sleep.
I love L'Abri.
I love that we don't rush to computers to look thing out. I value that possibilities of having access to instant knowledge, but it's nice to have it taken away for a bit. The other day, when ready, I came upon a word I didn't know. I grabbed the dictionary. We'll ask each other reference questions and learn from the knowledge of each other. The conversion of Fahrenheit to Celsius took up half of an entire breakfast discussion as we tried to figure out how how 120 F really was. If you don't know something, you can find it in a book. You can ponder. You can write it down for later.
I am thriving here.
I am growing.
I feel loved.
I feel love.
I am grateful to be here.
I am back home at L'Abri, the shelter.