Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Mid-Summer Visit to L'Abri

This weekend I ended up back at an old "home" spot of mine, Bowen Island. Remember earlier this year and the adventures at L'Abri? Well, I was there once more.

I spent a few months at L'Abri during the spring of this year and, if you've been reading for this long, you might remember that it was a really hard time for me. Emotions were high and intense and everybody was feeling it. It was overwhelming and sometimes I wondered why I even put myself there. At the end of term, I didn't want to go back for a while...

Well, I thought I'd stay away, but my heart had other plans and it got a huge twang of missing all the folks there one day and I decided to venture back for a few days.

I've probably explained L'Abri about 12 times on this blog, so I'm going to skip most of the spiel - but, basically, L'abri's a rad community of people asking questions and working through "stuff." Folks generally come for just 3 months, so generally, if a "term" was over, next term would have an entirely new lot of folks.

A lot of folks, though, from the Spring term are there for the Summer term - a lot of them. So, when I went back, it was like having almost the same term all over again. I had the opportunity to see the folks I had grown so close to.

To accompany me, this time, I had the company of David, Hans David. I met him about a month and a half ago at the farmer market and have gotten to know him a bit better over the past week or two. He had heard of L'Abri before from Hannah and expressed a desire to go someday. I invited him on the short trip and he was able to find the time to go to Canada. It would be his first time in Canada since he was 8 and the highest north he'd ever been.

I was grateful for his company - especially for the drive. I'm not a huge fan of driving, so it was nice to have someone else who could take the wheel for a bit. Tobbit was on the mainland the morning we left, so he picked me up at 6:30 AM on his motorcycle which we left at the Lopez Island ferry parking lot, crossed over, and got a ride with Todd to Tobbit who was just a mile from the ferry terminal on the mainland.

Crossing the border, this time, wasn't as eventful as uual. Yes, I got pulled over so they could check Tobbit - this is almost a given that I expect will happen each time I try to get into Canada. We went inside, got interrogated, left to sit in silence for a good chunk of time, and then sent off on our merry little way. A quick stop at Tim Horton's and we were set to go catch our next ferry to Bowen Island out of Horseshoe Bay. We bought our ticket and made it to the line just, just as the tip of the line was driving onto the ferry - made it just in time.

The second ferry crossing of the day was short and sweet and as comfortable as ever. My brain flipped through my memories of the ferry and it gave me one of those fuzzy feelings.

Snug Cove!
Up the hill, up the island, towards the golf course --- welcome to L'Abri.

As soon as we pulled in, my favourite familiar faces (Jessamy, Sofia, Tim, and Matt) run out of the home and they came to greet me with the snuggest of hugs, so reassuring. I was so stoked to see them again. I was stoked to be in their company. I was stoked to be around people who I knew had seen me at my worst, yet still would run out to give me a hug. I felt like a sweet homecoming. I felt secure and safe. These people know me! They know and love me. Welcome home. Welcome home.

A quick introduction was made between the community and David and the L'Abri rhythms soon picked us up and carried us through the rest of the day.

I gave him a quick tour and then we ate the leftovers from lunch they had saved for us - bangers and mash, my favourite meal of mashed potatoes and sausages with onion. So, so good.

Tea time started at 4:30 PM and, without me realizing, Tim let it run an extra thirty minutes. After the tea time, Tim let me join him on working on the ping-pong table. A lot of tasks at L'Abri could be done by one person, but we don't just work to get things done. Working is a time when we can process out thoughts, get to know each other, and, in this case, catch up on the past few months. Since I last saw him, Tim has started working at L'Abri, got a dog, and obtained an automobile.

Out the window I could see Samuel and Ethan play. Samuel ran and gave me such a fantastic hug which topped me off with a subtle level of giddyness. I love that little guy. Later on, he was playing and all of a sudden shouted out, "I LOVE YOU MAY-GEE!" Back when he was a tiny tot, he used to asperate my name, starting up with a solid breathe-in of "MAY" before sighing-out "gheeeee."

Life soon felt like L'Abri. All the rhythms were there. THe people were there. I was one happy camper.

It's always a bit of a gamble bringing any two worlds together to collide - in this case, introducing Hans to the L'Abri community. In this circumstance, it was a smooth collision and worked out well. Hans David was chill and the L'Abri folks were chill. I was grateful.

That night we did a quick run to the liquor store to get some beer to fuel us through a night of reading to each other. We parked Tobbit in the cul-de-sac and read Lord of the Rings to each other. I only made it through a few pages before I got sleepy and ended up falling asleep in Tobbit. Someone else drove the truck back home while I dozed off in the back. It was a surprisingly comforting sensation. Back at L'Abri, everyone slipped into their beds and I ended up sleeping in Tobbit, as usual. I generally get a solid night's sleep in Tobbit so it makes sense to sleep in him when I can instead of gambling ill sleep in a new bed.

In the morning, breakfast was French toast and bacon by Matt.
Most of the crew went to church 'cept Sofia, David, and I. We ended up heading out to Cape Roger Curtis for a meander. Then we swung by to catch the end of church so I could see a few folks. We went further down the road and parked by the Knick Knack Nook and set off, barefootedly, down the trail as it rained down on us. We found some giant trees and climbed inside.

Later, we made it to my favourite spot on the island - the fish ladder. It's a lush area of water falling from pool to pool and large rocks, perfect for climbing, and trees all over. Even though it's public and so easy to get to from town, it still feels secluded and I feel calm whenever I'm there.

Here we split - Sofia went into town and David and I went to find a place on the island to read. We ended up at the trail head for Mount Gardner. I was reading East of Eden and he was reading a book that makes up the foundations of Epicureanism (if I remember correctly, which I probably don't). We read. and read. and read. And hiked a short bit.

The night before, he had pointed out a picture on a beer bottle that resonated with him -- on the way home to L'Abri, I took him to where that picture had reminded me of - Radar Hill. It involves some rough roads (not really roads) and Tobbit took 'em like a champ.

Back home, everyone was preparing to head out again for High Tea, a special dinner every Sunday evening at L'Abri. Tim had made for us Potachos and he blogged about it here.

As the food was being set up and a fire being made, Tim spotted a small crew of whales in the distance. They stuck around for a while and we all watched in wonder.

After the meal, stories were to be shared. Tim kicked off the evening with a beautiful Czech story with princes and princesses and magical foxes -- complete with some excellent accents that made us all laugh. It was a pity that it got late so quickly because Hans David and I had to make an early departure in order to catch our ferry.

At the ferry terminal, we got there early enough to be able to walk around, check out the look out, follow our ears to see who was make live music, dance in the grass, and go the store to buy some beer.

Can you see the sleeping giant?

Once on the ferry, my oil was checked again (too low, too low - Tobbit is sick) and we topped him off in preparations for the long drive back to Anacortes. It was a long drive. David was fine with driving and did until we reached the border where border patrol asked why he was driving with an expired license. Thank goodness I got mine a few months ago and could take over. Thank goodness the border patrol was kind enough to let us switch places and let us go on without a hitch or a fine or a pause.

I drove on and on until I was getting a bit too sleepy. David made a remark and offered to take the wheel. We decided that it was worth the risk to have him drive because, in the long run, that was the safer choice. If, for some bizarre reason, we did get pulled over, we had confidence in our choice to be able to explain it to the police. Safety trumps legalities of expired licenses at 1 in the morning.

Safe to Cindy's we were able to crash for a few hours before getting up in time for David to catch the 6:15 AM ferry. I stuck around most of the day at Cindy's before meandering to the ferry to get myself home.

The End.


  1. Oh man, lovely pics, makes me nostalgic. So excited to go there in a week! It's fun just being a student, eh?

    1. So nice! I just got to be there... and be there... and and and... yes, very fun.


Your words make me grin.

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