I'm off to The Mountain today. Around these parts people understand that phrase to mean Sewanee, a.k.a. the University of the South, the Holy Mountain, the seminary... I lived in Sewanee (or what I liked to refer to as "Metro Sewanee") for nearly three years, and although it's true that it's a beautiful place when you can get to an edge for one of these views, when you're driving arounds its roads it's just like any other rural place. Most of the views up on the Cumberland Plateau are from private homes in gated communities, which strikes me as a cruel injustice since the county adjacent to the one in which Sewanee is situated is one of the poorest in the state. That's a topic for another day. (The other view below is taken from the deck at St. Mary's Convent. Now there's a group of women who totally deserve a private view!)
This sunset view predates the notion of that kind of exclusion. It's taken from the small area of grounds that surround what is known as the Sewanee Cross (second picture). The valley below is called Hawkins Cove, settled ages ago by a family named, of all things, Hawkins. It is a wonderful view, and I was grateful when I lived there to have the opportunity to visit it.
Today I am heading to the mountain for a small gathering of clergy for an overnight visit with our bishop at St. Mary's Center. He began these gatherings last spring, and this is the second iteration of such an event. Eight of us meet informally for conversation around questions that the bishop has determined in advance. It's "guided sharing" along the lines of guided imagery, except that our eyes are open. Or so one hopes, at least in the figurative sense. It was fruitful time the last time I attended, and I expect it will be again.
Except for two things against which I need to caution myself not to have expectations. I know of two other colleagues that will be there. One of them is a person who really pushes my buttons. This is one of those opportunities to practice all manner of Christian charity, tolerance, patience, and a "love thy neighbor" approach. I will endeavor to do so. This isn't God's humor at work so much as a potential opportunity for the relationship, such as it is, to experience transformation. Or not. We shall see.
The other person will be a challenge for entirely different reasons that have nothing to do with him personally. I won't go into the circumstances of that here, but there are some boundary issues (my perception, I own that) that may interfere with feeling free to share what I might choose to say otherwise. Cryptic, I know, and for that I apologize. I am hoping that the presence of these two colleagues won't mitigate what can otherwise be a healthy and needed time away. I will pray for that, and for whatever surprises of the delightful kind that God might have in store for me. I've got enough challenges right now to warrant wanting only delightful surprises.
So off I go, with a stop along the way to look for something to wear to the wedding this weekend, and with a little additional time, with camera in hand, to see what sorts of other surprises await me on the journey of these two days. Blessings, all, until I can greet you again.