MISSIONARY TO THE WOODLANDS
“Together with the women and children, the brothers of Tyre walked with me down to the place where my boat was moored. When we reached the shore, we knelt down and prayed; then, after saying good-bye to each other, I set out on my journey and they returned to their homes.” – Acts 21:5b-6 paraphrased
I knew this day would come, it is present in the beginning. My days of study in Benedictine spirituality have come to their fulfillment, my time of Novitiate has run its course. Not able to take final vows – for reasons of family and faith – I now set out as a Benedictine soul on a voyage into the world beyond the Cloister. Oh, each day will still be measured by the keeping of the Daily Office, seven times for formal prayer. My life will still seek to follow the virtues of the Benedictine Rule, simplicity, humility, charity, stability, authenticity, and purity. And I will continue to tell others the stories of Greyfriars’ Abbey and the Brothers who live there. But the time has come – the Lord has so reassured me – to venture out on a mission into the further reaches of the realms of God and man, a missionary voyage in the Woodlands,
Early this morning, while the light was still first appearing, the Brothers of Greyfriars’ Abbey walked me down to the clearing by the river, a place not far from my hermitage, that cabin to which I last night gave my prayerful and thankful farewell. We spent a few minutes singing hymns and sharing prayers, the Brothers and me. Jazz the Abbey Cat was there to see me off, and I could hear Barnabas, my raven muse, cawing from a nearby pine. A parting gift from my Brothers was my straw work hat, all other trappings of my monastic existence now returned to the Abbey’s storehouse.
The Abbot took time to consecrate the new hermitage for this Voyageur. My hermitage now will be my restored 17′ Atkinson Traveler canoe, a restored wood and canvas canoe which I have named Pilgrim. Now fully loaded with my first cargo of supplies, she was ready and I was almost ready … to depart As the Brothers waved in their Benedictine peacefulness. I set out on my great adventure, reluctant yet excited … drawn by the smoke of a distant fire.
And so, my Loved Ones, I hope to share with you pages from my journal. I pray that they will prove to be spiritually guided reflections penned by the flickering light of my campfire and the glow of my Coleman lantern. They will be dispatches from wherever I might find myself at the end of my day’s journey. For those on my mailing list, the pages will bear the name, The Smoke of a Distant Fire. Those keeping up with me on Facebook and Twitter, check daily for my next entries in my contemplative journal.
My Loved Ones, as I grow older, I find that I have the ever-strengthening beckoning to keep journeying further on and further in. So as Robert Frost so famously voiced, …“I have miles to go before I sleep.” So with paddle in hand, I journey on, stroke by stroke, mile by mile, day by day, moment by moment … traveling with the Lord … and I do so hope … also with you.
Brother Anthony of the Cross, missionary to the Woodlands