The Buchele Adventure

This is record of the Buchele Adventure, as reported from West Africa.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Lebh Shomea House of Prayer: Introduction

[The Big House]

Lebh Shomea House of Prayer: Introduction

It’s been a lifetime since my last visit to Lebh Shomea. When I was here last (November 2005), I received a txt from Suzanne, that we might be moving to Africa. Suzanne had just passed the first stage of three in the Fulbright process. Here it is five years, six months later and it is good to be back.

Lebh Shomea House of Prayer is a “House,” a “Community.” and a “School” of Prayer, a place of silence and solitude I have come to before.

Day begins at 6:30am when the bell rings awakening you for the daily celebration of Eucharist, followed by breakfast, lunch, silent prayers, and dinner. All in silence except for the spoken prayers that began the day.

The silence begins to work on me as soon as I arrive shifting from whatever panic brought me here, to the peace the place eventually brings. The name Lebh Shomea is Hebrew for listening heart. Each day sees guests arriving as humans beings on a spiritual journey, leaving days, weeks as into spiritual beings on a human journey.

Little changes in this place, especially in the breakfast and dinner menus, which are very simple. The Lunch, which is the main meal of the day, is always interesting cooked from what the ranch produces, and with the ranch hands and staff joining us, so lots of new faces.

By day two the silence is settling in, and by the fourth, complete conversations are had with nary a spoken word. What would the silence be like for those who come longer than a week, a month, a year, or a lifetime? For me 9 days will be enough, though I am intrigued by a longer 40 day wilderness experience.

[my room on the third floor of the Big House]

What - you’re not happy to see us?”

On Sunday the silence breaks between noon and 1pm when speakng is allowed at Lunch. Conversation is lively as we quickly learn the names of the friends we only know as faces from sharing worship and meals. Then a quick trip to the “beach” is organized for the afternoon. Beach is a generous term, but it is a welcome change from the silence of the Big House and there is more time to ponder, so what brought you to Lebh Shomea. And then Sunday afternoon comes, the enforced silence returns, and I miss the companionship. It think of Eat, Pray, Love (the book, not the movie), when everything is going well for Liz in Italy and then depression and loneliness …

They come upon me all silent and menacing like Pinkerton Detectives, and they flank me – Depression on my left, Loneliness on my right. They don’t need to show me their badges. I know these guys very well. We’ve been playing a cat-and-mouse game for years now. Though I admit that I am surprised to meet them in this elegant Italian garden at dusk. This is no place they belong.

I say to them, “how did you find me here? Who told you I had come to Rome?”

Depression, always the wise guy, says, “what – you’re not happy to see us?”

I am lonely after the day’s festivities, I had worked so hard to quiet my soul, to let my spirit catch up with my body, and now a bit depressed I have to do it all over again. But its part of the experience I’ve come to expect. One of the others who has been coming here off and on for 30 years says “there is only one rule to this place, keep you mouth shut…do that long enough and all sorts of stuff comes up you need to deal with.”

[The Beach]

I came knowing what I had to deal with: I needed to find my way back to the happy little associate pastor place. You see my lead pastor had taken an eleven week leave of absence, and left me in charge all through Lent and the five weeks proceeding it. Being in charge, I unpacked a whole box of lead pastor tools that wouldn’t work so well if he returned from leave. He did, and as part of our negotiations before he left, he drove me to the Greyhound station this stay at Lebh Shomea. The plan was to wipe down my lead pastor tools, and pack them away. As my previous senior pastor told me, “Steve, a Church can have only one pastor,” but that God St. Philip’s isn’t that kind of church.

So during my days here I’ve studied Rob Bell’s amazing new book Love Wins, involved myself in a lengthy Bible study on healing, reading books on Sabbath, healing, The Gospel of Thomas (which I’ve read every time I’ve come here), learning to pray in the Celtic Iona tradition. I thought about changes I want to make in my ministry and practice of life and took long walks and a ridiculous number of pictures.

Up Next: Listening…


Post a Comment

<< Home