Beautiful memories from Morbacka Retreat Home came back while I looked through old photos for this post. All the pictures were taken in January 2007. I hope one day we will hold annual young adults’ pilgrimage weekends at Lunesdale Community; that was so significant to my formation. Thank you to everyone who played a part in them! Here is the second bit of the article I promised.
Experiences from communities
Our large house acts as a reminder of how much we have been given. All good things come from God, and I think they are meant to be shared with others. Many times I have come to notice that sharing something doesn’t mean that I lose somehow, but rather it makes it more special.
We are ultimately looking for long-term members, and although someone might come to stay only a little while with us, the purpose is not just offering accommodation. This has lead to a change in my attitude to receiving guests. We would like to promote equality among members and avoid the host-guest hierarchy. Hospitality means including people in our everyday life and tasks, and this can hopefully make them feel “part of us”. Work and play continue, while gardening, doing the laundry or setting the table belongs to everybody. Guests have indeed done their best to participate in the activities, and after sharing some of the mundane as well as the extraordinary times of life, have moved on. My hope is that they take away an experience of being accepted and included.
Anyone staying with the community also plays a part in offering hospitality. The one doing the dishes today is also tomorrow’s host through their participation and service. Anyone can be at the giving or receiving end as part of the greater whole, and all tasks can be seen to serve the common good. Serving others in everyday gestures give life meaning regardless of talent or qualifications.
I measure many community-related aspects in terms of the Morbacka Community in Finland, where I used to visit for young adults’ weekends and retreats. I don’t care much for extravagance or pretentiousness, but homeliness and the sharing of simple pleasures make an impression on me. In the experience of hospitality which Morbacka provided, the most important things were the place being so cosy and steeped in love and there being time for un-rushed conversations. A perfect addition was coming into the unreserved presence of God in the daily prayers.