Sunday, August 20, 2006


Which means, literally, "good gathering". It is the name of an a.r.p. conference center, and also the name of a good gathering that is an annual pilgrimage + rehearsal+family reunion for our chancel choir. This year's gathering was very different--the director of music, after a tenure of twenty-seven years, had retired, and an interim director, Charlotte, led the music. All went well, I think.

We headed that way on Friday afternoon, going by Junaluska, which is not on the way, but another group from our church was attending a conference there (it does sometimes seem that many of our congregants are in the mountains for most of the summer, and who can blame them). While there we also got to have a (too brief) conversation with two special friends from a former church, Ellen and Ernie. We then had lasagna in a home overlooking the lake, that Joe and Kay rent each summer, and then Pam and I drove to Bon Clarcken.

Bonclarcken is situated in Flat Rock, North Carolina, which is best known as the home of Carl Sandburg, which he named "Connemara", and now also the location of the State Theatre of North Carolina. Flat Rock was also a summer haven for the gentry of Charleston, South Carolina, who wanted to escape the summer heat and the malaria of the low country. It is near Kanuga, the Episcopal Conference Center, and I did make my way to their bookstore over the weekend, during the Saturday afternoon break. They have a very fine bookstore.

My role at Bonclarcken was basically pastoral--I tried to sit at a different table each meal (over one hundred were in attendance), and I had a several extended conversations with parisioners I had really only known in passing.

I would occasionally go into the chapel, and there I would take a seat in the very back pew and listen to the choir as they rehearsed music that they would sing later into the fall and even into Advent. This morning I led a service of word and Holy Communion. I preached on Psalm 150 ("Let everything that breathes praise the Lord"). Abe served the bread and I served the cup. Then we had the last meal, and I caught a ride back with Abe, who is our retired minister of visitation (and one of the saints of this world). We stopped at a peach orchard in South Carolina (I wish I knew the name of it, for it is worth knowing about), and I bought a basket of peaches for the staff and a few neighbors. Abe and I also each had a homemade peach ice cream cone. It was superb!

And now, down from the mountain once again. There is a beloved church member who has just received the bad news of a cancer diagnosis. There is our older daughter, now returned to Chapel Hill, and we already miss her. There is the beginning of high school in a few days. There is mail to sort through, and some emails waiting at the office. There is a sermon next week.

Bonclarcken is indeed a "good gathering", and it marks the year well. Being there reminded me that life is really a series of ritual events, journeys to special and out of the way places, and afterward the return to normalcy, one hopes.

I am grateful, once again, for Bonclarcken.


Blogger Questing Parson said...

To enjoy homemade peach ice cream is one of the great joys of life.

To lord it over we who didn't is a sin.

7:14 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home