Every now and then, and quite regularly, it is necessary to get away, to change the pace, to make time to think, meditate, and let others care for you. This is how I began 2006--on retreat at a small but remarkable place that is filled with folks who are really walking the walk.
I spent three and a half days at Bluestone Farm, part of Melrose Convent where some of the sisters of the Community of the Holy Spirit make their home. I was well acquainted with their other house on the Upper West Side of Manhattan--it was from them that I first learned about composting toilets. But the sisters up at Bluestone Farm are living one of my dreams--they are living organically, sustainably, and cooperatively in community.
Now, while I've always been drawn to monasteries and convents as a place to renew my spirit being a nun has never been my call. But if I were? This is the order with which I'd cast my lot. Bluestone Farm is all about really living as if all of creation mattered. They live lightly on the land, grow their own, and truly understand the sacredness in preparing and eating wholesome food.
So after some time in retreat I joined the sisters for their Tuesday morning baking wherein I learned how to make tofu (they make theirs from soybeans they grow--I'm telling you, they are hard core!), how to make tortillas, I tasted raw milk (finally!) and had the most delicious lunch of squashes and roasted root vegetables ever. Most of the food came from right next to the house, including the maple syrup used in one of the dishes that came from trees on their property. I love this place. And I look forward to what they have to teach me about my own journey of living sustainably.
But above all, I hope to learn how to translate living sustainably in a monastic community into my urban one of Syracuse. In some ways, a convent is very close to a co-housing community but with vows thrown in. Though I don't share a home/house with the members of the Syracuse community, I do feel that we hold things in common and share the earth as our home. If even those of us in the University Hill area pledged to live more sustainably--together--what a difference that could make. And what a difference that would make in our relationships to one another and to the planet.
I'll be mullling over this experience for some to come--and looking forward to my next visit.