Friday, November 14, 2008

Montecito Fire

Please keep praying for the Santa Barbara/Montecito area as they are battling the many fires burrning. A member of my ministry team just stopped by and updated me from her son that several Westmont Faculty members have lost their homes, two dorms have burnt down and one or two class buildings as well. There have been numerous fire companies here in the East Bay that have been dispatched down to the area to assist.

A friend (Thanks Britta) let me know early this morning that Mt. Calvary Retreat House and Monastery had burnt down. For many in the Los Angeles area, this place was a spiritual sanctuary. Built in the 20's and 30's, Mt. Calvary was purchased by the Order of the Holy Cross after its designers/owners suffered great losses in the depression. It contained a beautiful garden tended to by Brother William, two cottages where Brother Roy did calligraphy and Brother Joe created gorgeous iconography. A stone labyrinth graced all outdoors as well as vistas that made you feel like you were far removed from the urban landscape of LA.

For me Mt. Calvary held a very special place - it was one of the places where my spiritual life was resurrected after a long, dark dry spell. Two retreats in particular that I participated in taught me about servanthood and the need in my life for humility. I discovered and embraced spiritual disciplines of contemplative prayer, a rule of life and simplicity which are still a regular part of my spiritual life. In fact they are almost like oxygen to my spirit as I so often tire of the evangelical, purpose driven fodder that is passed off as spirituality in much of the church world. It was the place where I went after my dad died as I waited to head down to his funeral. The place where key decisions related to receiving my call took place. This past April, I took a larger step and became an Assoicate at Mt. Calvary - committing to support its work/ministry/life any way that I am able.

It is interesting to me how/where our sacred spaces are in the world. This was one of mine. I grieve that many will need to wait until it is rebuilt to encounter what many of us have experienced. I'm thankful for the role it's played in my world. And continue to pray for it daily as I look at the pictures of my last trip there in April daily in my office.

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