Monday, 4 April 2011

The guest is God

The guest wing has opened, and we have our first official guests. Coincidentally, we have been reading from Chapter 53 in the Rule of Benedict on the Reception of Guests: "All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ".

I've been enjoying catching up on Tobias Jones' columns in the Guardian, about his family's community for people in crisis in a 10-acre woodland in Somerset. It's based on the Pilsdon Community near Bridport in Dorset, which was based on Nicholas Ferrar's Little Gidding and on the radical monasticism of the early Christian church. In his column, he describes the triumphs and trials, the nitty gritty of setting up a community, the members and the guests, and how they are caring for and making a living from the woodland. In one article, he writes about hospitality and their open-door policy: "hospitality has always been a sacred act, a cultural obligation through which people inadvertently glimpse the holy. In India they use the phrase from the Taittiriya Upanishad, "Atithi Devo Bhavah", meaning "The guest is God"... In Hebrew scriptures, Abraham and Sarah received guests who turned out to be angels."

Although in some ways it's very different from Mucknell, in others it's very similar. Perhaps you could say they are complementary.

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