Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A friend of God

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecVadP305o4

After an intense period of work in Russia in 2000/01 that laid the foundations for Forus Bank (http://forusbank.ru/en/), I decided to take a sabbatical. Having been acclimatised to a continental climate (in Russia), I found myself by the shores of Lake Michigan, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, at the Friends of God Dominican ashram, an experimental contemplative community of a small group of Dominican Friars and a Sister. It had been founded by Father Don Goergen OP, former provincial, theologian and holy man (with a puzzling but endearing fondness for rabbits - one of whom, John Dominic, plump and indolent [or highly contemplative] shared the library with us)!

I spent a fabulous six months in prayer, fellowship and nature (the lakeshore was a two minute walk from the house) and learnt much. Most compelling was the gift of hospitality - people came to the ashram of all kinds, gifts, dispositions, needs and offerings and all, like myself, were welcomed and acknowledged as unique persons bearing God's image and each person called to fashion that unique personhood after the divine image. A journey beautifully captured in the talk, given earlier this year, on divination (see the link above).

Don is in London tomorrow on a trip to celebrate his 70th birthday and I am greatly looking forward to seeing him (after too long a hiatus). A mutual Dominican friend said to me recently that Don was the person he would go to should he come to the end of his tether. I concur.

Friends of God was an Dominican appellation coined after those who followed in the path of Christ, nurtured by the teachings of the great Dominican mystical theologian, Meister Eckhart but, in truth, it is a simple statement of the invitation of the Gospel. I call you not servants but friends as Jesus washes the disciples' feet. We are called into friendship and in the binding of that friendship, God is.

It is a truth to which Don's life is a happy sign.


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