I began barn interviews in earnest this week with Saint Joseph's barn. This centennial barn, built in 1898, began its make-over twenty five years ago. It is the central retreat space for The Hermitage on Dutchsettlement Road, Three Rivers, MI.
David Wenger shared how a "chance" visit to this barn, eleven years ago, resulted in the call to move here from Washington DC. He and his wife Naomi are the co-directors.
"The spiral staircase is at the center of the character of St. Joseph's barn. As I go up and down it daily, cleaning, preparing rooms for guests, it reminds me to 'be still.'"
When David said this in our interview it made no sense to me. The narrow metal spiral is resoundingly loud under my footsteps in a place soaked in silence. I have always been terribly self conscious when walking on it when I am a retreat guest here. Clong! Clong! Clong!
The mystery was resolved on Sunday when the Wengers shared about their ministry in worship. Naomi shared the secret:
"David has practiced going up and down the spiral staircase silently, letting each foot fall gently and soundlessly on the steps. It is a kind of spiritual discipline."
Ah! Yes, now I see...er...hear. Such is the invitation of an old barn, an old soul, tending old souls of prayers who come away here -- to space made for God.
One more week of vibrant rural blogging to go as the liturgical and sabbatical year comes to a close.
peace and silence to all.
More on St. Joseph's Barn will be shared at storybarn.blogspot.com