Sometimes we forget the reach of Kanuga. We tend to think of it as the place we know, limited by our own experience. And of course, there is nothing wrong with holding it close. It is, after all, special to each one of us because of our unique experience of the land and people.
However, I feel blessed most when I see the whole world of Kanuga and nothing makes this clearer than seeing our reach across the globe. My recent trip to London for the Compass Rose Society, aiding the work of the Anglican Communion, and a subsequent trip to France to connect with Kanugans there made this abundantly clear.
Kanuga and The Compass Rose Society
Kanuga has belonged to the Compass Rose Society. Our eighth president, Albert Gooch, understood the importance of connecting us internationally, and as the tenth president, I’m lucky to make this connection once again thanks to his work. Further, our own Hendersonville resident and Kanugan The Reverend Canon John Peterson, former Secretary General to the Anglican Communion, introduced me to the good work of this group and opened many doors for me at the meeting in London. For their leadership and expansive vision for Kanuga, I give thanks.
The time in London was filled with meetings. Many discussed matters I knew, but others opened my eyes to the work we enable by supporting the Anglican Communion through one-third of our chapel offerings. I heard moving reports of how our funding enables eye clinics to transport and treat patients throughout the world, many in Africa. I was especially moved to hear of work in Palestine where aid from government has been cut, resulting in grave human suffering in hospitals traditionally founded by Anglicans across the globe. In particular, I was moved to hear how the church is providing funding for oncology patients; chemotherapy virtually ended for children and adults suffering from cancer as politics has brought decades of international support to an end.
I was also captivated by deeper understanding of the challenges facing the Communion as a whole. It is clear that we have entered a new phase that threatens the Communion across the globe. Archbishops and bishops who come from economically disadvantaged areas have become dependent upon aid from various groups throughout the world. Some of them have been threatened that aid will be cut entirely if they participate in Lambeth 2020, the gathering of all bishops of the communion every eight to ten years.
In most cases, this aid funds hospitals, clinics, and schools. It provides clean, running water. As we send one-third of our annual chapel offering to the Anglican Communion, Kanuga is doing its part not only to help fund these initiatives across the globe but to provide support for bishops from developing countries to attend Lambeth without peril for mission; attendance is essential to foster relationships of mutual discernment and understanding. I was thanked more than once for this support and now personally see how imperative our participation is for the future of the church. We hope to do more. We were invited to bring groups from Kanuga worldwide to expand our reach. Just imagine Mountain Trail Outdoor School faculty and Kanugans traveling across the globe to plan, build, and train others to provide potable water to villages in Africa and build Christian friendship. It is possible! It is our mission.
I was also moved to hear from so many of their connection to Kanuga. Bishops and priests from Canada, England, Africa, and Asia all knew us and expressed their desire to return. While there is no promise, the Archbishop of Canterbury himself expressed his desire to come to Kanuga and discussions will ensue to make that possible in the next several years.
Evensong in the Chapel of Lambeth Palace
One highlight of the trip was Evensong in the Chapel of Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Evensong, presided over by Archbishop Justin Welby, was held in the place Thomas Cranmer is said to have written the first draft of the Book of Common Prayer in the 16th century. To be surrounded by voices from around the Communion in that special place, the literal birthplace of Anglicanism, was a delight to me filled with the mystery of what binds us together in Christ. Our voices, despite any theological differences, united in prayer. I must say: it reminded me of Kanuga at its best!
Another highlight was to join in this evensong with members of the Community of St. Anselm. Youth from the world apply to be in residence for a year, joining in study, activism, and mission on the streets of London. I was privileged to discuss their course of study as well as, what a similar community might look like at Kanuga studying sustainability and creation care.
The evensong was followed by a beautiful dinner in Skinner’s Hall, a dining facility in existence since the 1300s. The Archbishop gave moving remarks about his work of reconciliation with Pope Francis, especially in Sudan. His heartfelt and spiritually uplifting stories captured the work of the Communion palpably for me, making me proud to be a part of our church.
Finding Kanuga Friends in France
I then had the good fortune of traveling to France. In addition to connections for further conference possibilities, I had the pleasure of spending time with Vincent and Anne Brochet. Vincent worked at Kanuga on summer staff for two years in the early 2000s. He and his wife are now corporate attorneys in France. Just this past summer, they attended Summer Guest Period Seven with their three lovely children. Kanuga was so important to Vincent that he wanted to share it with his whole family this past year. They had such an amazing time, their children are begging to return, and if all goes well, will attend camp in 2021. Their daughter, in the fourth grade, simply said: “I love Kanuga. I can’t wait to return.” Wow!
Vincent and Anne hosted me in their home, having a traditional weekend lunch of several hours in length! To say that I felt the radical hospitality of Kanuga while abroad is an understatement as we talked of the special place Kanuga holds in each of our hearts. I was overwhelmed with their kindness and the grace of their home. I wish I could describe the beauty of the meal, but hope that the pictures of our dessert (pictured above: 3rd photo from left) will express the amazing table we shared. It felt like holy communion in its own way, an intimate and soul expanding sharing in the Body of Christ.
As I return to Thanksgiving Guest Period and prepare for Advent, I am overwhelmed in gratitude for all that Kanuga is. We all know it is a holy land in the mountains of Western North Carolina, a place that opens our hearts and souls to God and creation shared in simplicity. For that, I am truly thankful. But I am also proud to know that Kanuga is so much more.
We are part of a world-wide family of Anglicans trying to bring goodness to a world that is still yearning for peace, health, and the fulfillment of God’s creation. I am deeply grateful to belong to this family and know you are too. May we not squander our inheritance but enable it to prosper for the next generations lucky enough to call Kanuga home — whether from Florida, New York, the Carolinas, England, France, or through our good work in a village clinic in Africa.
Support this work with me. The world indeed has never needed us more.