Newsletter Updates for the Week of February 27, 2017

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Welcome from Haywood Street:

The peas are in the ground! Prayers for this new garden, the food it will provide, and the sense of community it will foster.

All are welcome to participate on Wednesdays from 10:00-12:00.

Find more pictures and stories from our congregation here


> Haywood Street is now seeking Welcoming Companions to help assist visitors to the appropriate parking areas on Wednesdays between 11:30 and 12:30. Please contact Emily Bentley at 828-575-2477 (ext. 106) if you are interested.> You may be aware that the city of Asheville is in the process of updating a Comprehensive Plan to guide long-term development. The plan will cover issues such as homelessness and public transportation, both of great interest to many in the Haywood St. community. The next public meeting will be Thursday, March 9th, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Civic Center. CLICK HERE for more information.

> Orientation for new companions will be Monday, March 6 at 5:00 p.m.

> A reminder that Reverend Combs will be on Sabbatical for the month of March.

>“Identity Theft” – Sermon by Associate Pastor, Mark SIler 3/1/17

A Haywood Reflection from Dave Holland:

60 Hours of Silence

It was not too many weeks ago that I, through a chain of different events, was afforded the opportunity to take a weekend away from Haywood Street and my work here.  When I was approached by our Associate Pastor to accompany him to the Abby of Her Lady Gethsemani near New Haven Kentucky, I said yes, but for a much different reason than I would come to experience on my trip.

Rev. Mark Siler had just been appointed as our Associate Pastor and although I had known him for several months, I wanted to use this opportunity to really get to know him and his understanding of why he thinks the work here at Haywood Street is important, and more importantly, why he believes as I do that Jesus of Nazareth is our Sovereign Lord.

There are only a handful of moments in one’s life that truly stand out; that push all emotions aside and brand an indelible mark on one’s soul.  I’ve had a few of those moments in my life and I try to embrace them each day, good or bad.  This trip however, would lead me to a much greater understanding of the Kingdom which I serve and it’s King Jesus of Nazareth.

As we traveled north and shared each other’s stories of trials and triumphs, the mood began to change. The word trip was replaced by the word pilgrimage and light began to fill the dark places in my soul creating a sober mood of focus and understanding.  The Holy Spirit began to move through me and prepare me for the adventure to come; a peaceful feeling came over me, which I at this hour struggle to explain.  I somehow knew that I was going to a different place, and that the next few days were going to be a quiet conversation, not about me or Rev. Siler, but between my soul and the person that guides it. It was time, as they say around Haywood Street, for a “catch-up,” but this time it would be with the one some call The Lion of the Tribe of Juda (most time I just call him cuz!) Make no mistake though; he had summoned me to the conference table for a little chat!

I knew very little about the place we arrived at early on Friday evening. Of course I’d done a little research, watched a few Youtube videos boot-legged from this Holy Place, but I was not Catholic and my understanding of Catholicism was meek to put it mildly–as I had centered most of my studies of scripture and the Holy Canon around John Calvin, and now John Wesley.  I was familiar, however, with some of the players of course, like Peter, Mary, Polycarp, and even Merton, a famous writer of books who had been a Monk at Gethsemani for most of his life, though I did not read much of his work because it all seemed to be more Buddhist than Christian.  So as we entered the building to begin our “retreat,” I felt a little out of place, but confident that I could go 60 hours without uttering a single sound.  What I would encounter on the other side of the reception area was nothing short of a miracle.

Latin words were hurled about me like I should understand their meaning. Words like, Vigils, Lauds, Mass, Terce, Sext, Vespers and Compline. Wait a minute, what, oh, I forgot, no talking, I found it very hard to ask questions without doing that.  It was Breakfast, Dinner and Supper, as I was raised to believe not Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner as I had come to believe. The food was meager, as the word meditation seemed to be prevalent. I made up my mind to attend every service and there were 7 of them, which by the way, started at 3:15 a.m. and ended at 8:00 p.m. with meals and classes in between. Wait, when do we sleep? Oh, and then at 8:00 p.m. began the “Great Monastic Silence,” where you returned to your room, turned out the light and since there was no one to talk to you, quickly fell asleep because you were up again at 2:45 a.m. to attend a 3:15 Vigil–some in total darkness.

Things were shifted a little on Saturday and Sunday. When I say shifted, I mean they add more prayer and service to each day, just because. Not to mention the Monks find time to make Fudge, Bread and other items to support the Monastery. Wait a minute, what about sleep?  Though I never completely found a rhythm to all of this, I was in awe!

Although I did take many walks through the beautiful garden in front of the retreat quarters, I spent most of my time in the library on the first floor. It was full of books and letters and journals where names like King, Gandhi, Teresa, Merton, Francis, and some cat named Tich Nhat Hanh, rang loud in many volumes.  I read fast and did what I could to absorb all the knowledge I could, as I read and reflected on things that were and things that are yet to come.  I as reflected in silence and pondered my life and how I was even allowed in such a place as this, guess who showed up and sat in the chair across from me in a dimly lit corner? That’s right, our Rabbi.  As I was filed with the Holy Spirit, Christ began to unveil his plan for me, at least for the next stage of my Monastic Life at Haywood Street.  As the tears came, I felt very special and unworthy at the same time.  I had struggled to find my way forward the last few months, but I was discovering, once again, it was not about me but the redefinition of a Kingdom that the world is tired of, and my very distinct part in all of it.  Christ would give me the plans to reintroduce myself in a different way to my work at Haywood Street, a plan which included more meditation and more pastoral response, better ways to support my brothers and sisters who are called with me to this work. It would plunge me deeper even deeper to a separated life from the common world and more focused on my soul and its connection with the Kingdom. I would leave with the plan etched in my head as if it was carved on a stone tablet, a plan that would move me to a very different level of discipleship, one that before I arrived I could not have even imagined, or thought was even possible.

Rev. Siler and I both made it 60 hours without a single word, and it did not even seem painful all.  I have to say though, the pay-off was life changing.  I recommend that everyone do this at least once in their life time.  It was time to leave before we knew it, and though home and Haywood Street beckoned, it left a little blank spot in my soul.

As our beautiful sun rose to hit the hood of our car upon our departure, I could only sum up this trip with words from our Good Doctor Luke that I learned as a kid, as they could never be more true than they were at that moment at that magical place, nestled in the hills of Old Kentucky–Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards Man.

Peace of Christ,

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