I just got home from the ADF Clergy Retreat in Cleveland around an hour ago. Since I’m still feeling mildly discombobulated from the travel and the rest of the weekend, rather than trying to put any kind of coherent narrative together, I’ll just throw things out at random and you can share in my mild discombobulation!
* Traveling by Greyhound was far more pleasant than I’d anticipated. Granted, part of that was my being on buses empty enough that I didn’t have to sit right next to anyone for four of the five legs, the one leg where I did have to share felt far more cramped. Still, between reading and sleeping, the hours passed by fairly quickly. The only down side of the trip there was walking into the Cleveland bus station just in time to watch the last out of the Tigers losing. >8(
* Michael and Jenni got to the Cleveland bus station about ten minutes after I arrived, they’d gotten such a late start from Columbus that they didn’t even bother trying to stop by Tredara before picking me up. The car ride was spent mostly discussing Study Program stuff.
* We got to Tredara around 10:30, marking: the first time that I ever met Jessie (the benefactor who provided me with the bus tickets), Carrion, and Raven; the second time I ever met Kirk; and the first time I’d seen everyone other than Michael and Jenni since 2002.
* After some discussion on the role of clergy in ADF, I handed Michael my university transcript, the final requirement standing between me and First Circle Priest status! Now I have a mere three years to finish the Second Circle work. Given the word counts on some of those courses, I should probably start sometime around now.
* I spent both nights in the camper that A.J. and Steph use at Brushwood every summer. I couldn’t have chosen a better welcome mat that the skull and crossbones with “get your booty in here” underneath! Since my assigned trailermates were apparently wussies who were afraid of a little cold (well cancelled by the propane heating) and slept in the house on the floor instead, I had the camper to myself.
* Sleeping until my usual 9 AM wake-up time, I nearly missed breakfast (Ian’s dulcet tones saying “Henderson get your ass in here or no breakfast” certainly helped), but I did manage to eat the leftovers while we discussed religious orders within ADF, and plans for the initiation rite that night. While discussing what to have the many folks not directly involved with the initiation do during that time, I noted that I hadn’t done the Clergy Attunement yet, so that settled that, we were going to do a trance journey.
* Afternoon discussions were on sabbaticals and more discussion on the role of clergy within ADF, with many tangents. (And me crying when I checked the score of the Wolverines/Spartans game on my laptop.)
* Late afternoon saw us going out to the “back forty” of the property, where we travelled past the large meadow where Stone Creed does its rites to the smaller nemeton behind it, and the hidden and even smaller circle in the woods behind *that*, and we cleaned both of those and gathered firewood in preparation for the evening’s work.
* Dinner was takeaway from the local Chinese place. No, really, it was. I had chicken chop suey, not my favoritest but I was trying to keep my spending down.
* And then the ritual! I wore my autumn robes, but with trousers, and regular shoes instead of sandals. The cold or the wet I could have handled without them, but the combination was a bit much even for me. Watching Kirk and Michael do all of the ritual roles gave me that same kind of “bilé envy” that Rodney always seems to have when he comes back from a festival. As good as SLG’s rituals are (IMHO), seeing everything done by people who are really experienced and talented turns the metaphorical ritual intensity knob up to eleven. I know that this isn’t something we can work easily into our High Day rites (see the writeup on our 2008 fall ritual for our not-dreadful-but-not-amazing attempt at doing so), but I do want to see if we can get a bit more explicitly ritual work into our An Bruane sessions for the coming year. Or maybe just a workshop or two on improving our personal abilities at ritual performance, if we can get anyone to attend.
* As much as I love my gods, I don’t think I’d ever carry stinky salmon around with me as an offering for them, even if they asked. Kirk is a very devoted Priest indeed.
* I won’t comment on the specific initiatory work that took place, partly because it’s secret, and much more partly because I wasn’t there and I know next to nothing about what they did! >8) The rest of us stayed at the “small” nemeton where Sue led us in our trance journey. Since this was my first time doing our specialized clergy trance work, everyone insisted that I sit right next to the fire so I could get the strongest effect, which was very nice except for the portions where I felt like my trousers were about to catch fire. After the journey, we shared various chants until the Archdruids and new Initiates returned. (If I’d remembered enough of the lyrics to any of them, I’d have done some of my Odyssey/Yellow Submarine songs per Jenni’s request. Damn me not being able to remember my own lyrics! I’m old!)
* After closing up, we went back to the house and socialized for a while before bed, where I logged on to find that the Twins were now tied with the Tigers for that last playoff spot. From now on, I don’t go to any Clergy Retreat when any of my teams are playing big games.
* I set the alarm for Sunday morning just in case I slept late, no more missed breakfast for me! Sunday morning work was light, including final discussion of the role of clergy in ADF, and getting Kirk and Michael to take the oaths that we’d forgotten to make them take the night before. That done, Michael, Jenni and I headed out early to make sure that I got to the bus station in time.
* And other than taking a few hours longer because of an extra transfer, the bus trip home was uneventful.
And now, all I have to do is catch up on e-mail and everything else I haven’t done around the house for three days.
My thanks to Ian and Sue for hosting us, to Michael and Jenni for going out of their way to get me from and to the bus station, to Jessie for getting me the bus tickets in the first place, to Michael again for getting me the Coke from the store so I didn’t go into withdrawal, to A.J. and Steph for providing the camper, and to all the Clergy Council members who were there, I miss you all already!
Next week, a report on our Manannan Shrine visit, and hopefully our Web site will be up and running on our new server.
Rev. (for three more years at least!) Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF