monhegan island

We are on the small island of Monhegan, twelve miles off the coast of Maine. Monica and I are savoring our last few moments away from reality.

For three days we have climbed over the cliffs and hiked through the wooded trails. We have strolled through the small village and followed the path up to the lighthouse.

monhegan island

We have sat for hours on the rocks and cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

We have shared the peace of the Island - its year-round inhabitants, its visitors, its sanctuary from the busyness of everyday life.

monhegan island

The 21st century (ok, in many ways, the 20th century!) seems to have forgotten this community. This is by choice.

There are no cars on the dirt roads, only a scattering of small old trucks used to haul the day's catch of fish and lobster. Newspapers (and visitors) are brought over on the ferries - if the weather permits. There are no outside locks on the door to our room, no police presence needed in this community. There is no TV or Internet or even electricity in our room. My cell phone is off. I'm not sure it even works out here.

Life on Monhegan can only be described as isolated - by contented choice.

monhegan island

I have found that time itself - time as we measure it - truly has no meaning this weekend. My faith, my thoughts, my actions, my spirit, my soul all mingle with other artists and visitors and the special people who live in Monhegan year-round. We set our routines of eating and sleeping and living and thinking by the routine of nature - which is, of course, God's rhythm.

monhegan island

I can't find the appropriate words to describe my emotions. Although I was eager for this planned trip, for many reasons I came to this place a bit reluctantly. I felt apprehensive about exposing my soul - to my friend, to strangers, and especially to myself. And I was not sure what to expect when told our accommodations were in an old Maine home-turned-bed-and-breakfast ... without electricity!

But I found a place of deep spirituality and healing and acceptance of whoever you are, in whatever emotional stage of life you are in.

Yesterday Monica and I hiked to the top of Whitehead - the highest cliff - and I stood with my arms stretched out (similar to the infamous "Titanic" movie pose) and leaned into the strong winds.

monhegan island

Standing there 175 feet above the Atlantic Ocean I could feel God's presence, especially in the power of those winds - what else could explain the strength and power and, yes, security I felt in being physically held up?

And then in exploring there a bit we found a small spot that we realized was a memorial to someone loved and lost. Small treasures represented a life here on earth, and an urn with the top off and the ashes long gone were evidence of that physical life released.

We knew we were on holy ground.

monhegan island

Last night I participated in the last village Hymn Sing of the season. Ten or fifteen of us gathered in the simple church. I shared my faith through my flute for a small part of the service, and knew it wasn't me but God speaking through the silver tube that has been an intimate part of my life for thirty-four years. The doors to the church were opened to the unseasonably mild air outside. I could see shapes of people out in the darkness, listening and worshiping God in their own way.

monhegan island

So now it is Sunday morning, and another part of the Island has been calling me. I know that sounds corny, but how else to explain it? Before heading up to the cliff yesterday, Monica and I had hiked to Lobster Cove. This part of the Island is closer to the ocean and the trail goes over the slippery coastal boulders and rocks; the seas were rough, and the energy I felt standing so close to them was overwhelming. We had spent some time there but on this, our last morning on Monhegan, I felt that I needed to return.

monhegan island

The waters were calmer, the winds more gentle, and I climbed those New England coast rocks - carefully! - with my flute in hand. During the two months of anticipation for this journey I spoke to my students and my friends of my intention to let my music and my soul mingle with the sounds of the ocean. I found the actuality almost overwhelming. I "noodled" around, trying not to think or play with a purpose but just let my faith and my music flow. And after a bit I realized that I was praying Amazing Grace through improvisation on my flute.

Surrounded by the rawness of the boulders and rocks and waves and the exposed souls of the other people sharing the rocky coast with us, I realized that at that moment my church family was worshiping back home in Maryland. I felt that, in a way, I was worshiping with them.

monhegan island

I felt a deep peace.

God's peace.