Eremos is 15 years old! We are fifteen years in the emerging of a contemplative space within Austin.
Some of you here were part of Eremos before there was an Eremos. I was aware that there were so many gifts and talents within others, I knew that if we joined together so much more could happen than if I remained alone.
15 years ago Eremos was born out of a community of men and women coming together to hold and share a vision. Our stated goal back then was: “to serve the community by moving ‘Dwelling Place’ beyond Jean into a community entity.” I remember vividly sitting around the table at Berkley Avenue. Phyllis Dunham, Our Organizational development facilitator, took all the work that had been done to form a charitable non profit organization and she asked: Will you serve as a Board member for three years? Silence. Will you serve two years? Silence One year? Again, silence. Finally she asked the question: Will you serve 6 months? With great enthusiasm came a ‘yes, I can serve for 6 months’. That first group served Eremos for over three years!
Seven years ago another Board asked questions of where are we as an organization. Again, we worked with Eleanor Jordan an Organizational Business person to help clarify how we saw ourselves as an organization. For two years, the refrain ‘Ground and Grow’ became almost a mantra. Grounded in the heart of God, in the lives of people, and in Texas we questioned what growth would mean for the next phase of our evolution.
And as many of you know, last year we began working with another Organizational Development team Stacy Erlich and Seeds for Change to help us plan strategically for the next 15 years.
“Come away – be nurtured.” This invitation has been our passionate desire over these fifteen years. Modern research has discovered that Americans have much less reflection time than almost any other culture in the modern world. Our invitation has been to simply to step back from the busyness of life to behold the Mystery of life so that we can experience contemplative rest.
Over these years we have provided people both invitations and opportunities.
Our attentiveness to each individual’s spiritual direction has made our focus deeply personal.
Our spiritual support groups have created opportunities for community and connection with kindred spirits.
We have provided retreats, workshops and studies to offer time and space for reflecting on our relationship with God, our lives and the different questions that arise through living. In a world which seems to be moving faster than fifteen years ago. In the lives of people who are impacted more and more by illness, war, politics, religious rights and lefts, injustice and complexity, the invitation of Jesus echoes even more urgently:
Come away to a silent, solitary desert place and rest awhile and be nurtured.
Today’s celebration is an honoring of all who have ebbed and flowed through Eremos over the past fifteen years—all the men and women who have supported us financially, emotionally, practically and spiritually. We have truly become a Center of Contemplative Life and a charitable non profit organization serving the community beyond Jean as a community.
Today’s celebration also points toward the future and what we can become. As witnesses in our world today we live Eremos. that silent, solitary space of intimacy with the One whom we call God. And from within the intimacy of communion, live and love others. Thank you!
And ‘happy birthday to you!”