What a great way to start the New Year – down at Koroit in western Victoria as harp tutor for the Lake School of Celtic Music. This is an amazing week. People arrive from all over Australia to immerse ourselves in all things Celtic. The core of the week is about the music - learning instruments, evening sessions, dancing, singing, and sharing the craic.
One thing that really speaks about the week is the depth of community that forms in such a short time. Certainly the common attraction is the Irish culture, but there is more to this community than that. It is about communitas, that primarily unstructured community that exists in liminal time where people, with a common experience, develop a way of being together that enhances relationships. At Lake School, communitas tumbles out as the genuine support given to songwriters who showcase their newly hatched songs. It spills out as young families get together to produce incredible ensemble arrangements on fiddle, whistle, cello and drum, giving us the concert to huge applause. Communitas is in the sharing of tunes, the making of Irish soda bread, the shared picnics, concerts and lessons. It is also in the all-night music of fifty or more musicians playing ferociously at Mickey Burke’s pub and the communal music of the evenings at the House Party at the Commercial Hotel.
A friend of mine, on visiting the caravan park during lunchtime and seeing clusters of people sitting around practicing their musical homework, said that it was ‘just like a one-week musical commune.’ It is this and more. It is the lived experience of the potential for a society that genuinely cares for all with whom we are in relationship with. Hey, isn’t that everything?
I’m wondering how to being these liminal experiences back to the rest of my life. This is something I grapple with a lot as people return from retreats and pilgrimages. We can get so caught up on the preparation to attend, and the unfolding of the experience, but what about the coming home? Walking the Camino over the last two years has opened me to many thoughts on how to return. I’m going to write a lot more about this in the next blog. Particularly going to write about Omega – Alpha and the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostella.
A big year ahead… concerts, retreats, pilgrimages.