The Well And The Wwoofers

The Well is an example of how a declining religious community may morph into something vibrant. The brothers of the Anglican Society of the Sacred Mission (SSM)were aging but owned attractive land. This was situated in the idyllic village of Willen, which has a lake, an ancient church and modern peace pagoda, yet lies within the boundaries of Milton Keynes, one of Britain's largest New Towns. So the brothers withdrew to one section of their land (Willen Priory) and welcomed a young, inter-faith group of families and singles to make the rest of the land their base (The Well). This community commits to values such as service, transparency and wholeness, and starts the day with communal prayer. It provides a library, retreats, guest accommodation - and organic gardens.

The Wwoofers are members of the world-wide network of Willing Workers On Organic Farms. Any one who wants free board and lodging in return for volunteer work can apply to one of the many hosts who are listed on the web site The Well is a host. The Wwoofeers I met were young, big and male - and they sometimes conversed in German.

The Well also hosts Book Events. Which is why I was there. Its director, Liz Baker, interviewed me about my book 'Waymarks for the Journey': I had to tell the story of my call, of The Community of Aidan and Hilda, to explain the ten Waymarks in our Way of Life, to unpack the sentence on the first page that 'a good book is a person's precious life-blood outpoured', and to introduce a spiritual breathing exercise with which each day's entry concludes. The audience was a fascinating, creative and dedicated cross-section of human beings. Up the Well!

Posted at 01:29am on 15th July 2011
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