Coming off a week of travel around Europe, Chateau Duffy was a fantastic way to end my trip. I met up with Shannon, Rachel, and Gwen in Paris a few days beforehand, and we drove down to Limoges that Friday. The French countryside was absolutely beautiful, and I was strongly reminded of the Ohio valley where I grew up in the States.
That weekend was particularly meaningful, not only because it was the start of the Chateau Duffy trip, but because it was Easter. I was especially struck with a sense of dualism between my time in the States and my time in Europe, in how much God has blessed me over the years, whether I’m in the Ohio countryside, or French countryside – which are both amazing. Easter also felt very different, in the sense that it’s not an extravagant holiday like it would be at a Texas mega-church. It really was a day of remembrance and thankfulness, rather than another holiday you take for granted just because it happens.
Taking a Sabbath right before starting the week also really helped us all take a breath from our rhythm of travel the day before. Shannon introduced a sort of “communion” at our evening meal with bread and wine, the way it would have been done at The Last Supper. This verse stood out to me, as a sort of parallel to how Matryoshka Haus does community,
“The Son of Man came, eating freely and drinking wine” – Matthew 11:19
Bits of scripture really helped set a more complex spiritual dynamic for the week, encouraging us to take time out for reflection and be responsive to God. However, I especially appreciated that this wasn’t at the forefront of our trip; no morning prayer, no afternoon Bible readings, no evening worship, etc. Everything flowed out of individual conversations taking place throughout the week, allowing different people to open up and share their experiences. Thus, I could really see how different people in the community organically meshed together, regardless of faith or background. Overall, Chateau Duffy was like a little case study in how the Matryoshka Haus community operates relative to its projects. This was particularly significant for me since the only active London MH project is the Transformational Index, which is more exclusive than past ones.
On one hand, “Chateau Duffy” as a project really encapsulates the spirit of Matryoshka Haus; that is, to bring hope, justice, and restoration where there is none. Before I arrived at Chateau Duffy, I was expecting… well, a chateau. But as you can see, Chateau Duffy is really more of an ancient French home and barn, built in the 15th century. When MH first started this project, there didn’t seem to be much hope of justice and restoration, given the state it was in.
In spite of this, “Chateau Duffy” really brings the MH community together in a unique way. For the first time since I arrived in London, our time together wasn’t broken up by the logistics of everyday life in the city. Especially coming off of a week of international travel, the sense of “sharedness” in the experience of Chateau Duffy was very refreshing. At times the worksite seemed almost comical, the way so many different people came together to work on this one construction project, despite the fact that almost none of us knew what we were doing.
The ebb and flow of life during the Chateau Duffy trip also was really reflective of the spirit of Matryoshka Haus. We work hard during the day, bringing our diverse community together to accomplish a common goal for the common good. In the evenings, we have these great hospitable meals and engage in community with others, whether that is within MH, or the other communities we touch with our projects.
I think a defining moment for this Chateau Duffy trip was the last day, when we threw a huge barbecue at Chateau Duffy itself. We finished work early, cleaned up the worksite, cooked a huge meal, and invited the entire surrounding village to come to the party.
As you can see, while it took Cathers us a while to get the barbecue going, we had a great time interacting with the villagers and the food was fantastic 🙂
I think by the end, we all realized that “Chateau Duffy” is actually quite a nice space, and that we’re starting to have an effect on the surrounding community. It doesn’t hurt that we literally double the size of the village when we visit. Overall it’s a great picture of what Matryoshka Haus does best, I think.
Until next time!