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My whirlwind travel schedule of late has not given me much time to pause and reflect, but as Headmaster Thomas Fickley drove us back from our Asheville trip, I found myself thinking about what a busy, joyful, and productive week we had. In the past five days, we visited three family farms, three camps dedicated to boys’ formation, one boys’ boarding school, two churches, and one Christian media organization’s headquarters. We spoke with a number of interested families, four prospective students, and clergy from five churches. We presented at one church on Sunday morning, where I also preached two sermons and celebrated Holy Communion. We stayed the whole time with our gracious host, a retired schoolteacher who worked at boys’ camps for over two decades, both as a counselor and administrator, and who currently manages his family’s farm properties. Thomas played a good bit of banjo with several host families, who opened their homes and made space at their tables for us. We hiked Rattlesnake Mountain and took long strolls around Black Mountain and up to Montreat while planning upcoming events and projects for the school’s development.

A butcher told us about building a butcher’s shop from the ground up, along with some of the intricacies of slaughtering and butchering large mammals. Thomas showed me how to bore-cut with a chainsaw. (Normally folks try to hit a target tree with an arrow, but I was thrilled to smash a target arrow with my tree!) Our new nurse-arborist-farmer-builder-sawyer friend taught us more about the “mountain hustle.” One of our prospective students gave Thomas a clawhammer banjo lesson (Thomas plays Scruggs style). 

In general, we made promising connections for future fundraising, collaboration, faculty, and students. Although Thomas and I have the full-time job of launching St. Dunstan’s, building a school is the work of a community. We are traveling specifically to promote and explain the APA Lenten Appeal, but, more broadly, we are growing and deepening the community of supporters necessary to launch and sustain this project. It is hard work, and it is joyful work.

Join us!