This takes us to 1995 and returning home from Northumberland to continue in their search for a house in the Midlands, Kevin and Ellen were met by a very small remnant of the Vine Community and a parish church that had grown suspicious of what they were involved in. This was the start of ten dark years in exile, grief, and hardship. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, what they had learnt over the last ten years was to become a framework of survival.
Firstly, having been central to parish life, they were experiencing what it was like to be distanced to the back of the church. They identified with those who felt like outcasts within churches, which resulted in them setting up a soup kitchen and place of hospitality in their church hall.
Ellen describes the hurt of being rejected by her friends and fellow parishioners as leading her to retreat away and give space to her sorting her anger and hatred of people.
Secondly, they became estranged from the Northumbria Community in order to care for their spiritual directors (founders of the Northumbria Community) who had devastatingly split from the Northumbria Community.
Thirdly, in 2001, a great loss occurred after the death of their 25-year-old daughter-in-law, Clare, who along with their eldest son and two small children had joined them in companionship and communal support whilst in exile from their Community and Parish church.
Prior to 2001, they had started to write down their ‘Way for Living; along with a simple prayer liturgy they used to say both on their own and along with their son and his late wife. The ‘Way’ had become a little boat to shield them in the adversity of life; now, more than ever, they held on with their dear life to Christ through their ‘Way for Living.’
In 2002, a new person had joined their companionship as their son remarried. They now had four grandchildren and what was to become a ‘Ruth character’ as Carey embraced the Little Way of Ss John and Mary within the context of her own hardship of divorce and remarriage. The ‘Way for Living’ now needed to expand its capacity from binding a family as a community of people, to embracing a stepfamily into community and family life.
New possibilities of community and companionship were becoming possible through viewing life from the foot of the cross. Years later, as this short history is written, in 2020, from the house in the Midlands that Kevin and Ellen had given everything up for, only to be given back much more than they hoped for – we now understand, in what has become our Community and organisation called Monos, why God was nurturing our hearts and minds in this way. It was to get us ready for the next chapter of our communal and individual adventure, alone and together.
We hope that this little ‘Way for Living’ that follows may help others who are called to a similar Way, or who find themselves in exile, grief, searching or adversity and prosperity through accountability or commitment.
Finally, this little Way for Living is not meant in any way to be a burden for those that are called and choose to follow it. It does not any way claim or pretend to be complete, but the hope is that it goes some way to help us all experience the freedom of responding to a call from God and to delight in the responsibility that this brings to us as we try to live it in our homes, families, communities, churches, workplaces and society at large.