I’m in the airport headed back home to Baton Rouge after a deeply satisfying few days at Malone University in Canton, Ohio. Before I go on, it is urgently necessary for me to advise any and all readers headed to Canton that the place to stay is Hambleton House B&B. Kathy, your hostess, loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life — and it involves chocolate chip cookies! I’ve never been made to feel more at home anywhere I’ve stayed in my travels.

I was able to spend a fair amount of time talking to professors about the Benedict Option (of course), life in the academy, Christian life in America, religious liberty, and other things that I think about a lot. We share the same concerns, unsurprisingly, but what I take away from this week is a sense of comfort and even confidence. The teachers I was with have a good community among themselves, and it did me more good than I expected to be welcomed into their circle, if only for a couple of days. I live a fairly isolated life, regrettably, so when I get to spend time face to face with fellow pilgrims, it reminds me that I’m not alone, that we’re all working in the same vineyard.

In fact, I’m reflecting on that this morning, and on my own words delivered to the students last night about the importance of embedding oneself in a community of shared conviction — and I’m realizing that I need to work harder at finding and/or creating that kind of community where I live. As much as I treasure being able to be in touch with friends and colleagues online, there’s no substitute for face-to-face fellowship.

So, thank you, new Malone friends. I had forgotten.