Retreat Reflections

A few notes:

This Lent I had the blessing of attending an Orthodox Retreat in England. We also had the occasion for the 100 year anniversary celebration of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church approving the adaptation of the English Western rite services to Orthodox use. The liturgy was celebrated in a rural chapel (Fr. Hieromonk Michael of Saint Petroc, Cascades, TAS and Fr. Barry Jeffries of St. Stephen's, Launceston, TAS presiding) - Anglo-Saxon in origin, rebuilt by the Normans, and refurbished by the Victorian English. The Hours were kept at the Granary (a granary converted to lodging). The liturgy and hours were after the English Use chanted in Anglican plainchant with Sarum Psalm Tones. Liturgy was according to the English rite in the Saint Colman Prayer Book, of which I finally got my copy! We practiced silence between sessions, had communal Lenten meals together (many thanks to Mr. John Bruckin and Dr. Gilbert Meal), and sessions on Responding to God's Will - covering everything from our individual response, to that of nations and civilizations. Personally, it provided time to discover what lesson I needed to learn this Lent. Many thanks to Dr. John Ward of Hobart/Launceston, TAS for use of cassock, alb, amice and cincture. My poor Florida garb was a bit light (in weight and color) for the job, and my shoes were not quite up to the job either - but we still managed. I was thrilled to be allowed to participate in the worship as a chorister, and found myself drafted as Crucifer on Sunday as well (the first time as an Orthodox Christian doing so - and I don't remember them being so heavy! The cross was brass with a solid iron shaft - no doubt Victorian!) The retreat was organized by Mr. Eadmund Malcolm Dunstall of the Saint Eanswythe Orthodox Study Society of Folkestone, Kent, UK. (Some of my readers and friends might recognize the name as the founder of Tha Engliscan Gesithas back in 1966 who rightly protested the 900 year anniversary of the Norman invasion of England - I didn't realize who was who until the retreat was over! Forgive me for not knowing how to include Anglo-Saxon letters in this post.) We also made a trip to St. Mary and St. Eanswythe Church in Folkestone to venerate the relics of St. Eanswythe, who founded the first convent ever in England back in the 7th c. We arrived late, so we held our service out in the cold in front of the church - but still, we were there! (Saint Eanswythe, pray for us!)

I also had a recurrence of pneumonia - having had a few bouts in the past. I made the error of not dressing warm enough (again, Florida wardrobe), nor of getting preventive care from my physician. I took a sore throat with me, and the cold air, exertion and rain did me in. I've recovered quite well, and though the illness was a slight irritation, it was not successful in robbing us of profit during the retreat. I also finally got to see London by someone who knows the city - including Westminster Abbey, the Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great, and St. Paul's Cathedral (including the American Memorial Chapel, and the side altar with Hunt's "Light of the World" icon reredos - unfortunately, my medication kept me from realizing until I returned home that I had indeed seen the American Memorial Chapel! We were also given a tour of Charterhouse by one of the Brothers, Mr. Michael Farrar (who has written books on the history of quite a few English churches - some of which I hope to find copies of.) We also were able to visit with another Brother of Charterhouse, the retired Right Reverend Ambrose Weeks of the Church of England.

Pubs visited included The Valiant Sailor in Capel-Le-Ferne, Kent, the Butcher's Hook and Cleaver in London (Ukrainian chef specializing in English pies, of which I had a wonderful mushroom and onion pie with tarragon), Ye Olde Six Bells, Horley, Surrey, and The Albert Tavern in Westminster (I think that was one, I was quite ill at the time and only remember mushroom soup and large etched windows). The great discovery was a nice Kentish ale - Shepherd Neame Kent's Best that reminded me a bit of eating a Red Delicious Apple. It was nice to finally meet several people I've normally only either spoken to on the Internet, or talked with on the phone (including two Shipmates from the Ship of Fools, of which I've lurked quite awhile - and once participated in long ago.) I also saw why Kent is "The Garden of England" - and came within visual distance of France. There were also a few Celtic/Roman sites I saw in Kent that I really wanted to go see - unfortunately, I lacked time or good health for the walks.

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