Saturday, 2 February 2013

To London City from the Silence of the Monastery

To London City from the Silence of the Monastery

Stables converted into a modern monastery 
My time spent at Mucknell monastery was a wonderful blessing. They are an Anglican Benedictine community of both monks and nuns who moved to Mucknell just two years ago. What was a farm house and stables has been converted into a modern and “green” powered monastery. 

It is a community of about 12 members - of which two are in their 30’s!! And while I was in residence, there was a 19 year old in his “gap” year after high school, spending a month at the monastery. There was certainly the presence of youth in the place. 

The place of prayer, Oratory
I appreciated the Benedictine rhythm of each day. The day began at 6am with the office of Readings. Lauds (morning prayer) at 7am. Serve yourself breakfast. Terce (midmorning office) at 8:45. Mass at noon. Silent lunch at 1pm. The office of None at 2pm. Vespers (evening prayer) at 5:30pm. Silent supper at 7pm. Compline (night prayer) at 8pm. Bedtime. Then get up and do it all over again.

The bell tower that called us to prayer and to eat!!

The tower bell would be rung ten minutes before each office and before each meal. The oratory was filled with the fragrance of incense (candlemas or the Presentation of the Lord was celebrated last night and today), and the monks and nuns in choir chanted the psalms and hymns with gentle and beautiful harmony. 

In the Refectory, we ate our meals in silence, looking out to the needs of those around you, while listening to the book that was read during the meals. One of the key characteristics of Benedictine spirituality is the call to “listen.” To listen to the Word of God in the oratory, to listen to what was being read in the refectory, to listen to the needs of the visitor and the person next to you. To be open and aware of God’s Life before you.

A monastery is a great place to retreat to, but the retreat does come to an end and we have to get out and engage with the rest of the world.

The train ride halfway across England!
Seeing the countryside speed by on the 2 1/2 train ride to London, packed full of commuters,  was in sharp contrast to the stillness and silence of the monastery.

I’ll be downtown London tomorrow, gathering with the faithful at Holy Trinity Brompton (the home of the Alpha course), and then taking in some of the sights in the heart of the old city.

Paddington Train Station, London

Monday I'll be in Israel, the Holy Land.

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