Sunday, June 6, 2010

Praise the Lord!

This morning we heard a rousing homily from a brother from Belfast on the need to praise God. It certainly captured my mood. There is much to be thankful for: a terrific week of meetings here at Hilfield Friary in Dorset, England, not forgetting beautiful weather (always remarkable here in England). The people, the setting, the sense of new things happening has inspired me.

The week began with a pilgrimage from the local nearby parish in Cerne Abbas to the friary. It is a yearly event, and very neighborly. About 40 people walked through the stunning countryside. Great fun, and a chance to show off their dogs,
the event is truly a pilgrimage, a visit to a holy place. The walk is punctuated with scripture reflections, and upon reaching the friary, a huge "cream tea" is set out, a collaborative effort between the parish and friary community featuring cakes and sandwiches. The event culminates in a lovely Evensong.

The theme of pilgrimage continued into the meetings during the week. The brothers had an historic meeting here, in which they decided to have an annual all brothers' Chapter. There was a strong sense that it was time for such a development in the province, and the brothers are eager to see this happen. As one brother pointed out, the community has traveled a long way, andenjoyed the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There is a high level of enthusiasm for sharing the responsibilities in the province. I was deeply moved by the seeming transformation among the group as they met in small groups and then came back to the plenary sessions eager to move forward. I was braced for cynicism, but there was none of it. The facilitator listened particularly well, and skillfully named the deepest longings of the group and framed the discussion. A very heartening process.

But it hasn't been only about the meetings. The community at Hilfield has also continued to develop and proceed on it's pilgrimage together. Both friars and other people have been living together at the friary, and it is great to see the things that were talked about before actually happening! The sheep are lambing, chickens are laying, the garden is growing. Patches of lawn are given over to wildflowers, encourage different insects. It really is about a conversion, learning to see and value things differently. I love neatly tended lawns but they are not always the most helpful to the ecosystem.

The Community of St. Francis, our First Order Sisters, are moving out of Compton Drville, their huge old manor house in Somerset. They are moving to much smaller premises. During a break in our Joint Chapter we moved some furniture out. The tone deaf piano enjoyed a last hurrah curbside.