21 July 2007

Blue Sky Day in Kent

It was a beautiful blue sky day in Kent today. Lots of sun and 'warm' weather. I say warm, but it was at most 70 degrees -- what passes for warm around here.

Day began at matins in the crypt of the cathedral. Then Bible Study in our assigned small groups. In my group are seminarians, deacons and priests from India, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, New Zealand, Mauritius, Burundi and the US. Our Bible lesson was the Road to Emmaus from Luke. Such a great story to take on here in this place of pilgrimage. And a great story of mission, of journey to consider amongst a group of people who have traveled from so far to be here.

Lunch was followed by some time off. I wandered around the city centre for a bit and then out into Canterbury. Came across another terrific view of the River Stour. The river grass is so beautiful waving at the sun from just below the surface of the water.

Passed the inevitable Thomas Beckett pub. Also visited the site of St. Thomas's martyrdom in the cathedral proper. It was Thomas's martyrdom on this spot on 29 December 1170 that helped make Canterbury a focus of pilgrimage. Chaucer's pilgrims were on a pilgrimage to Canterbury telling stories to pass the time -- and those stories form the corpus of The Canterbury Tales. Picture of the spot will come soon when the cathedral is not quite so crowded as today.

Friday was the final day of the school term and the summer holidays are officially on here in England. The streets were thronged with people, and the line to enter the cathedral wrapped half the way around it at the peak of the afternoon.

Began our group work today, telling 'our stories' in our small groups. I went today and dropped the 'gay bomb,' making my sexual orientation a small part, and not the focus, of my spiritual journey so far. The group got a little quiet, but no one walked out. And I got a few questions later. So, not a bad reaction, I'd say.

This evening was dinner at the Deanery which, as you can imagine, is quite something. Very old and filled with a portrait of every dean since the Reformation. And, as you can see, a lovely garden. Lots of good conversations and we got to meet most of the cathedral chapter, including the three lay members.

Good food and and amazing setting...

The day ended quietly as the sun sank in the west (very late at night) and as happens in northern latitudes, the gloaming slowly, slowly darkened to nighttime. It is literally awesome to be here. The cathedral looms over me everywhere I turn, and is so strong and so old and so, so beautiful. There's lots of interpersonal work and learning to come. But the visual beauty of the place is what is most present to me now.

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