It’s been over a week since my cycling tour of the Abbeys of Yorkshire came to an end . A beautiful tour , a tour about being and not about achieving . How many miles and how high I climbed in total is not the issue. The space to think, to enjoy ,to find, to pray,to be was the purpose .And that was fulfilled.
Yes, I’d love to be an expert on each Abbey , so feel the highs and the lows of those who lived there. To see the learning ,hospitality ,charity and love of the great monasteries. To hear the tales of failure and fear and isolation as a community diminished. It cannot be , that the Abbeys of Yorkshire , over four hundred years , led a uniform existence of peace and holiness , happiness and contentment. It cannot be, that as Henry VIII saw fit to dismantle monasteries , each monk or nun was in error . Some , maybe , had drifted away from biblical and apostolic truth , but many , may we dare to believe, were believers and followers of truth. So much remains in history and mystery.
I loved the nature , the owl, the deer, the otter and the gulls. the shoreline and the wild moor, the city and the reclaimed coal field. I loved the ruin , held static by English Heritage and the living ex monastery or nunnery in private care as a private dwelling . We salute the private owners with so great a responsibility to protect , nourish , cherish and preserve our history.
And the speed of my cycling brought a peace and thoughtfulness to the journey. A time for reflection and acknowledgement of the greatness of the institution of monasteries and nunneries and a thankfulness that the rhythm and heartbeat of prayer continues to flow out to God and into our world