Praising in Papyrus

Uganda has a great deal to offer the world and my wish is that the world would listen to the Ugandan melodies.
Melodies of culture, courtesy,medicine, courage.Generosity, patience (but not fast enough) hope,love and faith. And the  rarer irritants that go deep deep deep, metamorphose to training tools and transform.

The  church of England offers training for lay ministry and time for reflection outside the usual.Uganda is a few thousand miles outside the usual but I owe huge thanks to my mentors of vision whose gaze reaches beyond a diocese in order to help the diocese. A reader in the church doesn’t just read and the Christian gospel is not geographically bound.

The church I am attached to knows how to praise, it knows how to suffer and it knows how to fight with the  gentleness of Christ. It is hard to know each tiny drop that makes the flood, but each plays it’s part. It is humbling and empowering

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to visit the papyrus reed churches,the church meeting under a tree and the new churches starting.

And the opportunity is great to meet and talk with all the variety of humankind that is offered. From being given the pulpit on International Women’s Day, to the counselling of children,from the pulpit on Ugandan TV to helping the sick children and their parents privilege is too small a word.

So sharing belief is a great unifier of values and desires, direction and understanding. Ugandan fellow followers of Christ teaching me and shining as bright stars with his love in this world.

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Rest and Reflection

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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 

Sawley Abbey in all weather

12827_4458757710264_289847268_nThis was a day of thank you ! Thank you to everyone who has ever planted bulbs at the roadside. Daffodils , crocuses .. you lift the mood punching above your size .Thank you !
Fog greeted the day and with the intention of getting above it I made for the top of the Moor. The route to Sawley abbey ,now in Lancashire ,but historically Yorkshire proved difficult to link into my tour timetable . I decided to visit on a day trip of training . Its quite a climb up to Cowper’s Cross and I don’t mind admitting to pushing ,but clinging fog still held the high moor in lock down . It’s a great place to think of the valleys below ,Airedale and Wharfedale and pray blessing .The cross a form to cling onto in the fog of life .
Knowing I needed to cross the Pennine watershed, I was expecting plenty of ups and downs . It was a strange sensation then to have fog so thick that it was difficult to work out if the road was going up or down and to cycle through snow drifts higher than me on both sides of the road . So it was with an added sense of relief that the sun was shining at Sawley and the huge stones radiated a pale heat from the strengthening spring sun . Sawley a small abbey but a place of rest , faith and learning for over 400 years sitting juxtaposed Pendle Hill. A beautiful quiet place in the Ribble Valley . A place of spiritual history . Not much remains of this great place founded in 1147 . Born of an obedient zeal to take the gospel from Citaeux in France into all the world , the legacy of Christians is immense . The beheading of the Abbott four hundred years later was greeted with outrage locally and a faction of the pilgrimage of Grace attempted to protest at Sawley .Just sixty or so years later the hold that witchcraft had in the area became well known . The famous trial of ten people ,some confessed witches resulted in hangings for murder through witchcraft in Lancaster and York .
So what of the interest today . It seemed that some of my fellow guests at the ‘Spread Eagle’ were oblivious to the history across the road and ‘had not noticed the Abbey’ The Pendle witches are more celebrated in memory . I write this a day after ‘ We fight not against flesh and blood .. But against the powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil … ‘ was read by Amanda Thatcher for all who cared to listen and understand . Sawley Abbey serene and ruined still remains as a counter to the history of Pendle’s fame .Even if Sawley Abbey’s people have been silenced the stones cry out to invite consideration of the faith of the first monks . The forty mile return gave great head space to consider the lilies of the field and be thankful . There was still snow to walk through and hail to fall but the tour of the Abbeys of Yorkshire has begun and you can read more about it here
https://www.justgiving.com/Fiona-Schneider3/

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