Walking around the Labryinth at at St Oswalds two days ago was a moving, cleansing experience. There was a series of 12 stations with symbolic objects, such as candles and nails which required prayerful handling on different themes such as repentance and forgiveness. Still time to go, its open between 11am and 2pm today.
Reflective and worshipful symbolism reminded me of one of our retired Vicars at Communion a few Sundays ago. As I watched he engaged in a series of genuflections and bows before approaching the altar. It was obvious from his quiet humility, reverence and atitudes that these were not mere ritual. They were an expression of worship, awe and reverence in the presence of our Living God.
Such matters remind me of my youth, when I lived near the Christian Community of Little Gidding in Cambridgeshire. Made world famous by the poetry of TS Eliot, Little Gidding was set up by one Nicholas Ferrar in the time of Charles 1st and included a mixed bag of married and single residents. Nicholas mixed Catholic symbolism with a simple Protestant Altar and organised regular services at a small chapel through the day. A friend of mine at the time was a resident of the community (which had been restarted) and I spent several nights there.
If ever there was a spirit of place Litle Gidding has it in spades. There is an overwhelming feeling of peace. Meals were simple, milk and butter from their cow, cottage cheese, seasonal vegetables, home made bread. Prayers were said regularly and there were services throughout the day. If memory serves, morning noon and night. Sadly the community folded a few years ago.
Now to the strangest thing. I awoke two days ago and the first word in my head was 'Compline' . I have no idea why. I have heard it before but had to look it up and found it was part of Canonical Hours, the evening worship and prayers. Part of the service is the statement of Simeon (Nunc Dimmitus) in Luke 2 who when presented with the infant Jesus said:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
Is this a promise to us. Am I becoming an Anglican amongst Anglicans ?....... Watch this Space.