Northumbria Community in France
Northumbria Community in France

L' Abri à Suvigny

Exploring New Monasticism

-- Interior of chapel --

I  

 

Rhythm of the Day

 

08:30     Breakfast

09:30     Morning Office

10:00     Work

13:00     Lunch and

              Midday Office

14:00     Reflection and Prayer

15:00     Work/Recreation

18:00     Evening Office

19:15     Supper

20:00     Recreation/reading

             /chat/games

21:30     Compline

22:30     House quiet

 



Le Rythme du Jour 

 

08:30    Petit Déjeuner

09:30    Offices du Matin

10:00    Travail

13:00    Offices de Midi et                         Déjeuner

14:00    Méditation et prière

15:00    Travail/Loisirs

18:00    Offices du Soir

19:15    Diner

20:00    Jeux/Lecture/loisirs/un

             temps de partage et de

             convivialité

21:30    Compline

22:30    Maison calme

 

 

 

 





 People's comments from 2015

Relaxing and some summer weather to be burned by! 
– Carlos, the pony, was lovely to work with – Sarah

 

Thank you Jane and Andrew for a restful home. I loved being chief berry picker (and eater!), cooking up a storm in the kitchen, joining in the daily routine, walking the countryside and learning about the Celtic saints and the area. I am sure this place will only continue to grow in spirit and life as more and more people enjoy your space - Mishal

 

 

 

Thank you for your hospitality and letting me

stay in your home – I will miss this place – Mateusz

 

 

 

Great sharing, food, weather and

Christian conversation – Greg and Pete

 

 

 

A welcome break and great to see so much progress

since our last visit. A lovely Community day out to

Savigny-le-Vieux – Liz and Paddy

 

 

We were impressed by the atmosphere here in L’abri. The warm welcome, the focus on God and spreading his love….. we would like to meet you again! – Sieds

 

 

Such a wonderful time exploring the celtic Saints and then the ‘tremendum mystericum’ – ultimate mystery.

Jane you are a wonderful host – aware of your guests and their needs.

Utterly enjoyed my time here in a safe space during a

rocky and sad grieving time for me. – Rob

 

 

 

 

Fun, fascinating and very welcome – Amy

 

 

 

So lovely to be back after a while to share Easter

fellowship with you – Marie-Hélène and Dominic

 

 

 

Overjoyed to be sharing the pathway –

thanks for your fellowship – Marc and Debbie

 

 

 

A wonderful week – thank you for your

love and guidance – Emma

 

 

 

 

It was wonderful – again!! – Loes and Klaas

 

 

 

Lovely to be back for a while – next time for longer!

– Paul and Jorien

 

 

Always a pleasure to be here – and had plenty of changes in my mind and soul.

I pray the spirit of Suvigny will follow me back to the busy life in London. – Sarah

 

 

 

Thanks for your great food and interest in us.

– Ewald, Corinne and Anne-Linde

 

 

Thank you for a wonderful time and allowing me to share with your life and daily routines here. Everyone I have met has been very friendly and welcoming. Thanks for the lovely fresh food and your warm hospitality – I will take back many good recipes to try out. - Richard

 

 

I think what I take away, is particularly the value of the monastic rhythm, especially just 'showing up' to listen

and turn to God, day by day, in the offices; and finding 

God's stillness as a gift in the given moment.  - Daniel

 

 

And so, another year ends with our hearts full of thankfulness to God who is so good to us. We pray His Spirit will continue to bless, inspire and guide us and all who He draws to this place for His purposes.

Soli Deo Gloria.

We are Ten - the first decade

We celebrate 10 years of this house of prayer and hospitality .....

Enjoy the pictures of 'Then and Now'

The pond, the house and Carlos the Shetland pony 2014

>

Before After

2016

2016 - has been a year of linkage with people and organisations that may or may not have a part to play in the future of L’Abri, but we give thanks to God for the opportunities to meet new people, sow seeds, receive seeds to sow ourselves, and leave God to do the watering and harvesting in His own good time.

 

 

 

These linkages have varied from Northumbria contacts in the UK – particularly the other houses in Oxfordshire and Hereford, people in Ukraine, where Jane visited in February, the New Frontiers church which has started this year in St Hilaire-du- Harcouët, France Mission representatives at an away day in Portsmouth, people connecting via the website from France, Nigeria and South America, our Dutch friends – old and new, the local people – particularly English speakers. There have been social events and BBQs, as well as formally planned Community Group events and the annual Easter Retreat.

 

A major project – now complete – that Jane has been involved in for some time, was the translation into French of the Daily Offices, Complines, set of meditations for 31 days, and the music melody lines. This work is now published in two booklets, and available from L’Abri à Suvigny and the Mother House.

 

Changing family circumstances have also had an influence on the year and resulted in much travel between France and the UK as well as South Africa! There are more changes afoot next year with our daughter’s impending marriage, and Andrew coming to live permanently – we hope – at L’Abri à Suvigny. Brexit is a major issue which may adversely affect this, but we hope not, and trust God for all our tomorrows, however uncertain they are.

 

 

 

 

2017

Looking back over this year, I wondered what sort of image would encapsulate something of our experiences in 2017. The image of a boat on a restless sea seemed to spring to mind. And then my mind wandered onto the links with the Celtic saints who came back and forth between Gaul (Celtica) and Ireland, Wales and Cornwall (Britannia). They went through seas of change into the unknown, landing where the wind took them, and never quite sure when they would return to the land of their fathers, or if they ever would.

 

We too, have spent a fair bit of time literally on boats this year, and also in a more metaphorical sense, floating on a sea of change. This can be unsettling, and disturbing, fearful and stormy, but it can also be glorious, calm, exciting, and a deep learning experience.

 

So, how did all this change come about for us at L’Abri this year? Well, Andrew handed in his notice working for the URC Eastern Synod, and left the office in mid-March. We immediately took to the seas in an amazing trip from the French Island of Reunion via Mauritius, the Seychelles, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. During this lengthy time at sea, we experienced wonderful international friendship, mostly speaking languages other than English, with a crew and passengers from all parts of the world. We learned from a most informed and sensitive lecturer from Bologne University about the culture, politics, philosphies and religions of all the regions we visited. Together with wonderful scenery (thousands of photographs!), great entertainment, and in depth conversations with our new found friends, we explored whole ways of thinking and believing, and seeing the world through new and widened eyes. Andrew and I also used the time fruitfully to rebond with each other to prepare for our return to France as a couple, after our 5 years alone and together.

 

 

 

 

Coming back to France, we were welcomed by Sarah and her financé, Mateusz, who had been looking after L’Abri in our absence. So we became a team of 4 running the house and grounds, and welcoming visitors. This meant more adaptation and change to the dynamics and organisation of the house of prayer and retreat.

With the wedding of Sarah and Mateusz at the end of July, there was much to prepare for, and arrangements to be made, in the French system, which was unfamiliar to all of us. At last the days leading up to the wedding arrived, and family and friends from all over the world started to gather at L’Abri and nearby Gîtes, and the time was fun, full and festive. The big day arrived, and everyone had a wonderful time, made particularly special by the fact that the blessing service in the church was allowed to be taken by a minister from the church in the UK where Sarah grew up, a Scot who loves all things Celtic. So we were able to design a Celtic flavour ceremony in a part of France where the good Celtic ones of old had also been able to serve in this manner many centuries ago.

Of course, their marriage means a change in family dynamics, and although they are currently still living here with us as part of the team, they will have to spend time in the UK over coming months as Mateusz finishes his degree. Thereafter, they do not know if they will be able to return to France to seek work and live, but this is their desire.

 

Andrew and I continued to travel on ferries back and forth between Normandy and the Isle of Wight because of our property there, which we were finding it difficult to sell. The political and financial uncertainties in the current climate between the UK and Continental Europe deeply affect us all, and none of us knows what lies ahead.

 

So, in all this change and uncertainty, where do we find our hope?

My mind goes back to the boats……… in a vessel on a rough sea, the most stable point is the centre, the pivot around which all other motion functions. This is the place to go to, to avoid the unpleasantness of ‘mal de mer’. So too, in our spiritual journeying, the centre is the place to go to, frequently and regularly, tapping into the art of meditation and contemplative prayer, in order to allow God to seep into the rest of our turbulence, and make it calm. To let Christ give us the ‘peace which passes all understanding’, when all around is in turmoil, changing and challenging, and unknown.

 

‘Lord, I (we) will trust You, help me (us) to journey beyond the familiar, and into the unknown. Give me (us) the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You. Christ of the mysteries, can I (we) trust You to be stronger than each storm in me (us)? I (we) will trust in the darkness and know that my (our) times are still in Your hand.’

Developments in 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year has seen various developments at L’Abri à Suvigny – both physical and in terms of its mission and purpose.

On the physical side, we have invested in solar panels to become more self-sufficient and eco-friendly in our use and production of energy. This has not been straightforward, and has taken more than 6 months to get all the different organisations linked up to each other so that the installation, production, recording, transmitting of information, and sale back to EDF in contracted and completed. We are still at the last stage incomplete! So, patience is very necessary and taking the long view – very counter-cultural in our modern world……

 

 

 

We have also made some progress on internal renovations of the guest bedrooms, bathroom and exterior of the front of the house and weather end of the barn, so that is encouraging.

 

 

Another big challenge has been to tame the now well-developed woodland, as some of the trees, notably the aspens, are something like 30m high and well beyond us! So we are endeavouring to curb and prune younger trees to shapes that will be farmable in an ongoing and effective way – dangerous work and needing patient and skill in handling. 

 

 

The beauty of the autumn in the woodland this year was breath-taking.

 

 

We have added 3 Suffolk sheep to our livestock, and they are a delight – friendly and interested in what we are doing outside, keeping Carlos the pony company so that he is not so lonely, and helping to keep the grass under control. 

 

Next year, we hope to have rabbits too, and yes, they are destined for the pot to help in meat supply. Talking of supplies, we had enough butternut squashes to feed an army this year thanks to seeds germinating in one of our compost bins, and more seeds germinating in our daughter’s cupboard! All put to good use, and with the long hot dry summer, a perfect season for an abundant crop. Also a good year for apples with the previous wet of the winter followed by the warmth and reasonably windless summer.

 

 

 

Sarah and Matesuz left us to live and work in Le Havre and its surrounding area, and seem happy and blessed there, which is lovely to see.

 

 

On the mission and purpose side of development, we have extended our hospitality to Ephatta – a Christian pilgrimage hosting organisation, 

 

https://www.ephatta.com/advert/searchresult.aspx?city=Romagny&lat=48.640325&lng=-0.9658150000000205&start=29_11_2018&end=&guest=null

and Airbnb, as well as our usual monastic retreat days and other retreats on demand from those seeking time with God for specific or not so specific purposes. This has meant many and varied interesting people coming through our doors. We continue to hold the prayer in the same vein as the Day 31 meditation ……… that ‘God will bring the people of His choice and keep others firmly away.’ Our prayer is always that in both the timing and the people that come, it will be for God’s purposes and the growing of His Kingdom.

 

https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/22047129?adults=1&children=0&infants=0&toddlers=0&check_in=2019-04-13&check_out=2019-04-14&s=dniua7vo

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were pleased to meet in the Dordogne in September with our dear friends Cathy and Brian, to update and discuss ways forward in both our contexts

 

 

 

 

and then we were privileged to meet with other European leaders of the Northumbria Community in Holland in late October, also to evaluate where we are as a community on the Continent of Europe, and where the Community might go in the future this side of the Channel. 

Of course, Brexit gives us all concern, particularly those of us who will become 3rd country nationals after the UK’s departure from the EU – a profoundly sad and unfortunate decision by the UK government after what has been shown to be a very faulty method of getting there. Something which would sadden the heart of Jesus, who always welcomed the stranger, uplifted the outcast, and spoke of brotherly love as the most important thing binding us all together in this life and the next. Division, racism and treating the ‘other’ as somehow unworthy, were at the back of the queue of his teachings about the Kingdom of God. 

How awful it has been to witness the hate speech, sectarianism and unkindness coming out of the mouths of leaders in the UK, both towards their fellow Britons, as well as to their nearest neighbours across the Channel. As a Community, we feel we must fight this and present a completely different face of English speakers living as immigrants in France.

As one draws towards Christmas again, one is reminded that the Son of God was an immigrant and a refugee, fleeing with his family to a foreign land in the hope that it would take them in and house them until it was safe to go home. If Egypt had been as unwelcoming to them as nations are today in their refusal to help immigrants and refugees, we would have no Christmas story to tell at all.

In the words of Brigid the hospitable one –
 

There is a friend’s love in the gentle heart of the Saviour.

For love of Him we offer friendship and welcome every guest.

Lord, kindle in my heart a flame of love to my neighbour,

to my enemies, my friends, my kindred all,

from the lowliest thing that liveth to the name that is highest of all.
 

I would welcome the poor and honour them.

I would welcome the sick in the presence of angels

and ask God to bless and embrace us all.

Seeing a stranger approach - I would put food in the eating place,

drink in the drinking place, music in the listening place,

and look with joy for the blessing of God, 
who often comes to my home in the blessing of a stranger.

 

We call upon the Sacred Three

to save, shield and surround

this house, this home, this day,

this night and every night, each single night.

Print Print | Sitemap
The Northumbria Community in France Trust is registered with the HM Customs and Excise in England as a charity. © Andrew Perkins