Exploring New Monasticism
Rhythm of the Day
09:30 Morning Office
13:00 Lunch and
14:00 Reflection and Prayer
18:00 Evening Office
22:30 House quiet
Le Rythme du Jour
08:30 Petit Déjeuner
09:30 Offices du Matin
13:00 Offices de Midi et Déjeuner
14:00 Réflexion et prière
18:00 Offices du Soir
temps de partage et de
22:30 Maison calme
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
We celebrate 10 years of this house of prayer and hospitality .....
Enjoy the pictures of 'Then and Now'
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.
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.’