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 Méditation et prière
18:00 Offices du Soir
temps de partage et de convivialité
22:30 Maison calme
For all of us 2020 has been an unusual year right across the world, to put it mildly! For some, it has been a year of tragedy and loss – friends, family, jobs, ways of living, social contact, disruption to education and so on. For others, it has been a turning point, a time to reflect, regroup, find a better way of living, enjoy the lack of busyness, the time alone, the time to try out new hobbies, pick up old ones, do more cooking, do less activities – you can fill in the gaps, I am sure. These things all point to paradox, one of the things the Northumbria Community novitiate process invites us to embrace, and one which probably underlines the nature of life, love and God.
I think we have all discovered, and perhaps tired of, Zoom, for a multitude of reasons. We have certainly found it has helped to serve people in keeping together virtually, if not in person. This has helped in linking people across the Continent of Europe and beyond. Due to the limits of people movement as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have had regular Evening Prayer with folk from Africa, the Continent of Europe as well as the UK via Zoom. We have also linked with other NC companions and friends across France, Germany, the Netherlands and Hungary in conversations and a new fledgling NC in Europe group.
People have managed to come on retreat in between covid-19 lockdowns to us here at L’Abri à Suvigny, but it has been more challenging than previous years, and some have had to cancel their plans. It was particularly good to welcome Gerd and Sybille from Germany, and have a conversation about the group to help connect people across the Continent of Europe.
We were blessed to be able to share in a family holiday to South Africa to link up with Andrew’s family there celebrating a big birthday for his father, and that renewed our love for the country and the folk living there. The natural landscape, vibrancy and colour of South Africa always energises and inspires us. Happily, we saw no violence or criminal activity while we were there, although we know these are ever present, and form a paradox with the beauty of the region that can, at times, be overwhelming. Later on this year, we were given the wonderful news that our daughter, Sarah, and her husband will be parents for the first time (God-willing) in the Spring, so we enter a new chapter as grandparents!
And now for the news about L’Abri à Suvigny. It is soon to become L’Abri à SAVIGNY, as we move from our location between Mortain and Saint Hilaire-du-Harcouët to Savigny-le-Vieux, near to the ruins of the 11th century Cistercian monastery that was started by Saint Vital, the most influential monk in these parts at that time. He was also chaplain to Robert de Mortain, and his hermitage is just outside Mortain where he retreated for some time in his life before being given extensive lands (including the forest around Savigny) by the Comte de Mortain to build several abbeys and monasteries.
We have purchased a farm house and multiple barns, and amazingly, it also has a chapel which needs restoration and revival. So, our next challenge is to rebuild the ancient ruins, raise up the foundations of old and mend the broken altar, hopefully reawakening the interest of the local French population in its use.
We hope there will be folk from the Community who will be interested in joining us on this new adventure in the fullness of time. Interestingly, this property has its own upper and nether springs. Our water source is from near the top of the hill above the house, and there is a well just near the house, so that seems to reflect something which has been important in the story of the Mother House.
We are currently engaged in managing the handover of Suvigny to the delightful couple who have bought it as the fulfillment of their dream to own a home and live in France – very much a ‘meant to be’ for them, and they will continue its story, revering the past, and building for the future. Continuing here was made impossible for us because of the car accident and subsequent injuries that I suffered to my back, which meant I couldn’t do the DIY anymore.
We have learnt much from our time here, and put into practice the risky living that is the Celtic way, but it is now time to move on and pick up new and different challenges, but also to be available to the opportunities in the place that God has chosen. We will be able to continue the links and friendships we have built up over the years in this region of Normandy, but also, open the door to new relationships and an adjusted future for ourselves that will be more suited to our current situation.
So, for us, a new chapter begins, although the stories and memories of people from the past will still be there to sustain and inspire us. We hope to welcome many more people to the new ‘L’Abri’ at La Vallée, Savigny-Le-Vieux. We will keep this website updated to keep you informed, as well as contributing to the Mother House newsletter.
This life ensures we are surrounded by seeming paradoxes, separation, and togetherness, loss and gain, the past and future, not knowing, yet trusting, feeling powerless but faithful, lonely, and yet linked, experiencing tragedy and celebration, life taking a sudden twist, and then new paths becoming visible. If we take time to see, in all these things we find the eternal Christ, sometimes hidden, sometimes revealed, not the ‘either or’, but the ‘both and’ in whom ‘all things hold together’ (Eph 2:21), and through whom, all things are reconciled (Col 1:20). We hope and pray that, as we enter this new year of 2021, we may all find the Christ consciousness that will enable us to connect with paradox and mystery in a way that will transform us more and more into His likeness, and enable us to hold together the paradoxes that we find in ourselves and our lives.