I promised to blog some of the good parts of the Rydal experience…..and some parts were really very good indeed. The hall is a lovely place, with a rabbit warren of confusing corridors (every time I went upstairs, my heart ached for generations of housemaids and tweenies, who had to deal with the twists and turns while carrying ewers of hot water in bygone days), gardens that will be truly fantastic when the restoration project is complete and the calm and friendly presence of the community to earth the whole thing in prayerful action. The view over Rydal Water etc is pretty amazing too, though the atrocious weather meant that we were less conscious of its beauty than we might have been.
However, I adopted one corner of the chapel beside a window and spent a fair bit of time just being there in the space and silence. The photo doesn’t really give you any sense of the uncluttered peace of the chapel, but believe me, it worked. Big time.
The current Warden of the hall is a Friend, so on Monday and Thursday Morning Prayer consisted of a very short reading from the “Advices and Queries” and then a time of silent reflection, which was a real gift. In fact, I came home with my own copy of the booklet and am sure that passages will turn up here from time to time…There is so much that attracts me about Quakerism. It strikes me as a faith of deep integrity, which is demonstrably lived out in commitment to a better world…So many great workers for justice and peace have been Friends. Perhaps it is true that too much of our energy in the Anglican Church is absorbed in supporting the institution, - but I know that there is also too much that I value in my own tradition for emigration to be a possibility…I need liturgy and music in worship, though I long too for space and silence.
So much to learn, though. Don’t you love this strap line from the Quakers in Britain home page?
Quakers respect the creative power of God in every human being and in the world around us. We work through quiet processes for a world where peaceful means bring about just settlements.
"We work through quiet processes"
Mmmn..a welcome alternative to our endless succession of committees and commissions!
Actually, without prior intent, Quakerism was a bit of a feature of the week, as on Thursday we visited Kendal, and found this
The tapestry is housed in part of the Meeting House, and again the atmosphere of peace and space is a huge part of its power, though it is visually and emotionally pretty stunning in itself. I love the thought of 4,000 people of all ages across 15 countries stitching away to produce something which is beautiful in itself, and in the stories it tells. Just go and see it, if you are anywhere near at all. Please.