It’s a mixed blessing to have the diocesan retreat house actually in your own parish. When I was there last, on my ordination retreat, I was terrified that if I stepped outside the grounds I might run straight into a member of St M’s congregation, just when I was trying to concentrate on me and God, rather than indulging my huge talent for worrying about other people…And it can be sad not to go properly "away" when there are chapter "away days". I can almost see this house from Glenfall's garden.
However, there’s not a lot I can do about it, and sometimes it feels rather a privilege.
This was the certainly the case when I was phoned to ask if I’d be willing to lead one of their Lenten Eucharists…I was happy to accept and perfectly calm about the whole thing until last night, when the phone rang again, with the news that WonderfulBishop was likely to be part of a very small congregation.
At this point all my insecurities kicked in with full force. I realised that I’d only once celebrated the Eucharist outside St M’s (and though I don’t love every aspect of the way we do it here, it is at least familiar), that it was less than a year since WB (who is a seriously good liturgist) had taken the time and trouble to give us a morning’s training on how to celebrate,and (for no good reason) that I was almost certainly doing everything All Wrong. What’s more, I’m so young in ministry, I was struggling with the concept of speaking words of absolution and blessing to my seniors like this….My theology can deal with it just fine, - but, emotionally it felt a tad presumptuous.
I wandered around the house bleating about my general inadequacy till DarlingDaughter said, with just a touch of acerbity,
“It’s the Eucharist, Mummy. It’s what you DO. And you always come home purring…”
Fast forward to this morning. Overnight rain cleared to blue skies, birds and daffodils seemed in competition to proclaim it indisputably spring and I realised I’d actually slept rather well, despite everything.
And of course, it was fine.
More than fine, actually.
I’d gone straight from that chapel to the Cathedral last July and not been to a Eucharist there since, so it felt very much a continuum…AND what’s more, today the church remembers John Donne, whose Hymne to God the Father was part of a very important moment of encounter (blogged here), which I hang onto at difficult times.
So many blessed moments came together and there at the heart of them all was the Eucharist.
So, not a mixed blessing after all.