Begin at the beginning

It’s always good advice when starting something new. This new beginning has many different threads and strands and here I will reflect on some of them.

In November 2016 I took the step of becoming a seeker with the Lay Community of St Benedict (LCSB): a new beginning on a faith journey with many beginnings. I was 58 years old on the day I became a seeker but this part of the journey began over 35 years ago when I first encountered Benedictine spirituality, so a new beginning on an old beginning then. During the year as a seeker I am reading the Rule of St Benedict again and taking part in community gatherings. The beginning of the Rule has already provided some valuable encouragement rooting me in my own community, a school where I am Chaplain, a sort of top-up for the ongoing journey.

The end of January came and another new journey, this time a long train journey to Devon, to Buckfast Abbey, to join my first gathering of the LCSB. It was misty and damp, dark by the time I arrived but a warm welcome awaited me. Our theme was to be from Genesis: a book of beginnings, a retreat for beginners beginning again. We were to explore the story of our wandering Iraqi ancestor. I have reflected on that aspect of the content of the weekend on my own blog (http://foowr.org.uk/notesfromchapel/ ). Here it is more about what it feels like to be a beginner again.

After a long period of turmoil and distress, I spent the summer walking the Cleveland Way (there’s a blog about that too http://cleveland2016.blogspot.co.uk/ ) and it was then that I decided to explore the possibility of joining LCSB. At the beginning of the Cleveland Way its 110 miles seemed a very long way indeed. It was the furthest I’d ever done myself, though not an intimidating as I’d first imagined, but friendly and interesting with lots of support and encouragement experienced during the 10 days it took me. So beginning something new might not be a bad thing.

In fact this first weekend was a very positive experience. The setting was welcoming and relaxing. We stayed in a self catering house at Buckfast Abbey which was very comfortable, and with only a dozen of us, most suitable. Facilities were first class. The Abbey was a short walk away and we could drop in at any time. For Vespers in Latin we had a translation, for Compline also in Latin the lights were out and the Monks chanted from memory. The large Abbey building was swapped for a smaller chapel for the midday office, this time in English. This was my favourite service as the smaller curved roof chapel was more intimate, we sat closer, we could see and hear each other better, our voices held together and I felt a greater sense of connection. Add to this the snowdrop and primrose flowering in the car park and the weekend certainly felt that the right beginning to 2017.

I returned to Yorkshire to learn that the President of the USA had banned people from seven countries from entering the US. One of those countries was Iraq, the former home of my wandering ancestor. So it was a timely thing that we had considered that story, prayed together, journeyed together.

Janet Lees

janet@foowr.org.uk

@silcoateschapel

Janet is a new seeker with the LCSB. She is a member of the United Reformed Church, an ordained minister, and works as the Chaplain at Silcoates School in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

 

Categories LCSB | Tags: | Posted on February 7, 2017

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