I have returned from 4 days at St Andrew’s Abbey in Bruges.
The time away was an experience and there is lots to say (and not say!) about the few days but some highs and lows:
the exclusive nature of the food which meant a couple of our group with dietary needs were excluded.
Vespers in Flemish – I’m sure the service was great but I couldn’t understand a word …
meals in silence – personally I love silence but meals are a time for conversation, in my opinion
a packed program with little space for reflection
being in a monastery in a totally different setting
I always enjoy the monastic rhythm of life which seems to energise me
space to consider things again about God and leadership
time to laugh and drink with friends and catch up with their stories
The topic of the few days was leadership and we discussed a few papers written by various theologians, although too many of them seemed to be from a Yale and Episcopal background and there are significant differences between the Episcopal model and the Anglican parish/FX model which cause me to question the validity of some of what the papers were suggesting.
On the last day we discussed a lecture given by Rowan Williams at Cuddesdon in 2004. I think this was by the best discussion we had as we considered Archbishop Rowans suggestion of priests needing to be released to be a lookout, an interpreter and a weaver. Essentially here, the Archbishop is saying that leadership is about seeing the landscape, engaging with culture, interpreting what is happening and looking for links as he shows people where Christ is working in communities today.
Any lecture that advocates any of us taking time to watch and attempt to understand before acting is worth considering in my opinion … so why not go and have a read. I think I found it encouraging too as Archbishop Rowan has given me a language to articulate what I have been attempting over the last 2 years.
It’s good to be back in Rochester. The time away was ok, I can’t say it was great as it wasn’t, but being with friends who both know when to laugh and when to be serious was a good experience – thanks guys and girls!