February 2024 Digest - Mucknell Abbey
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February 2024 Digest

Welcome back to another month here at Mucknell Abbey. As I write, the view from my window is pretty misty, but there are signs of life, mostly in various birds flitting about. It’s been a full month here, and the very short gap between Candlemas and the start of Lent has made it feel even quicker – it’s hard to believe we’re just over a month away from Easter already! Here’s some of what we’ve been up to:

A new oblate

It was a great joy, on the feast of Candlemas, to welcome Edyta as an oblate of our community. She was joined by a few of her friends to support her, and we all enjoyed a beautiful Eucharist service, followed by a delicious lunch.

Edyta is 4th from the right, next to Abbot Thomas

Community Retreat

Following on from Candlemas, we began our pre-Lent Community Retreat which ran from Monday 5th to Saturday 10th. We had the great joy of welcoming Professor David F Ford to lead us through the week. He gave us a talk each day which led us over the six days through the Gospel according to John, which has been his academic focus for the past 20 years or so; he recently published a commentary on John. It was wonderful to “sit at the feet” of someone with such enthusiasm, knowledge and evident love for both the Gospel and the Jesus it proclaims, and many of us came away with a refreshed and exciting vision of this Gospel, and its place in our lives and worship. Speaking personally, I was particularly interested in what David had to say about the gospel being written into a situation of disunity in the nascent Christian community, and its focus on the person of Jesus as a focus for unity.

Estate Week

After a week “off”, we then had 4 days of Estate Work scheduled, for Monday 19th to Thursday 22nd. The weather got in the way towards the end of those days, but we still got an impressive amount of work done. We welcomed Tim Vick, a former Alongsider and now a tree surgeon, with his collection of chainsaws and ropes to pollard some of our willow, and also tidy up the old oak tree where it had dropped a limb last year. It was also great to have Domini and Glyn with us to help out – their energy and enthusiasm knows no bounds, and we are grateful for all they contribute to our lives. Here’s a few photos – mostly taken by Domini – to give you an idea of what we got up to:

A new resident

Some of our friends and guests may remember previous monastery cats; Bertie and Bella were the most recent here at Mucknell; when the Community lived at Burford, too, there was usually a cat around somewhere. We’ve been without a cat since Bertie died almost 4 years ago, but have finally got ourselves organised to welcome Rocky. We adopted him from the Blue Cross in Bromsgrove, and he came home to us on Saturday 24th. We don’t know a lot about his history, as he was a stray. He’s about 4, and he’s quite shy and nervous. He’s starting to get used to the sounds and people of the Abbey, and is very affectionate once he gets to know you.

As Lent continues, I have been reflecting particularly on Benedict’s words in chapter 49 of the Rule, ‘Observance of Lent’. Here he writes that our Lenten discipline should help us to “look forward to the holy feast of Easter with the joy of spiritual longing”. As we look around at a world that seems increasingly in need of God’s love and God’s peace, may our prayers and our lives help to create the love and peace we so long to see.