March 2023 Digest - Mucknell Abbey
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March 2023 Digest

It’s been a fairly quiet month here at Mucknell, as we’ve settled into Lent. We’ve been enjoying the signs of Spring around us: plentiful daffodils, blossom just about ready to show itself on the plum and pear trees in the Orchard, and sowing the first seeds in the Kitchen Garden.

Wildflower meadow

Visitors have over recent months noticed that the lawn area outside the guest wing has been looking less than pristine! This is entirely intentional, and is part of Br. Jonathan’s ongoing landscaping and gardening in this area. Various folks during Estate Work Weeks have helped to turn over the grass that was here, and then to rake the resultant soil into something resembling a level surface. Br. Jonathan has then sowed a variety of wildflower seed to hopefully create a small wildflower meadow. This will enhance the biodiversity of our estate, provide food for various insects and also not need mowing quite as frequently as a grass lawn! We purchased seed from the lovely folks at Forest of Flowers just north of York, and are looking forward to seeing them come up and add to the beauty of our setting. You can see the transformation so far in these photos:

A Scientific Approach

There are all kinds of decisions both small and large that affect our life together, ranging from which biscuits we buy to how we sing the Office and celebrate the Holy Week liturgy. When folks ask us how these things are decided, we often explain that the approach can be somewhat haphazard, but generally involves asking everyone’s opinion and going from there, with the Abbot as the final arbiter. Sometimes though, a more scientific approach is needed, in which case we call on one of our resident scientists. Such is the case in our current exploration of various toilet roll options, after we realised that what we had been buying for some time was a) not recycled and b) quite expensive. Sr. Alison did some sterling and very detailed research, and settled on 5 options for us to try, which are currently adorning the sewing room tables:

She also devised, with help from a couple of others, a survey sheet for us to fill in about each brand, which will hopefully lead to one brand being our preferred option.

Not everyone has had time to try all the brands yet, but we’ll let you know how the results pan out in a future monthly digest!

Saying Farewell

On 20th of March, we prayed our farewells with Leah, one of our Alongsiders. She is heading back to the United States, and to her home state of New Hampshire, for a while and has taken a part-time job as a parish priest in the Episcopal Church. She’s hoping to spend some time with her parents and wider family. During her 10 months here we have hugely valued so many aspects of her work, particularly on the Estate and in the Kitchen Garden. We wish her well for the future, and are deeply grateful for all she has shared with us.

And Finally…

We featured in an article in the Church Times this month about the Alongsider schemes offered by various Religious Communities: “Testing a call to the Religious Life? Get embedded“. The article notes that we were one of the first communities to offer an Alongsider scheme, and includes interviews with both our Abbot Thomas, and also with Tim, a former Alongsider who still maintains links with the Community, most notably in helping with our tree work once or twice a year. If you, or anyone you know, is interested in experiencing life here at Mucknell Abbey, then have a look at our Alongsider information. The Alongsider programme is designed to be flexible, and welcomes those who would like to spend some time living with a monastic community, sharing in our life, as well as those discerning a vocation to the monastic life. For more information about monastic vocation more generally, the Anglican Religious Life Yearbook website is a good place to start.

And very finally, as we prepare to enter into Holy Week and the Paschal mystery once again, we pray for God’s blessing on all who will join in the prayer and worship of these days, wherever in the world they may be, and look forward to sharing in the joy of the resurrection with all God’s people.