27 Oct October 2023 Digest
Welcome back to Mucknell Abbey, in what has been a changeable month weather-wise. We’re definitely into Autumn now, as leaves start to turn colour on the estate and we work on putting the Kitchen Garden to bed for the winter Read on to find out what else we’ve been up to this month!
The month began with a week of Community Retreat, one of two that we have together each year. We were blessed this time to have Rev’d Adrian Dorber to lead our reflections. Until earlier this year, Adrian was the Dean of Lichfield Cathedral. His theme for the week was Sacraments and Parables, and he spoke to us about Jesus Christ as The Sacrament, the living mystery of God, describing God as one perpetual movement of love. He reminded us of Julian of Norwich’s insight that “where Jesus is spoken, the blessed trinity is to be understood,” and talked of the delight of the self-emptying love of the Holy Trinity, that constantly gives of itself, and that in this giving is mostly deeply itself. We are all grateful to Adrian for his time and sharing of his wisdom with us.
Hot on the heels of our retreat, Abbot Thomas was off to Mirfield for the Conference of Leaders of Anglican Religious Communities, attended this year by some 20 leaders of communities. He had an enjoyable and interesting time, and we were all keen to hear the news from various communities that he bought back with him.
As ever, we have welcomed a wonderful variety of people to Mucknell this month, both regular guests and folk just popping in. It was good to welcome Bishop Anne, our Bishop Visitor, for a flying visit on Friday 20th. She’s been very busy lately as both Bishop of Aston and Acting Bishop of Birmingham, and so it’s good to be able to catch up with her when she’s passing through.
On the weekend of Friday 13th – Sunday 15th we welcomed some of our Oblates and postulant/novice Oblates for a weekend retreat. It was lovely to have those who could make it, and a real support to the Community to know that there are people “out there” who believe deeply in our lives, and who carry something of Mucknell Abbey out into their different contexts.
We also hosted a small group from Royal Hollaway University of London, where Fr. Orion Edgar, a good friend of ours, is part of the chaplaincy team. Those who came were eager to find out a bit about our life, and got a potted history from Br. Stuart, and a chance to learn a bit about lectio divina with me in the afternoon. A particularly nice surprise was that Rev’d Josh Cleaver (in between me and Br. Stuart on the photo), curate in a nearby parish, had come with the group as part of a placement with Fr. Orion; Josh and his family were part of the congregation at the parish church in Langley, near Slough, that I attended before moving here. It was good to catch up with Josh, and to meet some new folk as well.
A new town?
As some of our regular guests will know, there are plans being made, as part of the South Worcestershire Development Plan to build a new town between J7 of the M5 and Drake’s Broughton, a village nearby. The proposed town will eventually surround us, and will be a major development, comprising some 10,000 homes to be built over the next 30 years or so. Land between Mucknell Abbey and Worcestershire Parkway Station will be used to construct the town centre, and there will hopefully be better and safer road access to the monastery as a result. The most up to date information can be found on the dedicated Worcestershire Parkway New Settlement website, and the area most relevant to us is the land being promoted/developed by Summix and Homes England, who have a specific website here: Town Centre First. As a community our own personal opinions vary – the new town will transform our immediate environment, and lead to changes in our life here, which excites some and alarms others. Our approach as a Community has been to work proactively with the developers, sharing our concerns as well as our wishes for a new settlement. There have been various different plans for the area around the monastery, but in all these we feel that the developers and the local council have generally respected our needs, and indeed see Mucknell Abbey as a real asset to the new town. Our most sensitive boundary is the east one, as this is the boundary that comes closest to our buildings. It therefore works well for us that the land immediately beyond our boundary will be used to create a country park. As to the other boundaries, plans have been fluid!
Wet and windy
Along with much of the country, we experienced some very heavy rainfall last week, being just on the edges of Storm Babet – as these photos show, the Kitchen Garden was just a little damp!
As ever, we continue to pray for all those in need, both in this country and around the world. The intense violence in Israel and Gaza has been difficult to take in, and of course there is also ongoing war in Sudan, Ukraine, Yemen and many other places. Throughout it all, we strive to bring our world to God in prayer, and to become the peace we would wish to see in the world, as we look forward to the day when “mourning and crying and pain will be no more”.