Thursday, July 17, 2008
We have just finished our first long day. It began with worship together in the "Big Top" at 7:15 AM. After breakfast, we had our first small group Bible study.
There are about six in my group,from England, Australia, the West Indies, and my colleague from Hawaii. Then all the bishops got on buses and for the short trip to Canterbury Cathedral.
We sat "collegiate style" on each side of the nave, and Rowan Williams spoke to us about our ministry as bishops. Each of two meditations was followed by a time for silent reflection in the cathedral. It was closed to the public for this "retreat" so in between being prayerful and still, I wandered around and looked at the building undisturbed. The retreat lasted until about 4 when we finished with Evensong.
It was an awesome feeling to spend quiet time a few feet away from the tomb of Thomas Beckett, and in the chapel of St Anselm, a personal favorite of mine. I mediated, prayed (especially for the folks in Arizona)and read from a little book of poems of George Herbert that I picked up in a used book store in Cambridge--great devotional stuff.
Another highlight was singing together in this great cathedral space with its wonderful resonate acoustics. When 700 of us would say the Lord's Prayer in our own languages, the vast space of the cathedral would sound like the crash of the ocean or a distant thunderstorm.
Laura spend the day with the spouses. They also did Bible study together. She reports an open spirit, but folks are naturally keeping to their group of friends and common language this early one.
So far, a good time is being had by all, we can only complain about the long lines and the drizzly weather, but the accomdations and the food are both top notch.
Tomorrow it is back the Cathedral for our second day of retreat.