Thursday, July 24, 2008
Live - from St. Stephen's Parish, Hackington
It's quiet today, thank the sweet baby Jesus and all the angels that sing him to sleep. The bishops and the Integrity film crew are all up in London today for the Millennium Development Goals March. Well, actually, it looked more like a 'stroll' on the telly. All very proper and contained, with deliberate restraint.
Later, they'll have proper tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. All in good order, you know.
So, let me take this quiet time to show you around a bit.
The above is the entrance into St. Stephen's, Hackington, our gracious host while we're here in Canterbury. It's a delightfully typical English church, completely surrounded by the parish cemetery - or, as they like to say here "all the saints, who from their labours rest."
There are so many fascinating graves, some so old the names are no longer legible. One is of a 15 year old boy, "Killed (not died) in an accident," it reads, in 1854 and then, sadly: "He will not grow old." The grief his parents' bore is still palpable all these centuries later, isn't it?
One is of a 3 month old girl, died in 1867 on which is noted: "Of such is the Kingdom of God."
There's also this plaque in the church which reads: "On the south side of the chancel and within the rails lie the remains of Mr. William Bunce of Camberwell, Surrey. Son of the Rev. John Bunce. Formerly vicar of this parish for more than half a century and of Mr. William Carter also of Camberwell and a native of the City of Lichfield. The former died 22 August 1831 aged 76 years and the later, 2 September 1836 aged 83 years. They had lived in a course of uninterrupted friendship for sixty years. And in the grave they are not divided."
Whew! Makes my eyes sweat. You can read the "Cardinal Newman/Fr. Ambrose St. John version of this in The Lambeth Witness, Issue 3, July 23.
Bring your tissues.
The Parish Hall where we are working is just across the way from the church. Lovely, actually. The neighborhood is bustling with traffic and kids on bikes.
Here's the view up the road toward University of Kent. There's a most dangerous "traffic calming" thingy to the far left of the picture which you can't see. The British love "roundabouts" and "traffic calming" which I suppose is necessary when you drive as they do - not only on the wrong side of the road (tee hee), but also like veritable bats out of hell.
No joke. I drive in the passenger seat with my 'eyes wide shut', as it were, most of the time. No wonder they need something to calm the traffic.
You can see the Beverlie Pub up there on the right.
Here it is. They have amazing fish 'n chips (Though not wrapped in newspaper. Against the law, you know. Pity about that, in'it?), but I was told they charge too much. Seven pounds and a half. You can get them around town for three pounds and a half. Or I'm told.
No matter. Either way, the dollar is so far down in value it costs twice as much as you might get it at home. Thanks, Shrub.
Here's Jon Richardson, hard at work. No. Honestly. He's one of the hardest working folk around here.
I am absolutely convinced that if we asked John Clinton Bradley, the coordinator of the Communications Center, to get together with Jon Richardson to try and find an end to the War in Iraq, our troops would be home at the start of the new school year.
The communications place is a whirl of intense activity. Folks from Changing Attitudes UK and Changing Attitudes Nigeria work together with Inclusive Church UK, Integrity USA, TransEpiscopal, Episcopal Women's Caucus, the Chicago Consultation and a list of other groups I can't think of this very red hot second.
There's Jon Richardson, John Clinton Bradley, Carol Cole Flanagan, EWC and Chicago Consultation, and Susan Russell, all hard at work.
Ah, yes, and finally, one snap of the Market Place, which is twice as big as I remembered it from 10 years ago. Lots more booths hawking lots of stuff - the usual coffee mugs, baseball caps, etc. to purchase, lots and lots of organizations happy to tell you about their work and ministry.
This is the Changing Attitude/Integrity space which features lovely, comfortable love seat (of course!) and overstuffed chairs where one can sit down and have a chat and visit. Bishops wander by when they're not in session ('Indaba Groups") - some averting their eyes as if to avoid the "cooties" and others sitting down and engaging in fairly intense conversation.
This is our film crew, Cynthia Black and Katie Sherrod with long-time Integrity NY saint, Phil Nicholson, packing up after filming one of Bishop Gene's visit to the Market Place.
It's an amazing experience. The excitement that surrounds one of his visits is like unto a 'rock star'. Everyone wants to tell him how much they admire him and to thank him for his courage and witness. The nice fellow over at the Coffee stand made a latte just for Bishop Gene and absolutely insisted that he take it for free. He did so with tears in his eyes saying, "It's an honor to serve you, sir."
It's hard not to get all girly-burbly when this happens.
If only the rest of the Anglican Communion could see this.
One last image. This is where I come to sit in the morning, mid afternoon and early evening. It's just to the left of the entrance to the church.
It's lovely and quiet, shady and cool. I want to build one in the back yard of the rectory when I get home. Two poles on the side, three across the back, three across the top. If I plant in August, think it would be covered with wisteria or clematis before the end of September.
It's also surrounded by gravestones which make for fascinating reading while I'm sitting there with my mug of hot tea.
All perfectly lovely, as they say.
Alright. That will be just about enough of that. It's back to work for me. I'll be writing a sermon for Sunday - preaching at St. Andrew's, Rugby, about an hour or so outside of London. And, I want to tell you all about last night's premier of "Voices of Witness - Africa." Very, very powerful.
Ta for now.
(Have you noticed? I've got the "Madonna English" thing down fairly well, right?)