Yesterday was a quick course in the essentials of British life for our guests (how to queue for registration, how to queue for supper, how to queue for an internet ID and password); today has seen Lambeth find its feet, with the first of three days of retreat.
Scripture, fellowship and worship are to the fore. Every day, even the retreat days, begins with Eucharist, breakfast and bible study. It’s quite something to hear people harmonising to hymns they’ve nver sung before in languages they don’t speak. Rowan has been superb. This is what he is at his very best at, weaving bible passages together in ways that draw out depths of insight into what being a bishop is about.
The cathedral and its precincts have been closed off for us today and tomorrow. As I arrived I heard one frustrated visitor to Canterbury complaining that she was going home Saturday and wouldn’t get to see the city’s main attraction. But frankly, it’s a working cathedral not a monument and we’re working it pretty hard.
Down in the crypt after lunch I found a quiet side chapel with some magnificent medieval wall-paintings and fell into prayer. About 20 minutes later I sensed someone cross my vision and opened my eyes. A nun had climbed over the altar rails and was stood in the sanctuary, arms stretching upwards towards one side of the ceiling, her hands obscured by a massive supporting pillar. What a lovely posture for praise I thought, then her flash bulb went off.
Highlight of the day: Rowan’s addresses.
Lowlight of the day: No hot water in the showers this morning. Conspiracy theorists will assume this is a plot by the organisers to stop bishops even thinking about sex, let alone talking about it.
[Editors’ note: David Walker is the Bishop of Dudley in the diocese of Worcester. He will be blogging for us regularly on Lambeth from a bishop’s perspective.]