Welcome to my blog! It's a collection of pictures I've taken and thoughts that have come to me since I began my sabbatical wandering. There's no specific theme other than my desire to experience the spirituality of different cultures and places. I welcome your comments and conversation. It's a wonderful trip for me and I thank you for sharing it.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Out of Africa

Who can resist a title like that? I arrived in England without incident after a long flight. It was sad to leave behind new friends, but since I’m discovering the world is such a small place, I have no doubt we’ll meet again.

England is a world away. Africa is so vast that from whoever you travel you can see miles that must stretch into the hundreds. Hills and mountains fade into the distance and the night sky pulsates with stars. By contrast England is compact and tightly organized. Deplaning in London I found the trains to Sittingbourne from which I taxied to Bredgar, a small village south east of London. The trip was roughly an hour and a half. Canon John and Rosemary Smith have a wonderful ministry among five small churches in the area as well as John’s work as the Diocesan Education officer for the Rochester Diocese.

Though not ordained, Rosemary is every bit as active in the parish life as John is and they are a wonderful team and delightful hosts. Their son Joe, daughter-in-law Gina and grandson Jack are members of St. George’s which is how we became acquainted in the first place.

The Vicarage of Bredgar is a stunning 18th century home and as long as I remember to duck I’ll have no problems with the ceiling beams or doorways. It’s a quiet setting with gardens beginning to come to life, pastures behind the house on acres of farm land all around. The neighborhood pub is just around the corner and perfect for lunch!

I’ll be covering the services on the Sunday after Easter for John while he and Rosie will be at St. George’s visiting their family. I’ll also be covering for John and preaching at Evensong at Rochester Cathedral.

I arrived on Wednesday and Friday I went into London to walk around and take in the city. Victoria Station, Westminster Abby, walking the Victoria Embankment along the Thames, and an obligatory stop at Cheshire Cheese made a good sightseeing day. From Isibindi to Big Ben within a week’s time again made me realize how fortunate I am to making this trip and experiencing the wide ranges in land and people.

As I write this I hear the Cathedral Choirs rehearsing for a concert tonight of Stainer’s “Crucifixion” and Faure’s “Requiem”. Last week I heard and swayed to African drums. Although it’s Holy Week, it has a ring of Pentecost - each praising God in their own way, singing and speaking in their own languages.





Kirk Petersen said...

Glad to hear your travels are going well. Nina and I just came from the Tenebrae service, you would have been proud of the loud noise at the end. I nearly jumped out of the pew.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bern!
I typed in"bredgar, and went to images, hoping to get some idea of where you are.... and I see your FACE! Too funny! So I get to read your thoughts, and observations, see your photographs, and follow your journey - wonderful - AND, it's nice not to have to rely on Nick for my info! We are so happy for you! Love to you, and Mom and Dad - we got Dad's note that the trip went well. Yay!