August 2011


Queen Anne’s Ride, dating from 1708, is a grand avenue similar to The Long Walk, also three miles in length, but unlike its more famous counterpart, it features only a single row of trees on each side. It runs south-west towards Ascot. In the 18th Century it was known as Queen’s Walk, the name changing during the nineteenth century.


    A local furore erupted in 1993 when some of the older oaks adjacent to the A332 road to Bracknell were felled in order to restore The Ride. The Association of High Sherriffs had provided 1000 oak trees for the avenue, celebrating 1000 years of the office of High Sherriff. Many residents misunderstood the project and complained about the felling of the older oaks, but in truth it was an example of how Windsor Great Park is managed with an eye to the distant future, the restoration project being undertaken for the undoubted pleasure of visitors to the park one hundred years from now, and more. Even in the 1880s and 1890s trees in the ride were reported as dead and dying, and so this regular replanting is a standard task in forestry.


  Queen Anne’s Ride makes a splendid walk in the summer, from Queen Anne’s Gate, at the end of King’s Road, to the boundary of the Park near Ascot Heath and the Racecourse, famous for Royal Ascot Week, passing by The Village, within The Great Park.

 

Little patches of grass disappear
In the jaws of lusty squirrels

Who slip into the spruce.
Cars collapse into parts.

Spring dissolves into summer,
The kitten into the cat.

A tray of drinks departs from the buffet
And voilà! the party’s over.

All that’s left are some pickles
And a sprig of wilting parsley on the rug.

When I think of all those
Gong-tormented Mesozoic seas

I feel a ripple of extinction
And blow a smoke ring through the trees.

Soon there will be nothing left here but sky.
When I think about the fact

I am not thinking about you
It is a new way of thinking about you.

 

Suzanne Buffam, Vanishing Interior

 

28th August Mattins St Georges Chapel Windsor (Jeremiah 15. 15–21 Matthew 16. 21–28 )

‘Those who want to save their life will lose it’ (Matthew 16.25)

 I remember going to a Ruby Wedding party in my last parish and delighted in the way the couple seemed to be able to laugh at themselves and each other in the thank you speeches. We were treated to this one liner – “My husband and I have managed to be happy together for 40 years. I guess this is because we’re both in love with the same man.”

Do you love yourself? This morning when you looked at yourself in the bathroom mirror what did you see? A contented self? An ageing self? A fearful or angry self? Who are we – what are we? What might it mean to die to self?

When I was in Chicago in 2008 I occasionally worshipped with the Quakers. I picked up a leaflet “How To Be Miserable.” It gives this advice, “Think about yourself. Talk about yourself. Use “I” as often as possible. Mirror yourself continually in the opinion of others. Listen greedily to what people say about you. Expect to be appreciated. Be suspicious. Be jealous and envious. Be sensitive to slights. Never forgive a criticism. Trust nobody but yourself. Insist on consideration and respect. Demand agreement with your own views on everything. Sulk if people are not grateful to you for favours shown them. Never forget a service you have rendered. Shirk your duties if you can. Do as little as possible for others.” What do you see in that mirror?

In the Gospel reading we are challenged to a self denying living and loving, to abandon a self will seeks to manipulate others, preoccupied only with its own power and with creating and defending its worth. This is a radical call. Taking up the cross asks us to be real and vulnerable, to be loved and loving. There is a cost to this. This passage does not call us away from what it means to be a human being, but causes us to be truly human, to find our true selves in God. By abandoning our false selves. Loss and gain is what this Gospel living concerns itself with. Clearly we are being encouraged to aspire as to what will be of gain. The true nurture of self is to love ourselves as God loves us. It is serving the false self that is selfishness. Caring for oneself as God cares for us means opening oneself to God’s love as the life and energy of the soul. That love will expand in all directions: towards ourselves, towards others, towards God. When Christianity is perceived, as teaching that we should ignore our own interests, there is deception and untruth. The Gospels appeal to people to recognise what is good for them; what is gainful. The answer lies in a revolutionary thought. I find myself we find ourselves, when we allow ourselves to be loved and to love and to abandon the effort to manipulate that love from others by playing games and exercising power.

 All of us have had our fair share of serving the false self. We all build up facades and hide behind them and it’s difficult to change. Threatened, shrivelled people hide behind massive artifices which have enabled them to survive – they do not need judgement and attack. They need – we need – tenderness and understanding. In this short passage we are confronted with ultimate issues which affect the world of the individual as well as the world in which we all share. Love sets us free to love and to lead in serving and to find fulfilment in such giving which characterises the life of God revealed in Christ. This is our journey and our journey’s end.

What do we see in that mirror? What do we need to do to save our lives? Beware and remember that advice on how to be miserable: “Think about yourself. Talk about yourself. Use “I” as often as possible. Mirror yourself continually in the opinion of others. Listen greedily to what people say about you. Expect to be appreciated. Be suspicious. Be jealous and envious. Be sensitive to slights. Never forgive a criticism. Trust nobody but yourself. Insist on consideration and respect. Demand agreement with your own views on everything. Sulk if people are not grateful to you for favours shown them. Never forget a service you have rendered. Shirk your duties if you can. Do as little as possible for others.”

 Let us pray Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do. I thank you; I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures. I wish no more than this, a Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father. Amen

 Life, after all, is a struggle, a journey in uncharted space, an exercise in both gain and loss, joy and sorrow.

 No life consists of nothing but success and satisfaction, security and self- gratification.

Failure and disappointment, loss and pain are natural parts of the human equation. Then what? What use is an alleluia then, except perhaps to encourage some kind of emotionally unhealthy self-deception?

 

I believe the earth
exists, and
in each minim mote
of its dust the holy
glow of thy candle.
Thou
unknown I know,
thou spirit,
giver,
lover of making, of the
wrought letter,
wrought flower,
iron, deed, dream

the ordinary glow
of common dust in ancient sunlight.
Be, that I may believe. Amen.

 

From Denise Levertov, Opening Words

 

FR DONALD was our Warden for 27 years, and then Warden Emeritus. During the intercessions at Mass he would pray for the Sisters of the Love of God ‘wherever they may be’, and we would wonder… And we could apply the same phrase to him, praying for Fr Donald ‘wherever he may be’, whether in Canterbuiy, Denmark, Wales, or America. He used sometimes to say that his relationship to SLG provided a thread of continuity through the changes in his life; and he gave something of the same to us.

By way of tribute, at this stage I want simply to say that he was a good man. You only had to watch him censing the altar during the Eucharist to see that he was a man of God; God was the heart and centre of his life.

A necessarily hidden but treasured part of his life was his ministry to solitaries, and his understanding of the hermit life. And one of his enduring enthusiasms was for Julian of Norwich, whom he recognized as a great theologian significant for our times. So, having remembered Donald as we have known him, and entrusted him to God as God knows and loves him, let us allow Julian’s words to speak to us:

And I saw quite certainly in this and in everything that God loved us before he made us; and his love has never diminished and never shall. And all his works were done in this love; and in this love he made everything for our profit; and in this love our life is everlasting. We had our beginning when we were made; but the love in which he made us was in him since before time began; and in this love we have our beginning. And all this shall be seen in God without end, which may Jesus grant us. Amen.

When Mother Jane died, Fr Donald said to us that when a good person dies, there is a special out-pouring of grace for those who remain. May that be so for all of us now.

Sister Rosemary SLG

 

The priest and theologian AM Allchin, who has died aged 80, was deeply Anglican, yet embraced the Orthodox church, the Roman Catholic church and the free church spirit of Wales. Donald’s desire was for unity, and the baseline of that unity was the love of God.

His books were witness to this core interest: The Joy of All Creation: An Anglican Meditation On the Place of Mary (1984); Threshold of Light: Prayers and Praises from the Celtic Tradition (1986); Praise Above All: Discovering the Welsh Tradition (1991). He made contact with the Danish church through the writings of Nikolaj Grundtvig (1783-1872), and in 1997 published NFS Grundtvig: An Introduction to his Life and Work. If that was the breadth of his interests, the depth was a desire for the ancient monastic tradition of prayer, praise and hospitality. He was often in positions in the church which had monastic roots, or in communities of fellowship.

Donald was born in London, the youngest of four children of Frank Macdonald Allchin, a doctor, and his wife, Louise. At 16, he went to Westminster school, where the chaplain, Robert Llewelyn, suggested he should read The Letters of Evelyn Underhill. Later in life, Donald said that Llewelyn was the first person to help him see that theology was exciting.

From Westminster he went to Christ Church, Oxford, and it was there that his deep affinity with the Orthodox church was fostered. He attended the conferences of the Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius, which encourages links between the Orthodox and Anglican churches. In their periodical for 1949, he wrote: “It was a real revelation of the place which theology should hold in the life of the church.”

Later, he was to train for the ministry at Cuddesdon Theological College, near Oxford, and was ordained in 1957. His curacy was in the parish of St Mary Abbots, Kensington, west London, where he regularly reviewed books for the Orthodox journal Sobornost, and deepened his interest in the Orthodox church. Oxford drew him back in 1960, this time as librarian of the religious institution Pusey House, where he spent eight years. In the 1960s Donald began to discover Wales: its saints, poets and scholars.

In early 1967, and again in 1968, Donald taught in New York at the General Theological Seminary, and visited the charismatic monk, Thomas Merton, in Kentucky. In a letter to me on 31 March 1968, Donald wrote: “You have no idea what a difference the presence of the saints make in Britain, until you come to a great empty land like this one, which lacks that tradition.”

From 1968 until 1973 Donald was warden of the religious community of the Sisters of the Love of God in Oxford. This allowed him to encourage the monastic life more generally, to write, travel, attend conferences, give spiritual direction and encourage the future archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, with his doctoral thesis. In 1973 Donald was invited to be a residentiary canon of Canterbury, where he stayed for 14 years.

Yet Wales still beckoned. He became warden of the community of Sisters at Ty Mawr, near Monmouth. He learned Welsh as best he could, and all things Welsh delighted him. Eventually he went to live in Bangor, and from 1992 was honorary professor at the University of Wales in Bangor.

Donald looked for and found clues of where the spirit moved wisdom into the present world. He was an advocate of the spiritual and monastic life, and encouraged many in that calling. He was also available to others who simply needed time to talk. He enjoyed the telephone, but he certainly never made it into the electronic age. His domesticity was nil. Every so often, friends had to go in to tidy up the books, articles and manuscripts that littered his home. He will be best remembered for his desire to put people in touch with one another, and for all to experience God.

He is survived by his sister, Betty.

David Scott


 

For two-thirds of the world, poverty is the order of the day.

 Yet, as Epicurus knew, “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants’ It  is that kind of poverty of which Jesus speaks when he tells the rich young man to “sell everything you have, give to the poor, and come follow me.”

The alleluia that arises out of poverty is not about having nothing; the alleluia is in gratitude for the kind of poverty that want for nothing that does not add to a sense of the presence of God and the liberating grace of enoughness. May we all be so lucky as to have that much. For that we must all shape our hearts in different, more life-giving ways.

For that, we must all learn to cultivate in ourselves the poverty we do not know and grieve the riches that protect us from finding it.

Next Page »