Jul 25, 2006

Over the Pond, Days 5-7 -- Northumbria Community and beyond

Well here I am in London, after being offline for a few days. Thanks for all the comments; they've definitely helped me feel connected to my life at home. Let's see...

At the last post, I was wrapping up my work in Durham on Friday. It concluded on a good note, still processing the Aquinas paper but with a much clearer sense of where it's going and its key contributions. Add that to the progress we made in outlining the rest of the thesis, and it's been the most productive trip to date. I've come to realize just how invaluable these trips are for my clarity and momentum. Working on this project back in Lexington can be quite isolating, but these periodic times of concentrated study somehow generate enough energy to keep the process moving. It's amazing how many ideas come from just discussing the material, at least for a verbal processor like me.

Plus, I just love Durham. There's really nothing quite like it -- the presence and history of the cathedral, the steady nature of the daily services, English breakfasts with good tea, walking along the river Wear with people rowing past, the little pub where I always eat, Bimbi's fish and chip shop, Durham Market. It's great to arrive on the train, and before you even pull into the station, you can see the cathedral rising up over the town. It's one of my favorite places. Until next time...

Friday afternoon, I left Durham and traveled north to the Northumbria Community, a small group of folks committed to living a contemplative life together. Their days consist of praying the daily office, working at the innumerable tasks related to keeping up a large, old house, working the garden, cooking and cleaning, traveling to speak about their community (and other things, I'm sure). It was quiet, peaceful, and just what I needed after concentrating on school. I slept, and read, and drank tea, and weeded the garden, and washed dishes, and ate good and simple food, and slept some more. (One morning I didn't emerge until almost noon; they were about to come looking for me.) I'm thankful to our friends Pete and Catherine for introducing me to this place, and I'm looking forward to returning, as it's only an hour from Durham. Then I took the train south to Harrogate to stay at a friend's house on the way to London.


1) truly beautiful weather in Durham and Northumbria, lovely rain and cool temps
2) weeding in the lovely soil - not clay like we have in Kentucky, but a rich, light, crumbly mix that makes weeding a breeze
3) curried cauliflower soup, fresh cabbage salad, rhubarb crumble and ice cream
4) sitting in a squishy armchair underneath a window, reading and drinking tea, and watching the house martins feeding their babies in the nest at the top of the window. I spent a LOT of time in this chair.
5) drinking a beer and playing cards with three young folks from Scotland, on the train from Durham

1 comment:

James Church said...

I'm glad your work is going well- several friends of mine will be studying at Durham next year. And I know how truly refreshing time spent at the Northumbria community can be. I am really interested in your communal life in Lexington. I have just completed my first degree and I have been greatly influenced by the ecclesiology of Stanley Hauerwas. It is my belief that intentional Christian community is essential to the survival of authentically Christian faith in post-Christendom. Anyway, forgive my ramblings I wish you all the best,