Yesterday, Friday 29th December, Betty Hahner died. Some of you will have known Betty as she was a regular at Reading Priory back in the 90’s. We are holding a memorial for Betty this afternoon (30th) at 2.30pm. I had known Betty for over 20 years and appreciated her friendship even though we weren’t in touch on a regular basis.
I have added an extra retreat at Alton Abbey for next years schedule of events. It will be in the summer and run fromThursday 5th July to Sunday the 8th. The one in the Autumn will also be from Thursday to Sunday, November 1st – 4th. I have added the extra day because the feedback from the spring Stroud retreat was very positive and everyone seemed to like extending it by a day. I would be interested in any feedback regarding this.
From the 22nd to the 27th December (inclusive) the priory will be closed. There won’t be the normal meetings during that period. Nevertheless if you wish to use the priory as a refuge during what can be a difficult time for some, please email or phone me so that we can arrange something. I will primarily be using that time for retreat purposes.
For the last month or so I have been running meetings on Friday afternoons. They are from 2 – 4pm. They are proving fairly popular so I wanted to advertise them again so that you are aware of them happening. If you wish and are able, you can stay through to include the evening session aswell. They are designed to help those who can’t come at other times to be able to attend. Over the years peoples lives have changed, one example being retirement. This meant it was a good time to reappraise what the priory is offering as we go forward.
It is my sad duty to tell you of the death of David Jarvis. David was a long time attendee of the priory. He came on Wednesday nights and also was a regular presence at the outside retreats. I hadn’t seen him since the spring because every summer he would head off on this narrow boat along the canals. I was made aware that he was in the Sue Ryder Hospice near Prospect park. I made two visits with Jan who kindly gave me a lift each time. He quickly got worse by the time of the second visit which was a day before he died on Friday morning. His family said he died in his sleep. We will be holding a memorial for David at 2pm on Friday 8th December here at the priory. David seemed a very private and quiet man but his contributions and depth of experience always added to the occassion.
A prompt about the New Year Retreat this year. From the 29th until the 1st the priory will be running the regular New Year Retreat which includes the Ceremony on New Years eve. If you would like to come to all or some of it please let me know. I appreciate it is more difficult for some of you to partake in a residential type retreat which includes staying over, but for those of you wishing to do that then it is still possible.The New Years eve ceremony consists of the usual fanning of the Scripture of Great Wisdom, the chanting of the Sambo Kojin and the drinking of juice. If you wish to bring in the New Year and reflect upon the past year amongst the sangha then this is an excellent opportunity. If you are new to this practice and wish to come but don’t quite know what it is about then don’t hestiate to contact me.
I thought I would write a little bit about the trip to the States I made in September. The three week visit was to attend the OBC Rules conclave meeting at Shasta Abbey. A group of five monks, four from Throssel and myself flew from Heathrow to Portland, Oregon on a direct ten and a half hour flight. Three then went to Eugene priory and myself and Rev. Master Berwyn stayed at Portland priory for a few days with Rev. Leon the prior. Rev. Master Koten and Rev. Master Aurelian from Canada joined us aswell as Rev. Master Hugh for the long drive down to Shasta, picking up Rev. Wilfrid, Rev. Jishin and Rev. Elinore on the way.
We all arrived at Shasta in good shape and soon settled, in preparation for the conclave. It was good to meet up with old friends aswell as be greeted by monks I had not met before. I didn’t realise how much Mount Shasta dominated the landscape. It is much closer than I had thought and seems to tower over the Abbey. The atmosphere is extremely dry and because the Abbey is at four thousand feet it has it’s effect on the body. I was quite woozy for some of the time and couldn’t do as much physically as I had hoped.
The conclave is now held every six years and alternates between the UK and The States.This is when we as an Order ratify the rules that have been privisionally been in place between conclaves. We needed to look at thirty rules, many of which were fairly straight forward and were just a matter of changing titles and names to bring the rules up to date. Nevertheless great care is taken over the wording so that they read properly and can be enforced (if necessary) without misunderstanding their meaning. Many of the rules were to do with priories. In the rules priories became temples and priors chief priests. This is bring all the temples, including Abbeys, in line with the rule. Nevertheless priories are still priories and priors are still priors. During the course of the conclave there was a chance for a couple of outings. I went a on a local trip on the first one but unfortunately came down with a heavy cold during the second week of the conclave and so missed out on another chance. To close the conclave we held a memorial ceremony for Rev. Master Jiyu. It was held outside at the stupa (pictured), and we chanted scriptures and circumambulated it three times. Rev. Master Haryo was celebrant as he was for morning service during the conclave. We were also joine during the conclave by three lay ministers, two from the Shasta congregation and Chris Hughes from the Telford congregation. They provided much imput to the meetings, and helped to show how we as an Order function as a totality.
The filght back was smooth and uneventful and only took a couple of hours from landing to opening the priory front door. The expected jet lag never happened and I was soon back into things. Thank you to all who helped keep the priory open during my absence, I realy appereciate it.
I was very pleased and happy to be the celebrant for the wedding of Holly Baker & Jeremy Petherbridge, who are both regular congregation members. It was an intimate and relaxed occassion in which the couple were able to show and share their commitment to living together in a way that will express outwardly a bond which have has love, compassion and wisdom at it’s core.The wedding was attended by Holly’s two daughters Imogen (left) and Freya (right) and friends Tony and Atia. Many thanks to Barney for precenting. In the top picture the couple are holding the wedding candle, which they light together, and take away with them.
Congratulations to them and wish them both a happy and contented life together.