Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Walsingham

On a few days away (from home and kids) before the new job starts, we went to stay in Hunstanton, and I went down to Walsingham for a few hours.
Being someone who likes my peace 'n' quiet, I found it disconcerting that the cleaner seemed to have made it her personal mission to follow me around the shrine wherever I went, armed with a hoover.  So I went up to the Orthodox chapel - up the stairs, past a rather anomalous statue of what I guess must be Charles I.  Normally I get up there and enjoy the quiet, because it's off the tourists' beaten track, and I love the icons.  I've only attended Orthodox worship once (in a church in Dorset populated entirely by disaffected Anglicans - but that's another story) but, like the Archdruid, I do like icons. I like the Orthodox concept that they are effectively focuses - or gateways, I guess - means of grace to come close to God.  So, in my terms, I guess I'd see them as sacramental.  Still, my peace was shattered fairly quickly by the chainsaw that someone seemed to be wielding in the grounds.
The ceremony of "sprinkling" is an oddly named concept, and slightly odd to a prod sensibility, but it is very symbolic, with strong echoes of baptism of course.  You go down the steps to where the spring is, then receive the spring water to drink, on your forehead, and in your hands.  Then you climb back up again.  It's given me some ideas for what a baptistry should be like, if I ever get to build one.  But it's always the most moving part of a visit, for me.
Then back to the coast, and another brilliant view of the Wash.  By this morning, the weather had cleared enough that you could see the wind turbines out to sea - and last night had a view of the lights of Skeggy.  A lovely part of the world.

3 comments:

margaret said...

Having by now been to more Orthodox liturgies than low masses I still want to see one served in that tiny chapel. I remember telling my friend it was built for prisoners of war held at Hempton and he said, "How many were there? Three?" and I think that's as much congregation as you could have and still have space for the Great Entrance.

G said...

I think three would be right. It's a small space. But when there's no gardening power-tools going on, it's very restful. But I guess most Orthodox worship in Walsingham would go on at the church?

Sally said...

a lovely part of the world indeed, will be heading that way in July, still very dtrange not living there, but who knows Methodism might move me back that way again one day :-).

Glad you got some time away, even if it was not as peaceful as it might have been.