A Trysting Place
40 Days in Brede Abbey
It wants but a few days to Lent 2019 and time for me to attempt to send out a daily email for the coming forty days of devotion
This year I will be writing reflections of one of my most cherished books, ‘In This House of Brede’ by Rumer Godden.
It is a work of what is called ‘faction’, not all of the incidents it relates occurred within the enclosure of one convent, however I have been a member of a religious order long enough to know that everything described here has happened to a monk or a nun somewhere! There is more than a ring of truth within its pages.
We will spend time looking at the challenges we face as we each try to follow the evangelical counsels laid upon us in our baptismal promises.
We will follow the journeys and struggles of three or four nuns in particular and try to learn from them how to put ourselves last and the One Who Loves us Best first
I hope that we will be able, even though we may not have our own enclosure, to make this Lent into a time of enclosing, a ‘trysting place’ wherein we will meet our Divine Lover more closely.
If you would like to continue to receive these reflections then you need do nothing at all and I will attempt to send them as usual. They will also be available on the WordPress blogsite ’Suffolk Vicar’ and the Facebook page Rev Andrew Dotchin
If you would not like to receive them please let me know
If you know of someone else who would like them please let me know…
May you have a blessed and fruitful Lent
Andrew Dotchin – Felixstowe
As a ‘taster’ I am including part of the Preface from the book to give an idea as to why Rumer (who wrote several other books about nuns) wrote this one
From the PREFACE
`I wish,’ said Dame Felicitas Corrigan, ‘that someone would write a book about nuns as they really are, not as the author wants them to be.’ I thought of my novel Black Narcissus and blushed.
It was the birth of my eldest granddaughter, Elizabeth Rumer, that brought me to Stanbrook Abbey, my prototype for the book, ‘In This House of Brede’. It had always been my younger daughter Paula, now strong and wiry, who had been the delicate one; Jane, the elder, was the picture of health until her babies were born. There was a bad miscarriage after Mark and when another baby was on the way the doctors were unanimous that Jane was not strong enough to have it. ‘Too great a risk,’ they said but she and her husband, Antony – it was almost worse for him – were firm. ‘This is our baby. No one must interfere,’ but I could not help being deeply worried. In the months of suspense – we were living in London at the Old Hall in Highgate – coming out to take my Pekinese for a walk, I met a friend, Leonard Clark, the poet. It was on the payment outside the gates; Leonard too was going for a walk with his small son; we stopped, talked lightly until, ‘What is worrying you?’ asked Leonard – he was always sensitive to other people. When I told him he said, ‘Write to Stanbrook Abbey and ask the nuns for their prayers.’
It was the first I heard of a place that has become a lifeline for me. Dame Felicitas, like many of the other Stanbrook nuns, has every day a heavy bag of mail. Yet it was she who wrote to Jane every week in those months of anxiety, never with off-putting piousness – ‘We don’t talk pi,’ say the nuns – but simply, steadily, sustaining her. ‘Don’t worry. We have you tucked in our sleeves,’ those ample sleeves, particularly of the wide black cowls they wear in choir and the chapter house. My diary – July 19 1961 Elizabeth Rumer born early this morning. I was in London and ‘a little girl’, said the nurse on the telephone. ‘A perfect baby.’ I went to Stanbrook to say thank you.
We do not engage in works outside our monastery,
For we have chosen to live in silence and concentration
At the hidden springs, the deepest level
Where the struggle is enacted between the powers of good and evil.
Where our union with Christ bears fruit for all mankind.
We have chosen stillness more powerful than all activity.
A detachment more fulfilling than all possession,
A wisdom exceeding all knowledge
And a love beyond all.
Quotations from ‘In This House of Brede’ are copyright © Rumer Godden 1969, 1991 Page numbers are from the 1991 Pan Book edition ISBN 0 330 33521 9