A Semester in America

A couple of weeks ago I reflected on a book by Henri Nouwen, “Sabbatical Journey“. A constant theme throughout the diary is the importance of friendship. Every entry names friends he has spent time with, and his gratefulness to God for the gift of these friends. For Nouwen it is “overwhelmingly clear that human happiness has little to do with money,muscles, or popularity but everything to do with friendship, love, and a purpose in life” (Saturday 25th November). Never a truer word was spoken. Central to my happiness at VTS, Nashotah House and, overall, America are the friendships I have made. I have been in America for only four months, not long at all really. I have come to know some people well, and others I have only had chance to greet in passing. No matter how long I have spent with them, there are people I have met out here that I know have rooted themselves in my heart. I am grateful to God for each and every person I have met on my travels and pray that we produce many fruits from our friendships.

As rapidly approach the end of my semester at VTS, I thought you may all enjoy a snapshot of my time here. Enjoy xxx

[youtube https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5-Nb6y5Eo6A]

Renwick Gallery


Yesterday My friend Matt and I visited the Renwick Gallery in Washington DC. A Smithsonian gallery dedicated to contemporary art holding a collection of contemporary craft and decorative art, described as one of the finest and most extensive collections of its kind.

Currently, nine leading contemporary artist have each taken over different rooms in the building, to create site-specific installations inspired by the Renwick. Together, these artists have turned the building itself into a larger-than-life work of art. The exhibition is entitled Wonder, and I went in (for the same reasons as visiting the Rothko paintings, my friend James suggested I should go, so I thought I would give it a try. (See earlier blog))

The Renwick website describes the exhibition: “While the nine artists featured in WONDER create strikingly different works, they are connected by their interest in creating large-scale installations from unexpected materials. Index cards, marbles, strips of wood—all objects so commonplace and ordinary we often overlook them—are assembled, massed, and juxtaposed to utterly transform spaces and engage us in the most surprising ways. The works are expressions of process, labor, and materials that are grounded in our everyday world, but that combine to produce awe-inspiring results.” (http://renwick.americanart.si.edu/wonder)
Follow the link to explore the website and see some more pictures of the art:

imageGabriel dawe, plexus A1 2015

imageJanet echelman, 1.8, 2015
Echelman’s woven sculpture corresponds to a map of the energy released across the Pacific Ocean during the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, one of the most devastating natural disasters in recorded history. The event was so powerful it shifted the Earth on its axis and shortened the day, March 11, 2011, by 1.8 millionths of a second, lending this work its title. Waves taller than the 100-foot length of this gallery ravaged the east coast of Japan, reminding us that what is wonderful can equally be dangerous.


The picture above is the digital visual representation of the Tsunami and earthquake. I did not think my picture of the art would encapsulate it fully (it is a very large piece) so I took a video of it to try to better give you an idea:

[youtube https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WGrWfIHh4Y4]


imageJohn grade, middle fork, 2015

imageChakaia Booker, anonymous Donor, 2015. Rubber tyres and stainless steel.

imageJennifer Angus, in the midnight garden, 2015.
Angus’ genius is the embrace of what is wholly natural, if unexpected. Yes, the insects are real, and no, she has not altered them except to position their wings and legs. The species in this gallery are not endangered, but in fact are quite abundant, primarily in Malaysia, Thailand and Papua New Guinea, a corner of the world where nature seems to play with greater freedom. The pink wash is derived from the cochineal insect living on cacti in Mexicl, where it has long been prized as the best source of the colour red. By altering the context in which we encounter such species, Angus startles us into recognition of what has always been part of our world. image
The website explains: “Jennifer Angus covers gallery walls in spiraling, geometric designs reminiscent of wallpaper or textiles—but made using specimens of different species of shimmering, brightly-colored insects.”

Unobtrusively on the walls, as well as the descriptions of the artwork, were various quotes from a range of historical people. The first we came across was a quote from Albert Einstein: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” I am still exploring faith/theology/bible and art, and immediately these short few sentences screamed out God. ‘The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious [God]. It [God] is the source of all. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead [not fully alive] his eyes are closed.

The quotes fit perfectly with the art which stood before us, and as we went around, each quote and piece of art only furthered our reflections and discussions on theology and Wonder, especially as St Augustine and St Albertus Magnus are included among those chosen. Below are a few more of the quotes;

The only reason for bringing together works of art in a public place is that…they produce in us a kind of exalted happiness. For a moment there is a clearing in the jungle: we pass on refreshed, with our capacity for life increased and with some memory of the sky” – Kenneth Clark, 1954 (British born author, museum director, broadcaster, and regarded as one of the best-known art historians of his generation) this quote struck me as it could very easily be discussing liturgy and worship ‘[one] reason for bringing together [people to worship] in a public place is that…they produce in us a kind of exalted happiness…’ Worship brings us clarity, a chance to slow down and have some peace in the jungle that is our world today.

Man is surprised to find that things near are not less beautiful and wondrous than things remote” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1837 (an American poet and lecturer who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was also seen as a champion of individualism.)

Wonder is defined as a constriction and suspension of the heart caused by amazement at the sensible appearance of something so portentous, great, and unusual, that the heart suffers a systole” – St Albertus Magnus, 13th century (regarded as one of the greatest German philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages)

The mere knowledge that such a work could be created makes me twice the person I was” – Goethe, 1787 (a German writer and statesman) This definitely makes me think of Creation ‘The mere knowledge that such a work [us and creation]  could be created [by God] makes me twice the person I was.’

Men go forth to marvel at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, the broad flow of the rivers, the vastness of the ocean, the orbits of the star, and they neglect to marvel at themselves” – Saint Augustine, about 400 CE

It is not understanding that destroys wonder, it is familiarity” – John Stuart Mill, 1865 (an English philosopher, political economist, feminist, and civil servant, regarded as one of the most influential English-speaking philosophers of the 19th cen.)
This quote has gotten me rather excited. Some would argue that this is true for liturgy, that through familiarity, we end up just going through the motions. I disagree, as I believe that through familiarity, we are able to get past the ‘trying to get it right’, and once familiar, can ‘switch off’ our consciousness and begin to deeper reflect on what it is we are doing. Not just look on the surface as to Why we pray, stand, sit, kneel, receive communion, share the peace and all the elements of our regular worship. But rather be fully immersed in all these elements and the worship as a whole. Be fully present with God. I am looking forward to more exploration of this quote and feel it will feed me for a long while yet. I would dearly love to give this quote to some professors (out here and in England) and follow it with ‘discuss’. Now that would be an exciting discussion.

It was a fantastic afternoon, and very thought provoking. Thank you Matt for once again joining me on an adventure.

Interfaith Advent Service



During My Thanksgiving break, my friend Dina who invited me to stay with her for the holiday showed me the following email invitation:

Advent Interfaith Service: Dec. 13 at 5:00
Join us Sunday, Dec. 13 at 5:00 p.m. for an Advent Interfaith Service. We will be joined by the members of the Ezher Bloom Mosque. Imam Mehmet Ayaz will open the service with a call to prayer. The service, which will combine Christian and Muslim prayers, will be followed by dinner and discussion. The main course will be provided by St. Anne’s. You are asked to provide rice and vegetables or a dessert. Please keep in mind Muslim eating restrictions and do not include pork products in your dish.
Without hesitation I told her that I would be there. From the picture above (I took a picture of one of the wall displays at St Anne’s, it is clear that this is no new venture for this Episcopal Church. Interfaith dialogue is clearly high in their priorities and mission of the church.

So last night I went along to an Interfaith Advent Service at St Anne’s, Reston, Virginia.
Before arriving, I was a little unsure, as often with these sorts of events the interfaith elament can sometimes be the attendance of one or two people from another faith. It was great to walk into the large church and see many guests from Ezhar Bloom Mossque, sitting in amongst the regular members of St Anne’s joining together in a truly thoughtful evening of worship.


After the welcome from the vicar, the Imam from Ezhar Bloom Mosque led the Call to Prayer, which was followed by some opening scriptural sentences and we, as one family, said in call and response Psalm 62 (women odd verses, men even verses). After the Psalm, on the service bulletin was the Lessons. The first lesson was from the Qur’an. Imam Mehmet Ayaz, Associate Imam of Ezhar Bloom Mosque stood up and spoke, it was an excellent lesson to us all, and an inspiring, love and hope filled counter to all the hate that is being thrust in our faces each day via the world news and social media. I recorded his talk and Imam Mehmet Ayaz has very kindly given me permission to share it on my blog for you all to hear.

[youtube https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QeB6UheDteQ]
After the Imam spoke we heard the Gospel of Luke 6:27-38: “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

Both lessons fit perfectly, exemplifying loving our neighbours! by not judging or condemning others, but by forgiving and being generous. In all the struggles we are facing in the world today, I don’t believe more violence is the way forward. Surely living the Gospel, not judging, condemning, persecuting others, but rather loving, forgiving others and giving ourselves is the way towards reconciliation. The service last night, in my mind, certainly lived the Gospel, it provided a safe environment for Muslims and Christians to come together, show love, share worship, to praise and pray to God, to share a meal and show that no matter what hatred is publicised in our world, that we can all live together in peace.


The Lessons were followed by a talk given by a young woman visiting from the Mosque, a professor, who talked about Mary in the Qur’an. A thoroughly interesting and informative talk. This was followed by the choir beautifully singing the Magnificat and we all joining together for prayers. After the conclusion of the service we all moved to the church hall to share a pot luck (bring and share) meal. There was more than enough food with almost twenty kinds of rice. All the food was delicious and St Anne’s had the most wonderful problem of running out of room, but very quickly more tables and chairs were made available and everyone was able to sit with good food and great company. All in all, it was a very successful evening, and I am so pleased I had the opportunity to go along, experience and learn how to host such a successful interfaith service. Thank you all at St Anne’s.


Lessons and Carols, Nashotah House

On Thursday evening, I joined the Nashotah House choir for Lessons and Carols. The Professor of Church Music, Fr Alexander Pryor, invited me to join choir on Monday, which led me to attending all the rehearsals for this service. What an experience! And being so fully involved, I felt part of the Nashotah House family, even though my visit was a short one of only one week. Thank you Fr Pryor and the choir for allowing me to join you. Follow the link below to hear music and choir from the Lessons and Carols:

As I looked out of the window…

imageBeing on an aeroplane is nothing new for me. I’ve done short ‘hops’ as well as long haul flights, so after going through security (very quickly as it was 0530, resulting in no queueing). I did the usual preparations as I got to my seat (this flight I had a whole row to myself as there were only about 30 passengers on the flight), I got my book and iPod out, put my bag up in the overhead locker and settled down for the hour and a half flight. During the take off I put my nose into my book and read ‘Sabbatical Journey: The Diary of his Final Year’, by Henri Nouwen.

On Wednesday 6th September, overlooking Lake Ontario, Nouwen wrote, “My eyes are continually drawn to the mysterious line where water and sky touch each other […] It is like an abstract painting in which everything is reduced to one line, but a line that connects heaven and earth, soul and body, life and death. Just focusing on that line is meditating. It quiets my heart and mind and brings me a sense of belonging that transcends the limitations of my daily existence.

Sat on that aeroplane as dawn was breaking looking out of the little window I saw over the vast expanse of empty sky, the line where the clouds (below us) met the sky. The sky was a vivid blue and the clouds were white with varying dusky pink colours dancing across them. Having just read Nouwen’s diary entry, I gazed at the line. My heart and mind too calmed. Growing up we are taught that heaven is in the sky, ‘up there’, above us. My thoughts on seeing the line were firstly, is this where heaven and earth meet? Secondly, Nouwen is right, it is just like an abstract painting, a modern piece of art. It reminded me of my viewing of the Rothko paintings and all that has erupted in me since coming face to face with his art. The line I saw out of the window from a distance looks clean, clearly dividing, clearly marking where one section ends and the other starts. As I looked more I realised that the line is blurred, has soft edges, with colours overlapping, blending, bleeding into one another, just as I saw in the Rothko painting. Is this where heaven and earth meet? In the calm and beauty of this view, staring, I feel that the overlap of heaven and earth, (colours), is not seen just in this line. I witness and experience heaven and earth overlapping all around me, daily, not only in my immediate encounters but in the news and on social media. Heaven overlaps our world when we do even the simplest acts of kindness; a smile, holding a door, a hug, making another laugh or offering a cup of tea. Only the other day I witnessed a friend at Nashotah House being “rack’d” (do not panic, it’s not the medieval torture device). On her car windscreen was a candy cane with a note stuck to it explaining:

“You’ve been rack’d.
We are counting down the 25 days of Christmas performing random acts of kindness each day. May God’s blessings this season light your way!”

imageWhat a fantastic way to bring Christ into our world. A very simple, inexpensive, easily enacted kindness that brings joy to another, just as Jesus taught; “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). On my visit to America I have been on the receiving end of so much kindness; from being shown around the seminary and the local sights, answering endless questions, being taught new skills (and the patience shown me as I learn), to a simple yet needed smile and a hug when I am missing home. Only yesterday morning as I sat quietly in chapel before Morning Prayer, a quiet voice behind me said ‘morning Trudy’. The person did not need to speak to me, they could have simply sat down silently, but they didn’t, that person chose to greet me, and it made me feel so welcome and loved in this, their seminary, their home. I am truly grateful and thank God daily for the kindness that I have been shown.

Nouwen touches on simple kindnesses in his diary, whilst also highlighting that we should not only be a living Christ (through kindness and love) for others, but also for ourselves; “Every day should be well lived. What a simple truth! Still, it is worth my attention. Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentments? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions! I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and in the life to come” (Monday 4th December). Even in his later years, after nearly thirty years as an Ordained Priest (Roman Catholic), after all the experiences he has had, after all the books he has written, even as he is proclaimed as one of the greatest spiritual writers of his age, Nouwen returns to the simplicity of Christ’s message, and it is heartening that a man such a Nouwen continues to write, reflect and be struck by what he terms Christ’s ‘radically simple’teachings. On Monday 26th February, he reflects on the day’s readings, the ‘thou shalt not’s’ of Leviticus 19:11-17 and the feeding and clothing of Jesus in Matthew 25:35-40. He writes; “I keep marvelling at the radicalisation as well as the simplicity of Jesus’ message. He breaks right through all the questions about what to do in order not to offend God and places the poor in front of us, saying, ‘This is me … love me.’ how radical and how simple!” Yet we do seem to find this extremely difficult. Yes it is easy to be kind to a friend, it easy to smile at people we love. But when it is someone outside our immediate circle of friends, when they are the ‘other’, when they are different, we seem to struggle. Why is it so difficult to love another, to love someone who does not have food or clothes, is imprisoned or persecuted. Why do we find it so difficult to try to help those in need. The Gospels proclaim a simple message, yet we find it so (almost too) difficult to do.

It is true, I can not say that everything I see around me is as beautiful as a piece of art, but I believe the beauty that I do see is God. God’s self, love and hope. Our world has the potential to be as beautiful as that view out of the aeroplane window for everyone. We all have the chance to add beauty to another’s life by loving one another as Jesus taught us, and it needn’t be complicated or intimidating. We can show our love through simple acts of kindness, by letting God’s love bleed into our lives, like the colours of a Rothko painting bleeding into one another. Discussing the artists Hopper and Van Gough, Nouwen comments; “It is amazing to see […] how close the connections are between the artistic work and the life and personality of the artist. […] The soul of the artist cannot remain hidden.” (Wednesday 11th October) Upon reading this in light of all my reflections on art, faith, theology and liturgy, I realise that God is the ultimate artist. ‘It is amazing to see how close the connections are between God’s creation and God’s self as revealed through Jesus Christ. God cannot remain hidden.’

A portion of a prayer written by Henri Nouwen;

“Help me to be humble in the midst of a world that is so full of ambition. Help me to be vulnerable in a world so concerned with power. Help me to be to be simple in surroundings that are so complicated. Help me to be forgiving in a society where revenge and retaliation create so much pain. Help me to be poor of spirit in a milieu that desires so many riches and aspires to so much success“. Amen

(Henri Nouwen, Wednesday 1st May from ‘Sabatical Journey: The diary of his final year’)

Fear of God

Monday morning saw me attending my first service at Nashotah House. During the Eucharist, Dr Bott, Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, gave a sermon on ‘the fear of God’. Fearing God appears often in the Bible, and when we attach the literal meaning of fear ‘an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm’ (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/fear), this idea of fear can be rather confusing in the light of the New Testament God of love. The sermon on Monday morning provided me with a different way to approach ‘fear’ in the scriptures as Dr Bott explained; “The fear of the Lord is the attitude of respect and life of obedience owed to a loving God.” The whole sermon is excellent and thought provoking, and Dr Bott has very kindly given me permission to share it on my blog, for which I am very grateful.
Dr. Travis Bott
Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew

St. Mary’s Chapel
Nashotah House Theological Seminary
Ps 27:5–11; Ecclesiasticus 2:7–11, 16–18; Luke 12:35–37, 42–44

The fear of the Lord.

That’s clearly the main theme of Ecclesiasticus ch. 2. Ben Sira, the author of the book, repeats this phrase seven times in the passage we heard read this morning. It’s always used to describe people “who fear the Lord,” and it’s always used positively as a desirable attribute. But is it really a positive condition? Should Christians really fear God? 1 John 4:8 says, “God is love.” And 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” Shouldn’t we be in the business of loving and casting out fear? Perhaps the fear of the Lord is a detrimental side effect of a primitive view of God, a religious malady that we need to leave behind. If people are afraid of God, they need psychological healing not more shame, guilt, and fear. Perhaps the fear of the Lord should be added to our ever-expanding list of phobias. Of course, we have the common ones:

Acrophobia = the fear of heights
Agoraphobia = the fear of public places
Claustrophobia = the fear of confined places

Then there are the less common ones:

Triskaidekaphobia = the fear of the number 13
Arachibutyrophobia = the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth (I’m so glad I don’t have that one!)
Walloonphobia = the fear of Walloons
(For the uninformed, Walloons are people who speak a French dialect and live in eastern Belgium.)
Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia = the fear of long words
(Let me just say that if you had that condition, the diagnosis would surely kill you.)

We can now add to the list Theophobia—that is, the fear of God. This addition to the list will allow us to diagnosis the condition in ourselves, our friends, our family, and our parishioners. With proper CPE training, we can apply pastoral counseling strategies and techniques to liberate people from this oppressive phobia.

But hold on: the fear of the Lord isn’t a phobia. It’s not an “extreme or irrational aversion to something.” It’s not even a moderate and rational aversion to something. The fear of the Lord is the attitude of respect and life of obedience owed to a loving God. In v. 11, Ben Sira argues that we should fear the Lord because “the Lord is compassionate and merciful, forgiving sins and saving in time of distress.” This is an obvious allusion to Exodus 34:6, 7—God’s revelation of his eternal character to Moses on Mount Sinai. This is who God has always been and will always be (v. 10). In v. 18, he concludes the passage with these words:

Let us fall into the hands of the Lord,
But not into the hands of mortals;
For equal to his majesty is his mercy,
And equal to his name are his works.

The God who is to be feared is the God who is both majestic and merciful; this God is a loving lord. Moreover, Ben Sira views fearing God and loving God as compatible. He uses fear and love in parallel in vv. 15 and 16:

Those who fear the Lord do not disobey his words,
And those who love him keep his ways.
Those who fear the Lord seek to please him,
And those who love him are filled with his law.

Those who fear the Lord wait for God’s mercy, trust in God’s provision, and hope for good things from God’s hand (vv. 7–9). Those who fear God also love him, and those who love God also fear him. These intertwined attitudes result in a life of obedience to God’s revealed will.

The fear of the Lord isn’t an “apocryphal” idea; Ecclesiasticus 2 isn’t just an isolated passage. It’s a window that opens onto a panorama of biblical wisdom. Proverbs and Psalms say, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov 1:7; 9:10; Ps 111:10). Job 28 says that wisdom cannot be discovered or purchased by humans through their own agency. God alone possesses wisdom and gives it to those who, like Job, fear him and turn from evil (v. 28). The epilogue to Ecclesiastes concludes: “This is the end of the matter, when all has been heard, fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone” (12:13). The fear of the Lord is not just an OT concept; it’s the beginning of the wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ warns his followers, “Don’t fear those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul [that is, humans]; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell [that is, God]” (10:28). If this sounds like motivation by fear to you, you’re right—but only half right. It’s also equally motivation by love. Our Lord continues, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So don’t be afraid; you’re of more value than many sparrows” (vv. 29–31). Fear the Lord, but don’t be afraid; God your Father loves you. The fear of the Lord is the attitude of respect and life of obedience owed to a loving God.

Ben Sira ran a seminary of sorts in Jerusalem—Ben Sira House Theological Seminary—and he addressed his teachings in the book of Ecclesiasticus especially to his students. He begins ch. 2 with this charge to theology students: “My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing” (v. 1). Isn’t that why we’re all here? We’ve come to serve the Lord. Ben Sira says, if you’re an aspirant in God’s service, if you’re a would-be disciple of the Lord, you should prepare yourself for testing. God will test you, and God’s testing will either burn you up like garbage or refine you like gold. What makes the difference? The fear of the Lord. Dr. Ben Sira prescribes the fear of the Lord. Your life and ministry may be very difficult for a very long time, but if you fear the Lord, you won’t be disappointed in the end. God is faithful. The God who is both majestic and merciful, the God who is both lordly and loving, will reward you in due time. Be patient: your reward might not arrive until the next life. In this life, you need a good, stiff dose of the fear of the Lord. It’s a prescription not a diagnosis.


An Ordination and a visit from St Nicholas

imageMy first day at Nashotah House turned out to be a day of celebration. I happen to be visiting the week that one of last years graduates is Ordained as a Priest. (I have already done a blog on a Deacon Ordination so will not go into it here). The Ordination took place after Evensong. After the service (and announcements to the community) everyone left the Church still wearing their Cassocks and Surplice, which as you can imagine confused me somewhat as I knew the Ordination was to begin within the next twenty minutes. It turns out, the Ordination was to take place in another chapel on campus (this one attached to the refectory) which is more suited to larger celebrations. As we walked to the chapel I then found out that there are a few chapels on campus including; The Chapel of St Mary the Virgin (where the students say/sing daily Eucharist and the Daily Offices), Chapel of St Peter and St Paul and St Sylvanus Chapel.

It was a beautiful service with the whole community celebrating with the newly Ordained Priest. After the service, all the children and families of the seminary community gathered, as an annual tradition took place. Every year an alumni donates funds for the purchase of gifts for all seminary community children. They gathered, sat at the feet of St Nicholas, heard the story of St Nicholas and why he is the patron saint of children (and pawnbrokers) and each child received a gift. It is a fantastic tradition, and I am so glad that on my visit here, I have been able to see a glimpse of the provisions for families and community interacting outside the worship and academic commitments.

[youtube https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vQ2x1mL4NYc]

I am going through the formation for ordination as a single person and admire all who have gone through the formation process as a family. It cannot be easy to uproot a whole family, change schools, doctors, jobs, friend and support networks. All three seminaries I have been involved with (college of the Resurrection, VTS and Nashotah House) fully include and support families which for all of us (including those without spouses or children) brings so much joy and life to times when we are buried deep in essays and exams. To see and hear children playing, laughing and having fun reminds us all that we are fully alive, even in the darkest moments of our stressful studies.

imageThe Dean (Principle) of Nashotah House came along as St Nicholas and did the small talk and present giving. It is great to see the whole community getting involved, including the faculty. A thoroughly enjoyable event.