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Sabbatical, 2004

A Topical Directory

Several themes wove in and out through the Sabbatical. For example, there were the adventures with Ol’ Harry (my ancient but still [almost] serviceable car), or the bicycle I rented in England. This page, created after I got home, highlights some of those themes, and can lead you directly to them. Thus you can follow your favourites without having to read through pages of unconnected material.
Ol’ Harry, the car
The Bicycle
The Book

Ol’ Harry, the car

It started the very first day. As the long trek to Eastern Canada began, Ol’ Harry emitted a constant rumbling noise, to the point where I became fearful a wheel might fall off. After futile and time-consuming attempts to locate the wheel problem I pressed on. Then the muffler died. I flew the last 300 kilometres into Toronto at unpublishable speeds, making an enormous racket.

A new muffler and some properly balanced tires made a great difference, but in the late-Summer heat of downtown Toronto, Ol’ Harry displayed a new side to his character: he began belching smoke. However, his highway manners were much improved, and in due course he was running flawlessly along Canada’s busiest highway (the “401”), as I proceeded into Québec.

Then, after being parked under the forest canopy for a week of rather wet weather, Ol’ Harry absolutely refused to start. I was trapped far away from groceries and repairs, and eventually had to be towed a great distance to get a new set of ignition components.

From then on Ol’ Harry’s behaviour was exemplary. He carried me and Heather back to Toronto, waited there until I returned from England and from British Columbia, and eventually carried me back to Winnipeg through winter conditions which were, at times, positively scary.
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Whenever I am not “on duty” as a parish priest, I love to go to church. During this sabbatical I attended worship in six different churches, three in Canada, and three in England.

There was St. Thomas’ church, in the heart of Toronto, near the University of Toronto campus. The little Anglican church in Hawkesbury, Ontario is the church I usually attend on my summer vacations, and they found me back among them for several Sundays in September and October. In England I lived in the village of Cuddesdon, just outside the city of Oxford, and attended services in their 800 year old parish church of All Saints. As well, on one Sunday I went to Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford. Weekdays I attended Magdalen College chapel, which turned out to be the most deeply significant part of this whole enterprise, with far-reaching consequences for my work and ministry.

Back in Canada, I went to Vernon, B.C. to preach in the parish of All Saints. Then, the last phase of the sabbatical was spent in Toronto once more, and I returned to St. Thomas’ church, preaching there on December 12.

In these various houses of God, I often found myself reflecting on the meaning of Christian worship, on the different ways in which Anglicans do liturgy, and on my own vocation as a priest and worship leader. Here are some highlights:
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The Bicycle

I guess I have a “thing” about bicycles. For example, in 2003 I had a rather foolish outing on my bicycle while camping in Manitoba, where my advancing years and being somewhat out of shape nearly did me in. Then, in England, because I was living six miles out of Oxford with minimal bus service, I rented a bicycle. Cuddesdon, the village where I lived, is set on a hill, so the one hour pedal into Oxford could be swift, and only moderately tiring. The return journey was another matter.

My adventures with the bicycle probably make the funniest reading of the sabbatical weblog. Whether the entries were about cycling in clericals, or getting lost in Oxford, or trying to travel at night, or surreptitiously changing out of overheated clothing in college corridors, or the long hill climb that always defeated me on the journey back to Cuddesdon - readers seem to find these episodes particularly hilarious.

Oct 18 First day - I rent the bike, and get lost in Oxford
Oct 21 Into Oxford, in the wind, in my clericals!
Oct 26 First attempt to return to Cuddesdon in the dark, I learn that the bicycle path may be “a bit dodgy” at night.
Oct 27 Was the cycling in England stressful? Read this entry!
Oct 29 First visit to Magdalen College, with a very brightly lit return journey by bicycle.
Oct 30 Adventures in the dark with a cardboard box.
Nov 1 On a pleasant homeward journey, I meet a badger, I think.
Nov 6 Surreptitious change of clothing from athlete to parson in a college corridor.
Nov 7 Last evening with the bicycle -- another trip in the pouring rain.
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The Book

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