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
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 Canadas 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 Harrys 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.
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:
- at St. Thomas Toronto, September 19, I reflect on worship and change, and continue that reflection October 3 at Holy Trinity, Hawkesbury.
- I seem to feel at home in two very different styles of worship. I reflect on this particularly on November 7.
- There were noisy children in church on two occasions: at the cathedral in Oxford and at All Saints Cuddesdon, causing me to record some thoughts, particularly after the second of these occasions.
- Absolutely the most important worship for me on the sabbatical occurred at Magdalen College chapel. My own vocation was refreshed and profoundly renewed at a Saturday evensong, October 30. A performance November 2 of Faurés Requiem in the midst of an actual Eucharist was deeply satisfying. On Guy Fawkes day, November 5, worship at Magdalen was accomplished in the midst of an extraordinary racket: fireworks. Then there is an amusing scene on November 6 when I try to change out of damp clothing while waiting in the corridors of Magdalen College. I pedal through the pouring rain to get to the last service I could attend in that chapel on November 7. I should add that the entire diary entry for November 7 is important.
- I preached twice on the sabbatical: once in Vernon, B.C. and once at St. Thomas Toronto.
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.
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