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Reflections from a Night Time Visit to St Albans - 12/03/2023

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Pam and I took a rare opportunity last week to have an evening out and we went to a special event at St Albans Cathedral called ‘Abbey by Night’. It was truly mesmerising with the Abbey lit only with candles and filled with incense. They had recreated a ‘time of age gone by’ when the Monks lived in the abbey. Robed people shuffled along whilst undertaking their duties which gave a deeply immersive experience of what it might have looked, sounded, and felt like at the time. Some of the Monks stopped and told us of their life in the abbey, one of whom was Brother Alfred. He told us how during this time of Holy Lent the Abbott allows them to only eat beans and turnips, which at his age plays havoc with his digestive system! Brother Alfred was also looking forward to the Monks quarterly bath, after which he would be ‘bled’ so that any illness could leave his body. For him this was good because he would be granted extra rest, excused from singing and prayers, and would even be given meat to revive his body. This humbling experience was a fantastic reminder that, whether we ourselves have given anything up (or indeed taken something up), we are in the very important season of Lent within the Christian Church that has been observed by millions of people for thousands of years. I am pleased (for your sake as much as my own) that my lent fasting is not restricting myself to only eating beans with turnips and that I am able to have a bath more than four times a year! But it is a stark reminder that even this sacrifice pales into insignificance when compared to Christ’s sacrifice and His time in the wilderness.

Rev’d Pete Farquhar

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