Lee Abbey Church Weekend Away 27-29th October 2017

lee abbey sunshine

VISIT TO LEE ABBEY, 27th to 29th OCTOBER 2017

(Report by Claire Blackman)

 On a cloudless Friday morning some 30 Churchill and Kingham parishioners joined a large percentage of Britain’s motorists onto the M5 and inched our way south westwards; it was the end of the half-term holiday. We were making our way to Lee Abbey, which sits on the North Devon coast where Exmoor tumbles in a mix of oak forest and craggy outcrops into the sea. The rocky cliffs and the sea beyond looked benign on the still, October evening. The Abbey itself, largely a Victorian mansion, was fronted by a sward wP1010788hich, cut from the steep oak forest,  swept down to a private, rocky cove. The house had uninterrupted views of the sea – and incoming weather!

Among some 100 other guests we were warmly welcomed, served dinner in the evening by young Abbey volunteers – who came from a variety of countries – and sat down to a lively worship session with music energetically provided by a singer/songwriter guitarist accompanied on the keyboard and drums. Worship took place in a large, octagonal room looking out towards the sea. The public areas of the Abbey felt comfortable, warm and welcoming. The bedrooms were neat, clean and pleasantly appointed; the public bathrooms were spotless.

After breakfast on Saturday we settled in the Octagon for the first of two talks by Barbara Carpenter who took the Yellow Brick Road (YBR) from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ as her starting point. Illustrated with clips from the film, she showed that the YBR led each of the main characters to find their heart’s desire which, for Dorothy, was home where she belonged and was loved. The point that Barbara emphasized was that each character was unaware they already had their heart’s desire because no-one had shown them they were valued. In other words, take care how you treat and talk to people. Make sure individuals feel valued by you. We had a small group session to practice saying positive things to those in our groups.

Saturday was cloudy but dry and after lunch a guided walk was on offer and for those more active (or young) zip-wire riding. Those people wanting less active entertainment watched ‘The Wizard of Oz’ or relaxed aP1010808nd chatted – a good chance to get to know each other better. Saturday evening gave the Abbey’s volunteers a chance to show their colours – some quite literally – with national dances, songs and description of life in their own countries.

The Abbey quiet space was the Chapel, a very calm and welcoming place. Each evening, after the organized sessions, a period called Christ in Quiet was available in the Chapel for those who wished for quiet reflection before bed.

Sunday dawned cloudless and gaining an extra hour’s sleep with the change of clocks we were ready for the second talk expounding the theme of the YBR.  Communion, led by Ian Barham followed. Free time for photos was next then Sunday lunch. As the sun sank slowly westward we drove home – some along the precipitous Porlock road! The end of a successful and enjoyable weekend.





A repeated comment from the weekend was that “it provided an excellent opportunity to get to know people from church better…”