Well, some of the serenity of the convent at Wantage is still with me (tho’ it’s only 4 days on from my retreat …) and the plainchant, accompanied sometimes with a zither, is still echoing in my head as I say the Offices. I could actually tune into them streamed live daily online from Wantage, where I used to go as a a research student in much more primitive days. I tried this tonight, and got quite wistful. The slow pace and restraint were an oasis from which I drank deeply, and the courtesy and kindness of the community was like a balm.
Rather different from the Holiday Club in full flood at Holy Trinity. Actually, I love that too and prance about in a way that might surprise many of my colleagues. We have almost all boys at the club, but the dressing up clothes are roughly equal ‘male’ and ‘female’. So when we got to the team game where you had to put on as many garments as you could in the time, what happened when the bloke-ish stuff ran out and there were only pink feathered tiaras, red spangled boob tubes or a net skirt to grab? It all depended on your age. The older team wanted to win, full stop, and wore anything they could get on quickly. The younger ones felt the embarrassment much more strongly and point-blank refused the girly stuff. Interesting and surprising.
But what has really amazed me is the incredible good manners and courtesy of the kids – to us leaders and to each other. They are just a delight to be amongst, big ones kind to the little ones, all putting their best into the songs and crafts and good-naturedly blethering with the grown-ups. A different sort of ‘courtesy’ from the convent, but just as precious and genuine.