Monday, 2 September 2013

Rublev's icon

As the sun had not yet risen the lane was quite dark in places. Jean Pierre's map showed that I should come acroos a lake on the left. As I reached it the sun showed its face-blood red! A few minutes later its rays flecked the high clouds. I prayed Psalm 8 with a great sense of wonder and gratitude. I realised that the graciousness and generosity of Gisele and Jean Pierre had inspired me.
Montcuq is dominated by the tower of a medieval castle and the impressive church of St Hilaire-sadly closed! As I left the village I thanked God for people like those with whom I had enjoyed their company for the previous evening. The Rublev icon of the Trinity has already featured twice on the journey-first on the door of the tabernacle in the church at Limonge and then in the hostel in Cahors. I remebered that-as a result of the generosity of my dear friends Simon and Liz Durkin- I had been able to stand before the original last October. The inspiration for Rublev's masterpiece is the meeting under the oak at Mamre recorded in the Book of Genesis. The theme of that encounter is hospitality. When we welcome a guest we do not really know who we are welcoming. The Genesis story reminds that it could even be God. The  exposition at Le Puy  said that hospitality is a feature of the Chemin. How true that is!
This was further illustrated by two incidents today (One of which caused me some inadvertent suffering!) As I emerged from the woods I came across an old man sitting on a stool smoking a cigarette and selling Greengages at 1 euro per kilo! Without reflecting on the fact that this is quite a lot to carry, I bought a bag! As I headed off he jumped up with amazing alcrity and warned me that I was going the wrong way! Ce pas le chemin he said, and pointed me in the right direction. Later on the track wound around a number of fields. After a while I came to a farmyard where two dogs were sleeping. At the corner of the farmyard there was a small table with plastic cups and a mug of coffee. Another example of hospitality.
Later in the morning another thought came across my mind. I reflected that this would be the day of my final salary from St Edwards. I cast my mind over these nine years. I remembered sitting with Margaret Mc Swiggan at Shaftesbury when she offered me the job as Chaplain. She asked me how long I would do it for and I said ten years. That's fine she said as, in ten years, I will be thinking of retiring. Sadly she did not live to see those ten years. I reflected on my anger at the shameless way in which the  then Chair of Governors Joan Dallyn shamelessly cast Margaret aside. I also hold Sr Jane Livesey (now General of the CJ congregation) as guilty by her failure to protect Margaret or help her when she left Shaftesbury. And yet- the six years at St Edwards have been times of great graces and amazing friendships.
The impressive hilltop town of Lauzerte appeared on the horizon. The steepness of the climb to it in the heat of the day was quite a trial.
Beyond the town I came upon the beautiful Chapel of St Senin du Bosc. By now I was wandering  through a veritable cornocupia of fruit cultivation-Melons, Tomatoes, Plums, Peaches, Apples, Grapes and Pears.
I arrived at the Gite Le Pigeonnier before 4pm and the owner sat down to have a glass of juice with me saying that I had the place to myself. As she didn't do food she said that she could arranged for a pizza to be delivered. As I tried to pray the Psalms she reappeared and chatted away for nearly half an hour. Later she returned with a bowl of Plums and Greengages!
Around 7.30pm she appeared with the Pizza, a carafe of wine, explained the arrangements for breakfast and, warmly took her leave of me.

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