Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Summons

Another quiet day before the buzz of a new series of places to visit begins tomorrow.  Today was worship time at the Abbey des Bon-Secours.  I was very much looking forward to the experience even though I knew that it would all be in French and a challenge to keep up.

As we approached the Abbey the bells were ringing clear and true out over the valley.  There is nothing more beautiful than bells ringing summoning people to worship or reminding people to pray. Those Sunday Church bells bring to mind many happy memories from growing up and are very much a welcome sound still.  So with windows rolled down to better hear the bells, we pulled in to the Abbey parking lot.  People were starting to gather and make their way to the chapel.

The chapel was in quiet, the only noise breaking it was that of the people gathering.  I was pleasantly surprised at the number, the chapel filled and then chairs were brought out.  The age of those gathered was a good range of the very young (approximately 10) to the very aged.  This small community of Cistercian sisters quietly took their seats and we were ready to begin.  The service was very simple, mostly plain song and certainly familiar to those gathered which told me that this was a congregation that came together regularly for the worship.  Edmund and I had no problem following the service since the rhythm of it is so similar and  there was never a moment in the worship that we were not aware of what was supposed to happen next.  We did get a lost in the sermon that the priest gave though!  But only because we were not able to keep up with such a limited vocabulary.  Three priests were on hand for the liturgy today.

It was a great experience to simply be in the Presence without pomp and pageantry and without having to do anything or even wonder where to find things.  It was an opportunity to just be in the quiet of a community  at worship.

As we were leaving the grounds I commented to Edmund about three priests being present for the liturgy, and couldn't two of them have gone to other little country churches to hold services.  Edmund responded rather quickly, lucky for them you are not their boss and how do you know they haven't already attended to other services?  A fair couple of points!  This little treasure of a place will certainly leave a lasting impression.

We are all called to a life of faith, prayer and service in whatever form that takes.  The bells are a reminder for me that a community is coming together for prayer and worship and so they are indeed my summons to a holy place.  The bells for this pilgrim is a timeless reminder that I have been summoned to God's presence.

Will you come and follow me
if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know
and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown,
will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown
in you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind
if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind
and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare
should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer
in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see
if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free
and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean
and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean
in you and you in me?

Will you love the ‘you’ you hide
if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside
and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found
to reshape the world around
through my sight and touch and sound
in you and you in me?

Lord, your summons echoes true
when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you
and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go
where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow
in you and you in me.

The Iona Community in Scotland
John Bell and Graham Maule

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