Sunday, 11 September 2011

The beautiful chapel chez les Diaconnesses de Reuilly - starlight, perfect sound and Geborgenheit

I am about to move to Paris and take up a new job with the Federation of French Protestant Churches, more about that soon! I shall move in just over two weeks, tomorrow I get to see the appartment I shall be moving into for the first time -though it is likely to still be a bit of a building site! From Thursday to Saturday I met with my new colleagues from the Federation on retreat at the Versailles mother house of the Diaconesses de Reuilly. I stayed on for two extra nights. So I have had four days of being able to go to prayers with the sisters here in their extraordinary new chapel. It is like an architectural meditation on the word "matriciel". It gives a wonderful sense of shelter of being known yet also of worlds and universes beyond our own as the light coming through resembles starlight. I'll write more about it over coming days.
It has been restful and restorative to attend worship and not have to do anything other than be there and try to pray, or give in to tears, or try to be silent. I was also moved that the Protestant sisters here take their ecumenical commitment so seriously and joyously - the major focus in the chapel at the moment is "time for creation" prayers are regularly said for ecumenical and church leaders.
Singing the Beatitudes at midday each day has been particularly moving for me for all sorts of reasons. It has been an emotional week, I had my leaving party from my job at the WCC on Wednesday, having preached a final time on Monday in the chapel ... yes I am sad and I am of course also terrified about the task ahead, but as in all times of transition I have to trust that things will "become", somehow.
First task after seeing the flat on Monday will be to order a bed. I think I should be able to cope with the rest if I'm able to sleep! Knowing that the sisters here will also be praying for me as they did and do for my predecessor also adds a further dimension to being supported. Knowing that this beautiful place is just an hour away by metro also gives me the idea that there is somewhere I can run away to and it wouldn't even be running away ...