Life at the Lambeth Conference, day 3
This was probably the easiest day of the conference for many people. The bishops were on retreat all day. The spouses had programs in the morning, but then they had the afternoon off. Everyone had the evening off. After today, things really pick up. Another photographer arrived, which means there will be four of us. That’s a Good Thing, because on this “easiest day” I worked well over 14 hours. It’s all good though.
I popped into Canterbury Cathedral for part of the retreat to get a few photos. It was amazing to be in the space, closed to tourists, with such a focus on holiness. During a break, I wandered through the building, able to enjoy its majesty without the usual hordes of people. Bishops were walking around staring at the vaulted ceiling, in awe of this ancient and hallowed building. The shrine of St. Thomas is breathtaking. So much history, and so much faith, in this place.
The bishops ended their day with evensong. Wow. Again, the singing was beyond glorious. As they were preparing for evensong, they sang (in heavenly harmony) Tuma Mina. You can watch Bishop Stephen Lane’s reflection on the day here, including his thoughts on the singing.
I had a chance to speak with several bishops today. I’ll write about my conversation with the Archbishop of York in a separate posting. Suffice it to say that this whole experience is making me grateful to be a part of the Anglican Communion. I’ve spoken with bishops from around the world, asking them about life in their dioceses. The witness is powerful. So far I’ve encountered no polemics, of any kind. Only generosity, love, and hope. (For those of you keeping score, I think today’s countries included Canada, Australia, Brazil, India, Madagascar, England, and the US.)
What else can I tell you? The food is quite good. I’ve been eating in the “staff” room, where there is always a choice of four entrees for every meal. The staff come from all over the world. Some of the staff are actually full-time employees of either Lambeth Palace or the Anglican Communion Office. Most of us seem to be full-time only for this week, volunteering to help the Conference in our own ways. There’s a deep sense of camaraderie and collegiality, with no sense that the “regulars” treat us “volunteers” as minions. I’ll be interested to see how things hold up over the coming days.
The campus is large — it takes 10 minutes to walk from my dorm to where I am supposed to eat. That’s maybe a third of the length of the campus. I say “supposed” to eat because there’s a bishops’ dining room in my building. I walk past it to get to the staff dining room. I think maybe tomorrow, in the name of journalistic investigation, I’ll attempt to eat in the bishops’ room to see if their food is better. I noticed that they have trays, which I think means they have to carry their food to their tables. In the staff room, someone brings us our food. I’ll give you all the details. By the way, sometime next week when I’ve about had it, I’ll brave the stewards’ dining room. These are the young adult volunteers, and I expect their meal will be the liveliest one around.
OK, more to come. If you are curious about anything here, please do let me know in the comments or by email. I’ll gladly answer whatever questions I can.