Life at the Lambeth Conference, day 4

Today was the final day of the bishops’ retreat. I listened in on the final address of Archbishop Rowan Williams. It was brilliant, and I hope they are all published soon. The whole Communion would benefit from his sage words. Every bishop that I have spoken with has had some level of transformation in the retreat experience.

On to more mundane matters. I reported on the food yesterday. Today I sampled the fare in one of the bishops’ dining rooms. I hope there are no bishops here reading my blog, because I’m glad to report that the staff dining room surpasses the bishops’ dining room in almost every way. For one thing, people bring us our food over in the staff room. No cumbersome trays, etc. The staff room is smaller, and a bit quieter. The one big advantage of the bishops’ dining room is the view. There’s a stunning view of the Cathedral through massive floor-to-ceiling windows. But if I want that, I’ll go outside. So it looks like I’ll be sticking with the staff room as much as possible. (Though I still want to try out the stewards’ room.)

People here were very relaxed today. Most participants had the afternoon and the evening off. There was only the ecumenical service at 5:00 p.m., which offered a nice bit of pageantry and color. Our ecumenical guests were officially welcomed, and they had on all manner of ecclesiastical garb. I enjoyed the thurifer (who was a nun, incidentally) making the Big Top smell like a church ought to smell. When I mentioned to someone standing near me, “Ah, this smells like a church,” he replied, “Not MY church.” Well, there it is. Anglican diversity. He and I are still in Communion, as far as I know, though we differ on proper olfactory customs. For what it’s worth, mine is biblical.

This evening after dinner I went into town where a number of communications team members and media types had gathered in a pub. It was quintessentially English. I don’t drink, so I was in it for the social experience. Met people from all over the place doing all sorts of jobs. Now I’m off to bed soon. Tomorrow is the big opening service at the Cathedral. Should be a phototacular day.

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