Friday, 28 February 2014

Prayers at the Abbey

So....I'm meant to be linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary to publish a post a day.

Epic fail already! Yay!

But - this week the littles and I have two baked banana and pecan breakfast loaves AND visited Newstead Abbey, a special place a few minutes drive away.

Newstead Abbey - sigh.

It sounds like there are monks singing and stuff, and there used to be. It was also the dwelling place of Lord Byron who is buried in our Church. Now, it's owned by the local council and it's more of a beauty spot.

Picture of Newstead Abbey's gardens Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Plan of Newstead Abbey grounds.

But it still has that feeling, of prayer, of silence.

And noisy squeals when my kids are running round.

It can be empty in winter, with its vast gardens just feeling like a spiritual spot.

Nearing Spring like it was this week, there are snowdrops and crocus and the beginning of all the other flowers we get in England. And swans and mallards and coots on the lake. I can't begin to describe how it conveys the wonder of God's amazing creation. I can't do the beauty of the place justice. How wonderful it's almost on our doorstep. AND, admission has been free from November through February during the week.

Newstead Abbey West Front
View of the (ruined) Abbey from the Big Lake

I've been going quite a lot with 3rd and 4thSister. Often just 4thSister in her buggy and me powering around, taking in the beauty, the grandeur and the wonder. Sometimes we stop to go on the playpark. (YES! There's a playpark, too!) We don't visit the cafe, but yes, there's one of those, too. In high season, the Abbey itself, converted to living quarters for the Byron family, is open for visitors. We have friends who married there.

So although monks aren't really chanting plainsong, God is always there. You can walk around and, as Anne Shirley said, just FEEL a prayer. It's restorative and nurturing. Tramping around is exercise. And you always find something new.

French Garden at Newstead Abbey (wide shot) Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

This week, 3rdSister and I chose to start at the biggest waterfall, then follow it under the bridge....over the stepping the river split into two tributaries flowing around a small island...then up the hill, down the hill, under the weeping willow tree and across another bridge to the island itself. Poohsticks on the bridge on the way back. The river back together again, we followed its course to the second lake. A real adventure! We felt like partners in crime :-) 4thSister patiently observed EVERYTHING from the buggy (she's a watcher, this one.)

SO - it feels okay I'm not keeping up with a blogging marathon when life gets in the way :-)

(all pictures are from the Newstead Abbey website today, as I'm rushing...but we have HUNDREDS from years past. Maybe I'll share some in the future.)

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