Wayne Smith's occasional blog of pilgrimages and journeys

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday, July 25.

The pilgrimage to London yesterday made for a long day, divided in two halves. First, most of the bishops and spouses present participated in the Walk of Witness along a mile-long route from Westminster to Lambeth. Never having been to London before, I was surprised to see how close together these landmarks are--the Houses of Parliament, the Prime Minister's residence, Lambeth Palace, all of which are more or less strewn along the banks of the Thames. It was a remarkable experience from the marchers' side, with fifteen hundred marchers, give or take, walking the most important streets of London. I have been disappointed, however, to see the media's reaction. To cite one example, the Guardian buried the story deep inside the print edition, and led that story with another headline altogether. There at least was a good photograph. Episcopal News Service has provided the most comprehensive coverage I can fine.

Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, lies on the south bank of the Thames and historically had access from the river, although no more. It is, how shall we say, the very picture of shabby elegance. From a dais raised to one side of the open entryway to the Palace the Archbishop addressed us, as did the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, both speaking passionately and eloquently about issues of global poverty. Hellen Wangusa, the Anglican Observer at the UN, concluded the speeches with her own brief but compelling statement. To stand under the cloudless English sky among so many brothers and sisters of faith and to hear these ringing cries for a Biblical justice was one of the most moving moments of my time at this Conference. It was both humbling and thrilling to stand in such a place.

The luncheon at Lambeth and the reception at Buckingham Palace came next. I apologize to report that I don't have much to say about either of these perfectly lovely events. I could tell you menus and protocols, all of which are interesting enough. The one little detail that I will give you, from the Queen's reception, is this. Bishops from previous Lambeths have said that the chocolate cake at the Queen's tea was the best they had ever eaten, and it's all true.

When I returned to my room at 8:45 p.m., I was exhausted from a day spent either standing in the sun or else sitting on a bus.

Today a small number of Sudanese bishops and their American colleagues sat down for a private conversation over lunch, and the words we exchanged were honest but encouraging. I was able to speak some the words I have heard from you in the Diocese of Missouri, and they were graciously received. That's about all I want to write at this moment, but I do expect that there will be more to say in the near future.

2 comments:

franklin.kline said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and thoughts. You are making it a real event for us. Your first blog came to our attention on July 12 during our Quarterly Community of Hope "Monastery Without Walls", which we shared with Fr. Ralph Wright, one of the monks from the St. Louis Abbey. Your comments on the Benedictine roots of Anglicanism seemed so appropriate! I have been regularly praying this prayer for for the Conference: "Father I lift up before thee our Anglican Communion of Churches, enfold our Bishops now assembled at Lambeth in thy Holy Spirit. Grant them discernment of thy will, forbearance, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation, that we may all be one as thou and the son are one, for we all break the same bread and share the same cup through Jesus Christ our Lord." Franklin Kline, Christ Church Cathedral

Lisa Fox said...

I do hope the conversations with the bishops of Sudan are fruitful and yield some healing balm you can bring home to Missouri.

Prayers for your spirit and your body ... both of which surely find this exhausting.