Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
Joy in Christ, a way of life

Canterbury retreat

July 17, 2008: When the bishops went on a day-long retreat to Canterbury Cathedral.

I worshiped and had breakfast sitting with Bishop Steve and Gretchen Lane this morning! How wonderful to meet friends and colleagues who share common hopes. It is an amazing thing to be at Canterbury Cathedral with about six hundred bishops from around the world and sing a cappella. It is even more amazing to be with these bishops from around the world and realize that they and their partners represent people and parts of the globe that I may never see in my lifetime. Getting to this place was exhausting, but a jaunt across the Atlantic pales in its tedium when compared to those who traveled twenty hours or more to get here. Getting online turned out to be quite an ordeal, too, especially since I had to get the right electrical adapter to charge the computer and program it to get this blog going.  Sorry for the delay...

My favorite part of being here so far is the singing and the praying during worship in the blue big top. The Lord\'s prayer said in a zillion languages is an awesome experience, clearly reminding me that our tongues do praise and proclaim God in diverse ways. My next favorite thing is waiting in line, or as they refer to it here, standing in a queue. It is a great time to transform strangers to friends. I ran into Katharine, our Presiding Bishop today while taking in the Cathedral at Canterbury, and she was gracious as always and so unassuming! She asked me how it was going and I blurted out that it felt like I was meeting my extended family; distant cousins. I have met with bishops from Papua New Guinea, the Sudan, the UK, Tanzania, Australia, New Zealand, and India--initially, most bishops from India think I am the bishop of Rajasthan, especially when I say 'Raa-chester!' It is ominous to me to notice that only nineteen women bishops are in this house, most of them from the Episcopal Church. Gene is not here, and that hurts so much. We are an imperfect communion just like most of our imperfect families. We have much work to do to heal the many wounds within and without.

Archbishop Rowan made a profound observation this afternoon when he reflected on our theme: God\'s mission and a bishop\'s discipleship. He was unpacking Paul\'s vulnerability in 2 Corinthians 11: 28, 29: 'And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for the churches. Who is weak and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I am not indignant?' He pointed out that a bishop in this tradition of discipleship is similarly called to feel the weakness and the stumbling of those in the body. 'To be faithful (as a disciple) is to be invaded by the failure of others...,' he said. Profound words about vulnerability especially spoken from within the fortress walls of Canterbury Cathedral. I remain moved by this profound reminder to our calling as followers of Christ in general, and mine in particular.

More tomorrow...



VIII Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Rochester