York Minister v. Durham Cathedral Several years ago, I had the gift of visiting my best friend before her wedding in England. We met in seminary, but have lived in different countries since (Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom). We've walked through this lovely little prayerbook for friends (https://smile.amazon.com/Prayerbook-Spiritual-Friends-Partners-Prayer/dp/0806638923/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=a+prayer+book+for+spiritual+friends+l%27engle&qid=1608589963&sr=8-2) written by Madeleine L'Engle and Luci Shaw, and accompanied each other through a lot of life (then and since.) As a gift to me before the wedding, we went on a road trip (or train trip) to visit several churches and cathedrals for Vespers, Midday, and Morning Prayers. As a result, I had an experience which has stayed with me to this day, and which shapes deeply what I long for this space to be as well. You see, we visited York Minister (also a cathedral) first. This space is storied and beautiful. The stained glass windows are take-your-breath-away level of intricate. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/York_Minster) It is humbling to stand in a space that has seen worship of some sort or another since the 640s or earlier. The sound! The acoustics of the space made my very soul vibrate. The next day we visited Durham Cathedral. Less gilded and glorious, Durham nonetheless holds the remains of St. Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham_Cathedral). Also a place of worship since the 600s, Durham is deep and mysterious in so many ways. I was stunned speechless by how God could speak through a modern stained glass window of the Transfiguration—a window I stood captured by for nearly 30 minutes. Both glorious places. Both worshipful. Both homes to communities of believers for hundreds of years. Both living churches. The difference was in how you entered each space, by decision and design of those who administered and cared for them. At York Minister, you paid at the door. Quite literally. If you were there for anything other than a church service, it was £20 or more to enter. There were brochures and a gift shop that you were forced to leave through. (And I get it, the purpose of this post is not to speak negatively against this model.) The contrast to me was so stark because we visited Durham the next day. To enter Durham, you walked through the door. That was it. No payment to enter. No glossy brochures. There wasn't even a sign touting the fact that big portions of all of the Harry Potter movies were filmed there. There was a clearly marked space for those who were part of the congregation and worshipping community there. And there was a box for donations. That's it. I share this story because our desire for this space is much closer to Durham than to York. While keep the "doors open" in the space does cost something for us, we aren't restricting access here based on your ability to pay (this is why we're not a pay-to-play platform or app). We have created special spaces, though, for those who are making this a more regular spiritual home. That includes the Cloister, and, as we develop and grow, other dedicated spaces for the monks, stewards, and friends of this place. It's why we've created an Anam Cara Rule of Life, and why we're seeking to communally build in the Abbey a place that both supports and sends out those in spiritual community and anam cara soul friendship. So, if you'd like to step in deeper, if you want to help make this your space, our space together, donations are both helpful and welcome (you can click on the button below to find out more about that.) If you can't financially contribute, but you'd like to step in deeper, you can message me or our Prior, Jeremy, and we'd be happy to journey with you. And if you're here to visit, to step in from prayers or services and step out, you are *so* welcome to do that. We'll be here for that in the Courtyard and Chapel, and you will be loved and surrounded in community whenever you're here. This is meant to be a space fo welcome and community, however you choose to participate. So, I hope as we grow and come together as a community, we all stretch toward becoming more like Durham, to welcoming all, no matter what bring them (or us) to this space. Love to you all.

Posted by Tara Owens, Abbess at 2020-12-21 23:02:52 UTC