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Reflections on Whitby Abbey

While we are all confined to our homes (and perhaps sadly to our beds in some cases) let me share with you some inspiration from Whitby Abbey, which stands imposingly and hauntingly above the town of Whitby on the Yorkshire coast.

Gail and I were there a few days ago. Wow! In brief: what you see now is the massive shell of a Benedictine abbey church constructed over a period of 200 years starting sometime after AD 1225. However, the original monastery goes way back to AD 657 – so there are many layers of history to be explored. Centuries of wear, weather and war have all left their mark.

Under Cromwell and Henry VIII the abbey, like other monasteries in the period, was suppressed in 1539. Its communal religious life, though not its inspiration, came to a brutal abrupt end.

There are lots of wonderful thoughts to share about all this. When you visit there is the sense of:

treading where so many have trodden before

imagining the worship that was offered in the church many times each day over the centuries, and sharing in it

sensing how, despite gaps and setbacks, a place of worship and pilgrimage has endured and even now provides inspiration and hope.

There is plenty more to share about Whitby Abbey. Please join me for the next chapter in the next few days. In the meanwhile please email me any thoughts or responses. Perhaps you have been there yourself? It would be great to hear your observations.


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