Doors Open In Nicosia

What a contrast! Two more days of quiet alone in Katafiyio, the two bed-roomed 'period cottage' the Diocese rents for people to use for personal retreats. Then a two hours detoured drive to a villa with private guest wing, swimming pool and maid in Nicosia!! Oh well, the apostle Paul says 'I have learned to be content... in need and plenty' (Philippians 4:11,12. My hosts are Nigel (a Brit) and his wife Jeanne (a Cypriot),who host Bible study groups.

I broke the journey to preach a Mothering Sunday sermon at Ayia Napa. Half the congregation were young mothers - Filipinos; half were old ex pats who could, I suggested, learn insights of spiritual mothering. Numbers were much reduced. This was, I found out later, because it was Carnival Sunday before Orthodox Lent begins, and many joined this. This underlines the importance of local culture awareness and of the international talks on a common date for Easter. The Spanish priest Gabriel and his wife took me to lunch at the Ocen Basket. Gabriel is a scholar, a musician and a wise overseer, and was interested in movements such as my own Community of Aidan and Hilda which 'weave the strands together'.

On Monday we had a tour of Old Nicosia. A ninety two year old cobber, still mending shoes, gave us each an orange from his garden. The travesty of the city cut in two by the barrier between Turkish occupied territory and the rest of the country was brought home to us.

Jeremy, the Dean of what they say is the world's second smallest Anglican Cathedral, invited me to join eighteen friends and helpers for a delicious evening meal in his home. They aim to make the cathedral a friendly, out-going and diverse community. I presided and preached at their morning Eucharist.

On Tuesday I met with the Bishop, Michael Lewis. I valued the chance to learn more about Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue, the soul of Cyprus, and evolving concerns in the Anglican Communion's leadership. I think we shared a belief that heart connections between people exploring deeper levels of monastic and other spiritualities are fundamental to our common future. We talked about opportunities for reconciliation. I told about Muslim Dialogue at our Birmingham UK community house. and possibilities for Muslim-Christian studies were raised.

Margaret drove me to the Chrysospiliotis Convent of Panagia Deftera where saints Paul, Mark and Barnabus made their first convert in Cyprus, Herakleidos. He became Cyprus's first bishop, was martyred and buried in the cave there where he had lived as a hermit. A sister kindly opened this up for us.

I spoke two nights running to the group that meets at Jeanne and Nigel's house - a cross-section of highly motivated and able Christians - a slide presentation on our work and the second evening on the meaning of the Celtic Cross. I returned to Katafiyio for a quiet day on the seeing eye, spiritual intelligence and soul-friendship. followed by a session of spiritual direction. The week in Nicosia will finish with me speaking on St. Hilda to the Women of Worth meeting. Then I shall cross the Green Line, passport in the hand. Hopefully I will blog from The Other Side.

Posted at 10:54am on 6th March 2016
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