Three God-lit Days In Holy Week **

** This is not Cyprus’ Holy Week of course – it is the Holy Week that westerners in Cyprus keep. I find growing numbers of westerners in Cyprus urge that they adhere to the Orthodox Easter for the sake of family, school, community and church cohesion and witness...

The first day was a retreat with Chaplains and other staff (Anglican, Catholic and Church of Scotland) from the three British .Sovereign Bases. It began early with painstaking security photographs at gunpoint before the senior chaplain could escort us to the chapel. It continued at Katafiyio. In the first session we looked inwards to the stuff we need to ditch or have healed in the spirit of the Desert Fathers. In the second session we looked outwards until we let every stone and star beckon us to God. In the third session we looked forwards to the spiritual Force-fields we can utilise as did the warrior saints Oswald, Columba and Cuthbert.

On the second day leaders of an evangelical international church told us of their visions for a house of prayer and for pilgrimages in Cyprus. Peter is an anthropologist who has taken great care to learn Cypriot Christian heritage; the locals in his village have embraced him and take him on trips. The five of us then had an audience with Basilous, Orthodox Bishop of Conatantia in his palatial residence. The Bishop represents Cyprus on the World Council of Churches and is a fine scholar. He provided our friends with texts that tell the story of the routes and actions taken across Cyprus by Paul, Barnabas and Mark, and their first convert, Heraclides. We discussed the role monasteries might have in offering hospitality. He hopes to establish a new monastery. We discussed the role of the Anglican Communion. He informed us that the Cyprus Orthodox Church is auto-cephalous – that is, it is not under the jurisdiction of a patriarch. Some people think that the Anglican Church can be regarded as auto-cephalous. I explained that the Community of Aidan and Hilda has imaged Christianity as a tree with three branches – Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Reformed. It recognises that it is powerless to change what has happened, but it encourages everyone to re-connect with neglected roots. These include the traditions of the desert and early church fathers and of being discipled by an elder or soul friend. I gave him a copy of my book Soulfriendship: Celtic insights into spiritual mentoring.

Some of Martin Luther’s most memorable sayings are included in his book Table Talk. On the third day we had Table Talk in a Taverna in Sotira Village over a Meze which participants had booked in advance. The owner kindly made a separate room available at no extra cost. In response to questions from the Chair (Paul Maybury) I introduced a topic and any who wished contributed to the discussion. The topics included re-imagining Christianity as a tree with three branches and re-discovering neglected roots such as silence, service to the poor, creation spirituality, and soul friendship : fasting; creating a Way or Rule of Life, Celtic spirituality, developing churches without walls that have daily prayer and run or partner with cafes, food banks, learning courses, gyms, art centres etc. The evening was ell attended and appreciated and there is talk of this becoming a regular feature.

Posted at 04:09am on 20th March 2016
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