TRINITY QUARTERLY Rentrée 2019
THE WAY OF LOVE Over the spring and summer, a group of Holy Trinity parishioners followed The Way of Love course. Father Peter offers reflections on this experience. I have led many study groups, both in Lent and at other times of the year. Sometimes, it is hard to find material which is fresh and interesting. There are many books and courses on offer but they are often uneven in quality. Imagine what I felt like when I came across the advert for the The Way of Love, a course promoted by Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church: The Way of Love is a way of life. More than a program or curriculum, it is an intentional commitment to a set of practices. It's a commitment to follow Jesus: Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, Rest I was immediately curious. The
Bishop Michael Curry preaching at the National Episcopal Cathedral, Washington purpose of the course was not
to instruct but to change the way we live. Was this hyperbole? How could a nine-session course achieve this? Since I had received enthusiastic comment from Episcopal Church people that I knew, I thought the only way to find out was by following the course myself. It is based on having a small group led by a facilitator. I was slightly daunted by this, as I had little direct experience of doing this. I was encouraged by the comment in the coursebook that ‘good facilitation isn’t about knowing everything about the content, but rather having the ability to facilitate meaningful conversation’. I believed that I had had experience of that from teaching adults. The purpose of the course is to ‘live the Jesus Way’. This might sound like jargon and, certainly, it reflects a different culture from
that of the Church of England. Its principal assumption is that being Christian is not so much about signing up for a list of credal propositions as to following Jesus and the way of life that he lived and advocated. The way you do this is by having the company of others, by being in a group. This makes sense when we remember that Jesus began his ministry by calling groups of people to follow him. In the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus gathers up Simon and Andrew and then James and John. Soon he adds another, Levi and in no time he has called his twelve closest disciples. The Way of Love booklet declares that the purpose of a faith-based small group is ‘to build relationships with God and one another’, in a trusting space which allows for ‘support, accountability, and prayer’. When we started the course here at Holy Trinity Nice, I think that we, as a group, were all unsure about what to expect when we had our first meeting. We began with some silent prayer and then we introduced ourselves saying something about our religious backgrounds, how long we had belonged to the church in Nice and what we hoped for from belonging to the group. From the outset, the careful design of the course was apparent. We quickly opened up to each other. This was not just through talking about how we had been raised in religious terms but also through examining what our daily routine was like, what we found satisfying and what we found frustrating.
This led naturally to discussing the idea of a ‘rule of life’. We were reminded, though that a ‘rule of life is not just a set of rules to live by; rather, it is a gentle framework to guide and support us on our way’. Having reflected on the way we habitually spent our time, we were invited to ‘clarify our most import values, relationships, dreams, and work.’ After the introductory session, we moved on to one entitled ‘Turn’, which focussed on changing aspects of our lives. The discussion began with each of us telling a story about when we got physically lost. Looking back, I think this was a very shrewd approach. When I preach, I look for an image or story that opens the way to what I want to say; talking about getting lost paved the way to talking about losing our way in life and turning (repenting) to find a new path. The third session had us talking about our favourite passage from Scripture and imagining whom we would choose from Scripture as a meal companion. This led to a discussion about how we read and interpret Scripture. During this discussion and right through the course we surprised ourselves by the extent to which we drew on intimate and often painful episodes in our lives. We were able to do this because the paths suggested by the course gently encouraged us to do so but also because we had agreed at the outset to keep confidential what was said in the group. As we journeyed through the course, our trust in each other grew naturally and deepened. The next session moved on to ‘Prayer’ but not in an abstract way. We were encouraged to discuss when we felt close to God. We also discussed which way of prayer we found most helpful and whether we found ourselves directing prayer more to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit or God the Father. I think that each of us found it helpful to hear how diverse others’ experience was; it ‘gave us permission’ to be ourselves in prayer. The following session led quite naturally into discussing ‘Worship’. Which Sunday or season of the year did we like most? Which was
our favourite hymn? What part of the worship was most meaningful? These simple questions led to a wonderful level of disclosure about our individual spiritual lives. Having examined prayer and worship, in the sixth session we reflected on how we felt ‘blessed’. The way into this was to talk about the best gift we had ever been given. We were then able to explore the more general sense of being blessed by God and to reflect on how we might discern God’s gifts at work in our neighbourhood. The session on blessings led naturally to the next, entitled ‘Go’, which was about how we might share them. This began with a discussion about ‘your most unlikely friends’ and how the friendship had developed. We also discussed moments in our lives where we had experienced reconciliation and when we had gone beyond our ‘comfort zone’. The purpose of this was to encourage us to identify situations where we could make a difference and to venture into them. Like the days in the first Creation story in Genesis the sequence of our sessions ended with ‘Rest’. We were asked to describe our ideal day of rest, when we last paused to rest, and what was our favourite way to play when we were children. This enabled us to see that activity and engagement are grounded in rest and reflection, when we may experience the presence of God. The nine-session course concluded with our taking stock of the journey we had undertaken individually and as a group. We asked ourselves what had surprised us most, what we regarded as the greatest blessing we had received, and what were our hopes for the future. We had different individual experiences but all of us felt changed by our experience of The Way of Love. We had learnt so much from each other. We had experienced the blessing of trust in each other. We had become more reflective about our lives and more committed to sharing the blessing we had received with those around us. We were so energised by the experience that we resolved to continue meeting once a month.
I’m planning to offer The Way of Love again this winter. I encourage you to consider taking part. MEET THE PARISIONER A brief, but perhaps not brief enough, history of Jody Dyer. (His description, not the editor’s!) I was born in Carbondale, the Pennsylvania coal county where my mother’s family took up residence after emigrating from Cornwall, England. My parents both served in WW II. My mother was a nurse. My dad was a “ground pounder” otherwise known as infantry. I’m fond of saying they met during the war. War ended. They just kept fighting. They are both interred at Arlington National Cemetery, America’s resting place for its heroes. As a military “brat”, moving was part of the package. Panama. Washington, D.C. Georgia. Kansas. Virginia and finally Mannheim, Germany. It was there on May 3, 1964. at the age of 16, I was in a car accident that left me a paraplegic. I don’t personally know anybody who has been in a chair that long. Things have changed dramatically for the better… ramps, curb cuts, handicapped parking, accessible public transit, lightweight chairs, building standards, ADA, Paralympics, and societal acceptance. Life expectancy has improved steadily. When I joined this involuntary fraternity, none of this was even on the horizon. There were Jody Dyer as Teenager no role models or “how to” guides or internet references. The result was making up a lot of things as I went along and a couple of them even earned patents. I tell people who care that para/quads solve more problems before 9 in the morning than ordinary folks do all day. I designed my first set of hand controls for my 1964 Rambler. After fighting my way up flights of stairs to confront the dean who said my disability would prevent me from attending, I was accepted to a college (Georgia
Tech) where I was the first student to graduate in a chair. There were no accessible bathrooms, no elevators in buildings with required labs on the 3rd floor, no shortcuts to get to classes up the "hill" or across campus in the 10 minutes allotted. After flailing in search of something that truly interested me, I stumbled onto computers back in the day when they were rare and the size of small buildings. The attraction was it was the first thing I encountered that you could actually do as well sitting down as someone standing upâ€Ś maybe even better. I went to work for the colossus of computer companies (IBM). It was too big. I worked for a small software company before anyone really knew what that was. Shortly, I figured out that I could do this myself and once again there wasnâ€™t anyone around who said I couldnâ€™t. I was the first person in a chair to attend a well-known eastern business school (Harvard Business School also without accessible facilities) and started a company from my dorm room. I look back at this time of my life and I am frankly amazed at the audacity, pace, stamina and the positive results. I traveled a million miles on planes and trains and in inhospitable hotels. I was on the road 3-4 days a week, sometimes 3 cities a day. Along the way, I ran a public company. I have had all of the career and financial success I could have hoped for. I have been fortunate beyond description to be the master of my time. I have lived abroad. I have been blessed with exceptionally good health. My parents lived long and my siblings are alive and well. After a couple Jody, Ella and Ditto Dyer of false starts, I met Ella and married the most amazing person I have ever known. Too late in life, I discovered the pure joy of having a pet and the unanticipated grief that comes from losing them. Like all of my contemporaries, thoughts of mortality loom. But I can say this with conviction. If I had the opportunity to go back and undo
that life altering event, it is an easy call. I would leave it, and every second that followed, unchanged. It is hard for me to imagine how I could be any more fortunate than I am. I write this for no other reason than to mark that odd anniversary and reflect on what has been one helluva ride... literally. THE ROAD TO THE RIVIERA The Right Reverend Stephen Platten, the last diocesan Bishop of Wakefield, writes of his long history with Holy Trinity Nice and St Hugh Vence. We look forward to Bishop Stephen and Rosslie being with us again in the spring. Back in the 1980s, I was a Canon of the Cathedral in Portsmouth and the Diocesan Director of Ordinands: in any other set-up I’d have been labelled as ‘recruitment and training.’ As a diocese, we had a healthy supply of ordinands and every now and again there was the need to offer a year’s placement in a new and different context to broaden someone’s experience. I remember sending one candidate to work for a year at the Bird’s Eye pea factory in Lincolnshire and then another went off to be a hospital porter in South Africa! One of my regular supplies for ‘placement’, however, was Holy Trinity, Nice. Father John Livingstone, who was then Chaplain in Nice and Archdeacon of the Riviera (what a great title!) had his own family trust through which he would employ theological students as ‘pastoral assistants’ for a year. They would reside in the basement of the presbytery. I think it was 1986 and I had such a student who had just completed his BA and needed a year out. All was set fair and he arrived in Nice, but some three or four months on, true love intervened. . . the said student found a partner and dropped out, both as pastoral assistant and as an ordinand. John Livingstone had a very developed sense of irony as any who knew him will remember! So, soon after the ‘drop out’ happened, I received a letter from him. It began something like this: ‘Dear Stephen, Having trusted you to provide me with a suitable pastoral assistant, he then went off to behave disgracefully by ‘falling
in love’ and disappearing from view. This suggests to me a failure of such profundity, indeed even a sin, on your part. How could you think of recommending such an unsuitable person? How could you risk letting down a fellow priest? If nothing else, this means that penance should be made. I can offer you such an opportunity: would you be so kind as to lead Holy Week and Easter for us here next year? Of course, we would cover your expenses and you could have accommodation, here in the presbytery.’ Well, how could I decline such a request, both on grounds of my spiritual health and for my own positive nourishment? So began my links with Holy Trinity in Holy Week 1987. It was, of course, a great experience and I still have the gift given to me for my toils – a great book about ‘De L’Hôtel-Palais en Riviera’. Of course, bearing in mind the gravity of my crime, John was clear that this was insufficient: I had not bought a sufficiently costly indulgence! So, perhaps a couple of years later, I was wheeled out as the conductor of the annual retreat at Notre Dame de Laghet. Once again it was a marvellous opportunity and this time I returned home as the proud owner of a sorbetière. Even this, however, had not finally repaid my penitential debt, I was told. So, now in the early 1990s – and by this time I was working at Lambeth Palace, as Robert Runcie’s Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs – John required me to bring Rosslie, my wife, and our two sons, Aidan and Gregory (then perhaps 13 and 15) to cover John’s threeweek holiday – all expenses paid. We travelled a fair bit during that holiday, we hired a car and so travelled along the coast into Italy and also across to Provence and even the Bishop Stephen and Rosslie Camargue.
Nice offered all those things for which it is duly famed. There were sports cars and mini-mokes, packed with ‘the young’, soaking up the sun on the Côte d’Azur. It was the time of France’s experiment with the ‘Minitel’, a sort of cross between a computer and telephone – all very moderne. We took full opportunity to visit the Picasso exhibition at Antibes, Marc Chagall’s work at Cimiez, Jean Cocteau’s chapel at Villefranches and Henri Matisse’s murals in the Rosary Chapel at Vence. But we also got to know the Holy Trinity and Vence communities. Roger Boot entertained us to lunch with a dish including supplies of aioli that could not be bettered. We went out to Tom and Finella’s when their children were still around. This gave birth to a love for Nice and the Côte d’Azur that has never abated. So. . . what a surprise awaited us, when we went to Christ Church, Southgate where I was to ordain Hazel Miall to the priesthood. This was a doubly happy event anyway; Hazel had struggled to be ordained priest in an Episcopal area opposed largely to the ordination of women, and to cap it all, Philip, her husband had been at the same school as me. Alongside this, we met Father Peter Jackson, and Joe, who were in their last weeks in North London, preparing to come to Holy Trinity, Nice. As the conversation proceeded, so Peter found out about our links. ‘Why not come again?’ I could not come that year, but have now been back three times including leading the Laghet retreat once again, albeit a quarter of a century later. We are both completely in love with Nice as a city and all that goes with it. We have explored our old haunts and found new ones. We have enjoyed the trips to Vence and were sad that this year’s visit was ruled out by the President of China meeting President Macron at the most famous of all the Hôtels-Palais en Riviera, the Negresco! Most of all, we love Holy Trinity, the presbytery and the Holy Trinity community. We feel part of the family – close cousins! We hope our links will continue and prosper and offer us the opportunity too to be with Peter and Joe who are such good friends!
A LONG WINDING PATH TO ORDINATION Our curate, The Revd Roxana Tenea Teleman, writes about her calling to ordination. Why would a Romanian Christian baptised in the Orthodox Church, with a degree in Mathematics, consider ordination in the Anglican Church? I was born and grew up in communist Romania, at a time when churches were not places to be seen. My family was quite divided on matters concerning Church, or rather on what the role of a priest should be. On my father’s side, there was the tranquil, patient and unquestioning confidence and respect Orthodox Christians have for the clergy. On my mother’s side, there was the memory of a long line of Greek-Catholic priests in the family, who had served through the troubled time of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The last of them, my great-grandfather, had reputedly chosen to ignore that his serious heart condition could be fatal and would regularly climb the hills to visit prisoners who were not his parishioners; this led to his untimely death. After WWII, most of my family’s GreekCatholic clerical friends had been sentenced to forced labour for refusing to join the Orthodox Church and make allegiance to the communist government. These events had thus set the standard of conduct my maternal family expected of a priest. After the fall of the communist regime, my husband and I decided the time had come for us to Roxana on her first Sunday at Holy Trinity explore Christian traditions toto other than the Orthodox and the Greek-Catholic ones. At that time, the Anglican church in Bucharest had a very international, multi-
cultural and multidenominational congregation that was rapidly increasing in number, as many Englishspeaking people were arriving in Romania to offer their skills and enthusiasm for the reconstruction of the country. We were warmly welcomed and it didn’t take long before we came to think of this being ‘our’ church. The Anglican tradition of openness and dialogue meant we were not required to turn our backs on the Orthodox and Romanian Cathedral in Bucharest Catholic traditions, but encouraged to value them even more. We were delighted to experience ecumenism lived in trusting personal relationships, in a sincere wish to know more about other Christian traditions, in the deep realisation that in Christ we were already one. For me, this was a time of awakening as a Christian. My personal history within the Anglican Church then continued in Switzerland and France, where my husband’s career as a professor of Mathematics took us. A few years after settling down in Marseille, I was invited to help with the RE classes at the school my children had attended, and, after training, I took on the role of youth minister and pastoral assistant to the head of the school. Spending time with children and their families, accompanying some of them towards baptism and first communion, sharing their faith journey, as well as that of teachers, administration and maintenance staff, or just their daily life, proved to be a very rewarding experience and made me grow as a Christian. Was this not a fulfilling career? Why aspire to ordination? But can one think of ordained ministry as being a career choice? Some people can. In a society where we are judged using criteria of successfulness, professionalism, efficiency, leadership skills, where
personal fulfilment in every area seems to be the supreme goal, and positive thinking is highly recommended, I was not surprised to see the priestly office described as a ‘continually attractive vocation, […] a dynamic, compelling and satisfying vocational job (Magdalen Smith, Steel Angels). In their essence, these words are true. Nevertheless, the ordained ministry, more often than not, will bring one to feel vulnerable, unsettled, wounded, bewildered. Anyway, ‘One does not presume to take this office, but takes it only when called by God.’ (Hebrews 5.4) In his essay De l’Amour, Stendhal identifies two ways of falling in love: experiencing a ‘coup de foudre’ or a ‘crystallisation’ – like crystals growing on a twig left in the Salzburg salt mines, until completely transforming it. Likewise, there are people who have had a sudden realisation of a crucial call that has unexpectedly come to seize them. For my part, I cannot identify one moment when the sense of being called to offer myself for ordination sprouted in me. All that I know is that it has been incessantly growing, until, some years ago, I felt a sense of urgency to give it voice. What has encouraged it to grow, what has nourished it? Surely my personal history with God, my journeying with Him. Also the inspiring presence of some people in my life – the selflessness and enquiring mind of my mother, the faith of my father-in-law bringing him to oppose the communist regime, the enthusiasm and warmth of our caring chaplain in Zurich, the radiant personality, the tolerance, openness and broad knowledge of my children’s godfather (the first Anglican priest I had ever met, in Romania), to name but a few. I actually believe that every single moment of my life, every single encounter has mattered. Even if I was not always fully aware of this, God has been present in all the events of my personal history, as He is in the history of mankind. He helped me to become myself more deeply and more fully. This sense of being called had nothing to do with the need of securing a career or a status for myself, nor was it a bout of feminism. And, of course, it has brought about the question ‘am I
worthy?’. Is it possible that God needs me for the ‘job’? But this is not a job – it’s a way of being fully human, of being with God, with oneself, with other people. This was a call addressed to my whole person, to all that I have ever been, or am, or could be, a learner, a teacher, a researcher, a music lover, a daughter, a spouse, a mother, a friend, an ex-pat, to all my life experiences, whether they build me up or wear me out. It was only with the whole of my person that I could respond, and it was liberating to know that segments of my being, that seem disparate, are held together in God’s hand and make sense in His vision for me. It is with humility and confidence in the One who calls and whom I know to be faithful that I’m waiting to be guided, strengthened and sustained, and brought to serve Him and His people as He wants me to do it.
SEE YOU SOON! Hailey Jacobsen, our seminarian on placement this summer, writes about her experience with Holy Trinity and St Hugh’s. She was a great addition to the community; we wish her a speedy return! Thank you for allowing me to be your seminarian this summer! I am certain that my life and my ministry are forever changed for the better from what I have learned from you and the communities of St. Hugh’s and Holy Trinity. It was even more special to have a feeling of returning home since my husband Devin and I were here two years ago when he served on placement during the summer of 2017. Fr. Peter and Joe have been excellent mentors, and I am so grateful for the wisdom that they shared with Devin and me. What a gift for me as someone who is on the cusp of beginning priestly ministry to be able to work with, learn from, and work with a priest who has been in ministry for almost forty years!
Devin and I are doubly-blessed by your generosity. Two summers ago while Devin was a seminarian, I learned a bit of what it means to be a clergy spouse. As you know, Joe does a lot – with joy and humility (from supporting everyone to making the weekly service bulletins – not an easy task)! With what we’ve learned here, Devin and I will be able to move forward in our separate callings with more empathy and understanding than we would have had otherwise. Many people in the US worry about decreasing attendance and membership across the Church what some call “the decline of the Church,” and look to Europe (a step or two ahead of us in these religious transitions) for Hailey preaching at Holy Trinity what our future may hold in the coming decades. Having spent two summers now with Holy Trinity and St. Hugh’s, I have a deep confidence and excitement about the future of the Church. Overall, our numbers may be smaller in the coming years as our world changes, but I am certain that the Church (whatever its numbers are), will be increasingly Spirit-filled, authentic, and empowered – a light for all who seek God or a deeper knowledge of God. Some in the US think that churches of different denominations will come together locally to share worship and ministries. With Nice’s unique identity as an international hub, Holy Trinity is already an example of people of diverse denominations and backgrounds coming together in one place. I am grateful to have participated in new ministries like Friday evening a-prayer-atif. Such relaxed opportunities for fellowship outside of the church grounds are important for newcomers who may be unsure about church, and they remind all of us that our church is not a building, a set of rules or beliefs, or even someone
fulfilling a specific role at coffee hour or in the liturgy. Our church/ Church is us! As St. Teresa of Avila wrote: Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours. We must remember this as our Church changes. Thank you for the good example of ways to embody this! One of the things that I love about our Church is its universality held alongside all of our differences of belief and expression. At St. Hugh’s and Holy Trinity, people come from the neighborhood and all over the world, sometimes for decades and other times just for one visit. I know that for me, as someone trying to navigate a new language and a new culture – especially during our first summer here, praying with familiar liturgies and saying such known and loved words as “Almighty God, to you all hearts are open…” was a welcome harbor. I know that Holy Trinity and St. Hugh’s provide a welcome home to many each week! I hope to take these lessons of hospitality with me. As I return to school at Virginia Theological Seminary this autumn for two more years of training and as I get nearer to the proposed dates for ordination as a deacon and a priest myself, I am keenly aware of the privilege of following this call that fifty years ago I could not even have dreamed of following because I am a woman. Thank you for your warm excitement as you taught me this summer about God and about ministering together. I am also excited for St. Hugh’s and Holy Trinity as Roxana begins her (historic!) diaconal and priestly ministry here. What an exciting time to be the Church and to be here right now. So many new and wonderful things that God is doing through and with you! I will carry all that you have taught me with thanks and hope that we meet again soon. à bientôt! Hailey
A PERFECT MEMORIAL On 3 September 1979, a corporate plane crashed into the sea short of the Nice airport. The plane was never recovered. The widow and family of one of those who died, Terence Flitcroft, returned on the 40th anniversary. We were gathered on the anniversary of an event that irrevocably changed our lives, and those of the other families affected. A plane crashed into the sea approaching Nice airport on September 3rd 1979. There were no survivors, all far from home. In our case, the loss of a father and a husband, Terry Flitcroft. The circumstances of his death and the crash denied us a means to properly mark his passing and his life with a funeral, leaving us to try and accustom ourselves to a new reality in some way; things unsaid, feelings unresolved. The catalyst for our gathering together as a family in Nice was a recent visit by Harry, one of his grandsons, to the church and to the remembrance plaque that had been kindly put in place many years ago, to mark the event and passing of all those who lost their lives. While a respectful and appropriate thing to do, a few of us had reservations about how we would all feel about it, for the grandchildren who never knew him, and for our mother and ourselves, the opening of old wounds not properly healed (in part probably, why we Members of the Flitcroft family following the Requiem hadnâ€™t done this on the 40th anniversary of the plane crash before). Those doubts were unfounded, we all found it a moving and powerful experience. A true remembrance of a life, not only in its passing as a sense of conclusion, a door properly closed, but also as an affirmation of
The front page of the Daily Telegraph the day after the accident. We have enlarged the article to make it easier to read. It is interesting to note that Lord Mountbatten's funeral was reported the same day.
life, being able to share and connect across the generations and reflect not only on his life but his legacy. A huge part of this feeling, was a result of the warmth, generosity and humanity of Father Peter and other members of the church, through the service for all those lost, the informal sharing of our thoughts and reflections at the memorial and drinks afterwards, in a beautiful, tranquil setting, not far from where my father lies. During the service Father Peter reflected on sudden loss, and his experiences of how very differently people react to it. It is necessarily a deeply personal response. Our personal connections to those lost all being different. In an attempt to make sense of things and cope, nor to lose the immediacy of those feelings or connections we tend to try and preserve them in our own mental attics, gathering dust, rarely aired, and difficult to share. What struck me at the time, and since, is the power of the collective expression of remembrance, to heal through sharing. In particular, to be able to pass on a sense of the man to his grandchildren, as well as to be able to say a proper farewell together. While it may have taken a long time, in some ways it has felt the right time as our children are now young adults starting out on their lives and now have a sense of the grandfather they never knew. So, although far from where we all live, it felt like a family home coming. Forty years on we all found ourselves in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, for all the right reasons. We may not all gather again in such numbers, but we will return.
Vide Grenier Autumn 2019
Quarterly Magazine of Holy Trinity Nice