Sunday, 27 May 2012
Boating and Mass at an ancient shrine
On Thursday I had an important meeting with the Principal. I said that I had to leave after half an hour, not specifying the reason but giving the impression that I had to attend to something pretty monumentally important. "Enjoy your day out in Knaresborough," she said as I exited. My cover had been blown. We were going on a Chaplaincy outing to this beautiful Yorshire town just north of Harrogate. After some rather chaotic boating on the River Nidd, we had tea overlooking the water and then gathered at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Crag. Julie, one of its custodians, gave us a fascinating talk about its history: it is believed to date from the fifteenth century but may well be much more ancient; it has connections with the Knights Templar one of whose training camps was nearby. Then I celebrated Mass on an outdoor altar; the sound of the birdsong in the silence after Communion was breathtaking. Afterwards we walked along the riverside path saying the Glorious Mysteries while teams practising for the famous Knaresborough Bed Race sped past us and joggers dodged between us, and the reflection of the handsome railway viaduct on the waters of the river beneath us was slowly elongated by the declining sun in a cloudless sky. The day, we might say, lived up to our expectations!