Hetton Homecoming?


Returning to Hetton …..After ten years …..…..long time…! Before coming back to Hetton my memories were moving in my heart and head like little whirlwinds.

So many familiar faces, so many relived conversations and dance moments…..all good, all cherished times. Easter Workshop was by far the most exciting time on the calendar, couldn’t wait to just see folk, be together; laughed lots , teased lots and thought this must be a taste of heaven. The weather was not always agreeable especially on the Island, but that didn’t matter, being there did…!

In that environment when folk were just themselves came some of the most amazing times. The Sunday night concert was a truly a magic time when leaders would be sent up, the monastic way would be joked about, and the youngest to the oldest took part. It was the perfect end to a deep time of fellowship. There obviously were times of tears especially around Maundy Thursday our foot washing ritual, but these were always accompanied or followed by laughter and joy. It was those times which made the very demanding and hard early pioneering years worthwhile.

Returning to the Hall this time evoked many good memories and some sad memories.

Our beloved Labradors, and the many walks we enjoyed with them in the garden and surrounding fields. l was busy looking for the Box the little black Poustinia l used to take refuge in on a regular basis. I went to sort my anger out due to tensions in relationships…..boy the joy of being human….! Or shed tears over some unkind comment that l needed  to say sorry for or challenge……the joys of living together and being around so many folk ……crazy part being l wouldn’t change any of it……this was life in all it’s shades……true Community is a Gift of God.

When we joined folk for Midday-Office and I closed my eyes to pray, so many more memories came flooding back. I could see familiar faces, hear the welcome voices of those who had joined with us across the years to say Office. I thought of Andy and John squabbling and joking together as they edited the Office Book, every prayer a memory stone. I thought of Paul and the gang building the very Chapel we were sitting in; Chris and Fred renovating the Stable Block so we had a place to live as a family, Kevin and Joe creating and thatching the Chapel of the Incarnation.

Later, we visited the prayer garden and I remembered Shirley at work busy with her bees.  It was in this garden that Ant and Clare shared with us The Brendan Voyage. It left me gob smacked.

We had only got settled at Hetton and this was a definite call to step out again into the unknown. God’s Presence was overwhelming and when John stood up and asked folk to respond to this call to the next part of the journey I joined him…..with only a handful of others….and here we are in Turkey where our coracle brought us through some stormy seas.

Suddenly, Ellen Niven came rushing into the garden excited to see us after so long and it all felt like yesterday chatting away like in times past.

From the outside Hetton Hall looked tired and forlorn, and the gardens lacked the vibrancy of times past. This old friend needs a new chapter as much as the Community.

Inside we met Brenda… with whom we share so many precious memories which go all the way back to the pioneering years in Aycliffe, the Grange and at Hetton.

Moving into the kitchen we met Pete and Catherine , they weren’t sure how to respond to us or our visit….this is the new generation of community and I felt so sad that the events of ’98 have cast such a long shadow.

Andy worked in the background as usual doing something with his hands and jumping in with some past memory or important bit of news.

Remembered Ferg when he was the cook, either laughing or getting stressed at what was happening or not happening in the kitchen, I can relate to that completely….cooking and l have our moments.

Remember Roy appearing always dressed for the occasion and ready for the off….Freda would come through always active and responsible…with an occasional blast of laughter. Trevor we always had to seek out as he nestled himself down behind his desk with countless things to address.

Sandra. What a rock. Someone who always made carrying burdens look easy!

Memories of the Aycliffe mob appearing in group formation, bringing lots of goodies….clothes….food….. AND best of all lots of prayer!

The list goes on…..

We didn’t get chance to go into the stable block where we once lived as a family. I was glad not wanting to relive the painful memories of our last weeks at Hetton Hall. The memory l wanted to keep was that of the Stable block, empty, full of hope, anticipating new life, and Ant and Clare dancing Revelation, and praying Gods blessing on the place….another magic moment.

1 Comment

  1. Andrea Howe

    Amazing stuff, full of emotion, life and key memories for others to tap into…..keep writing..and now to the next chapter…..?

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