Chris and Sandra Haggerstone deserve a special mention in the same breath as the founders of the community. Their association with Andy, and in particular, John and Linda goes back to the very beginnings. They were pioneers of the Nethersprings, sharing in all the hardships, humiliations and uncertainty of the early formative years.
Many aspects of the Rule are a reflection of their experience of life in Northumberland in the formative years, when they had no choice but to ask the question; How then shall we live? How does a family embrace a contemplative/monastic spirituality? What will it mean for the children? What about work and a career? Does this change our marriage? Where will we live? What does availability and vulnerability actually mean?
Several of the prayers that constitute the core of a Northumbrian Office later incorporated into Celtic Daily Prayer were first prayed as a response to what they were living through, before those prayers became part of the much loved morning, mid-day,and evening prayer. A good example of that is in the mid-day office;
‘Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us
Establish now the work of our hands
Establish now the work of our hands’
This verse from Ps.90v17 was adopted by Chris and Sandra, John and Linda during a time when they were struggling to make a living gardening, and doing odd jobs. At the same time, trying to develop a daily pattern of prayer and coping with an increasing number of visitors to the Nethersprings. Diary entries at this time dismiss any romanticism, but rather, reveal a painful struggle to live and understand their vocation. It would be Chris, the master of many trades who would supervise and work on the renovation of the stable block at Hetton, often praying in his materials as he went, or turn his hand to any practical need. It would be Sandra, who for many years was the administrator of both Trust and Trading who would have to make financial decisions, in faith, working with a continual budget deficit. Sandra had learned in a hard school the need to Trust in the Lord. If the full story of their contribution is ever told then there should be a genuine sadness that they were lost to the community during the restructuring, ‘from the founders, few to the many.’ A process ironically, which Sandra, who with Chris were both with the ‘founders and the few’ worked hard to achieve.
Ms Sandra Haggerstone | Mr Chris Haggerstone