Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Wood working

I have recently spent a lot of time, practicing being a carpenter.
There is now, a very comfortable summer house in our garden.

I have been using woodworking tools for as long as I can remember; I just love the smell of wood. My grandson came in to watch me sanding a piece of wood. “Are you making sawdust Granddad?” he said. Well, I was of course; but the purpose was to put a good finish on the wood.

During this build of love, I noticed a few things – and pondered on them while I worked. How often I had used a tenon saw for example. I learned the basics at school, making a teapot stand – it was okay, but not as good as it could have been. I tend to grasp the basics, then just keep going in that same old way – not surprisingly, getting the similar results.

Somehow this building was different. I thought about the Master Carpenter, how he would hold and position the wood. The position of the body was important too, holding control of the saw. There was a new learning here that I would not find in books. It was all about the feel of the cut, that held the saw straight and true. Vanessa tells me, the same is true of knitting – keeping the right tension.

We call this learning process, modelling. By watching and listening closely to the Master Carpenter, looking at the finer detail and getting the feel of it, when we try it ourselves. Your cuts and joints will create a good finish.

We are quite familiar with our bible passages, particularly the ones approaching Easter. As we know the story well, it is tempting to fast forward to Easter Sunday.
  • ·        Watch and wait
  • ·        Go deeper
  • ·        How did the Master feel
  • ·        What can we learn

Try this process, and what you accomplish will be better.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

A Brotton Lad – Anthony Rowe

Peter F Anson and his companion Anthony (Tony) Rowe set off from St Augustine’s Datchet on the river Thames. It was Ash Wednesday, February 14th 1934, and they left with black smudges on their foreheads and determination in their hearts. The great caravan was pulled by two horses, Jack and Bill. Anthony was a farrier and he was chosen out of 200 applicants to accompany Peter and look after the horses.
Peter was commissioned by the Universe Catholic paper, to sketch churches and document the pilgrimage to Fort William. The journey took them to Ugthorpe where they stopped for five-weeks, it was necessary for them to change to a lighter caravan – the horses would not have managed the hills of the north with the original one. The villagers got to know them quite well, and my mother recalled the story of these travellers. Peter went on to write his book “The Caravan Pilgrim.”

Peter Anson wrote and sketched about churches, cathedrals and Abbeys up and down the country; he also travelled round Italy, France and Ireland. Peter was with the Benedictine brotherhood on Caldey Island, and one of the twenty monks who followed Abbot Aelred Carlyle over to Rome in 1913. He must have felt quite at home during his stay at Ugthorpe; the community had not changed in its beliefs or ways of life in many years. Staying true to the faith during the persecution, hiding priests and being married by the church in secret; and later in Whitby to fulfil the law. Peter had a great interest in these times and commented as he found them on his travels.
Peters companion was a local lad, Anthony Rowe from Brotton (just a stones’ throw from Ugthorpe). Tony was a farrier and had already spent time in the local ironstone mines and an ideal choice for his knowledge of horses and practical sense. Tony went on to write the first book “The Brown Caravan.”
On their way back from Scotland through Bowes, Yarm, Guisborough and then on to Ugthorpe, which was to be their final port. The horses sensed the home run and needed to be held back rather than urged forward. The caravan was sold, the horses too and Peter continued his wandering, writing and drawing; his stories of local folk, faith and their determination.
In 1901 Anthony’s parents were living at 2 Wood street Skinningrove with three children
Anthony was born 6th January 1909 and in the 1911 census – was living at 7 Park Terrace Brotton, with:
Ralf Welford Rowe – Father
Mary Rowe (nee Harrison) Mother, and his brothers/ sisters:
Henry Harrison 19
Mary Elizabeth Rowe13
Hilda Rowe 11
Alma Agnes Rowe 8
William Ralf Rowe 9

George Rowe 1-month

1939 register tells us that Anthony was living at St Augustine’s Datchet as a smallholder – together with:
Brothers William (Ralf) & George – both in Holy Orders and teachers.
Also his sister Mary Elizabeth as a domestic.

The order of priests at Datchet were Canons Regular of the Lateran:
These canons regular trace their origins to the reforms in the 4th century of St. Martin of Tours in France and St. Eusebius of Vercelli in Italy of the clergy. These and other bishops sought to model the accepted lifestyles of their clergy in a domestic model, based on the communal pattern followed by the first Christians, as depicted in the Acts of the Apostles. The premier example of this effort was the life and work of the great figure St. Augustine of Hippo, who himself lived as a monk before being called to take up the office of bishop for his North African city. He later wrote a small Rule to guide a community of women who wanted to live the monastic ideal. This document became the official guide for the earliest of the religious communities to emerge in the Church in later centuries, in parallel to that of the Rule of St. Benedict. From this comes the title 'regular,' meaning one following a Rule (Latin: Regula).

I believe that William moved to London, as on the website “Christ Church Priory - Eltham” there is a picture of William Rowe. http://www.christchurcheltham.org.uk/gallery/arc.html 

I would be very interested to learn more about the Rowe family - how they travelled to St Augustine's and became part of that community. Any help would be much appreciated.
John Pearson

Monday, 23 November 2015

A Long Journey Home

A novella - finally completed and available.

The story of Brother David: about his thoughts and dreams, people and places around him, existing both in the now and the past.

A Franciscan friar, David is content in his life but continually searching for something unknown – as if he were attempting to make a jigsaw without having the picture to show the finished image, and not knowing whether the piece he is picking up fits his jigsaw or someone else’s.

Set in North Yorkshire, the friary has many comings and goings, and David is very much part of this. He loves to wander, in the woods and moors – but also in his thoughts. A chance meeting and a string of curious events sparked David’s imagination and this searching journey seemed to run parallel to his own, at times more than overlapping and also challenging his beliefs.

This is a story, although some of the place names are familiar and the characters are more typical than real. We are all on a long journey home and although some of this journey must be on our own, others have often been there before us..

Amazon Link


A Yorkshire man, in love with the moors and writing his fist small novel. He has been telling stories for many a year, being brought up in this tradition – and finds a way to make them relevant to our everyday life. It seems there is much we can learn about ourselves, when we reflect on things gone by.

The writing of the book was a journey in itself, taking longer than expected, but perhaps that was the way it needed to be. As Brother David remarked; "We need an ending, to see where we are going."

Friday, 6 March 2015

Lenten reflection: Sacrifice

Galatians 1

Verse 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.
Paul was preaching after the death of Christ, about the sacrifice made for us.
Jesus stood in our place, for our wrong doings and paid the price. We remember the cost as through the Stations of the Cross and the services of Easter bring back the horrific death on the cross, of the one that came to rescue us from this evil world.
Thinking today – wouldn't it be nice if someone came along and paid off my mortgage, gave me a lump sum that would see me and my family right for the rest of our days; what if I could win the lottery? Money is not everything, if only I could have my health! And Paul tells us we are rescued.
The world is at war with fear and greed, we have enough but we will not share it, sickness and death is headline news. Can we imagine anything worse –
So what is it that Jesus Christ rescued us from, that was so evil? We have to wonder.
His love was so great for us that he willingly gave up his life that we might be free.

I am free to be at peace,
I am free to be happy and content with who I am and what I have
I am free to choose to love my neighbour
I am free to exercise compassion
I am free to forgive
I am free to serve
- It is my choice.

And this is the will of our God and father

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Creator & Creation - Christmas

Christmas and Incarnation: a timeless moment, when the creator becomes part of creation.

In our view of how things are, we see a creator (artist, sculptor) as someone who creates, stands back to view his creation with others; and said it was good.
Our understanding is routed in our timescale and knowing of how things are; it is essential to have the shepherds, sheep, wise men, Mary and Joseph. It is the angels that draw us into the mystery, although we now have them also routed in our reality; but they too are very much part of this story, as heavenly narrators.
To see the Christ child, vulnerable, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger is a convenient position for us; full of sentiment and awe, which is reserved for new birth.
Whisper though to a small child and tell them “this Christ child threw stars into space before he was born here, and he has brought about an order that can only bring joy”.

Peering out of our windows in expectation of something much better, and wondering why it never arrives. Perfection and imperfection; “you sold me a dream that has become coloured and distorted; it’s as if it fits into something that is not real and becomes distant with time”.

The moments that count and form imprints on our being, are more often overlooked at the time. To be focused on happiness, contentment, love and passion for vocation; you know when such a moment has happened, for it touches the very core of who we are and screams out “this is me – this is who I can be”. Chasing after illusion and manufactured joy is the pastime of this world and falls so short every time.

The story of the Christ child and all that happened so many years ago is best viewed from the eyes of a child; so journey back with me, to that tender age when mystery, and all we held as dear, were one and the same. Become one with the creator as he has became one with his creation; believe in the possibility of wonder, beyond our imagining and the question will be answered
 “What is my part”?

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Jesus before the Sanhedrin

Matt 26:57-67

Jesus was taken before the Sanhedrin, which was a council of men, usually 23; they sat in judgement of religious affairs.

In our reading we hear that Peter followed, to see the end.
Peter who in Matthew 16, when asked by Jesus “who do you say I am” declared “You are the Christ, the son of the living God”.

The law of Moses required two witnesses; and still they could not agree, the Sanhedrin to and froed between opinions. Questions were asked of Jesus and He remained silent. The final question “are you the Christ, son of God” a long silence, then Jesus answered “thou hast said it”.

In Peter’s eyes, he was witnessing the end, there can be no coming back from this; the High Priest tore his clothes.

When someone lets us down, hurts or moves radically away from what we imagined, and believed to be; our response tends to be isolation, rejection and anger. We turn this round and fire it back at the source of our pain, because we do not know what else to do.

Peter went on that night to strongly deny ever knowing Jesus, separating himself from a situation he could not understand; Peter wanted an end he could make sense of.

What was to unfold could not have been imagined; Jesus death and resurrection ensured there is no end – but an infinite number of beginnings for each one of us.