22 April 2017
My post-Easter break in Lichfield was both a retreat and a time for relaxation. It has been a busy Lent, Holy Week and Easter, and I returned to two days of clearing out my study in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, clearing out my files, cleaning up my laptop, and packing books to move to the Rectory in Askeaton, Co Limerick.
I stayed for a few days at the Hedgehog Vintage Inn on the northern edges of Lichfield, at the corner of Stafford Road and Cross-in-Hand Lane.
Throughout the week, there was time to meet up with family members, to have meals in some of my favourite restaurants, coffee in some of my favourite cafés, walks in the countryside between Lichfield and Farewell, by Stowe Pool and Minster Pool or Beacon Park, time to stroll along Beacon Street into the Cathedral each day for Evensong each day, and time to pray in the chapel in Saint John’s Hospital.
It was time to be fed spiritually too after a busy season that has included 13 services over eight days in six churches. But this was also a time to relax and recharge my batteries in Lichfield this week.
I got to walk around the Roman ruins at Wall once again and to visit the church on the hill, and to visit tiny and secluded Weeford, the home of the Wyatt family, an outstanding family whose members were innovative architects for many generations in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
I also browsed in some of the bookshops, including the Cathedral Shop at No 9 in the Close. In the bookshop in the Samuel Johnson Birthplace, I picked up a second-copy of The Story of Penkridge by Robert Charles Wilkes. This now rare book, published by Penkridge Parish Council in 1985, may persuade me to extend my research into role of the Archbishops of Dublin as Deans of Penkridge.
In another shop, I picked up a second-hand copy of the Parish Registers of Weeford. Once again I am prompted to write about the Wyatts of Weeford in my diocesan magazine columns.
The walks through Lichfield and in the countryside were good for my health, with a daily average of almost 10 km. Throughout the countryside of south-east Staffordshire, the fields were a bright mixture of green and the golden-yellow of rapeseed.
As I left, a short news report I had written was published in the Lichfield Mercury, which I first wrote for over 40 years ago in the early 1970s. I never got to the Moat House in Tamworth or to Comberford, and I never got to meet up with oh so many important and valued friends. But it was a short visit and it was good to be back once again in the place that I have regarded with affection as my spiritual home for the past 46 years.
Perhaps we all shape our own history. The response to Psalm 136 at Evening Prayer in the Lady Chapel in Lichfield Cathedral on Tuesday, in this Easter Week, prayed:
Remember us, O God, and shape our history,
form our inward eyes
to see the shadow of the life-giving cross
in the turbulence of our time;
for his sake who died for all,
Christ our Lord.