In the words of the song, On Ilkla Mooar baht ‘at
I’ve been for a day of reflection at Myddleton Grange which is set in the glorious countryside of Ilkley. And, battered by the tail of Hurricain Katya it was certainly windy. But then I did need to blow some cobwebs away.
There is nothing like stepping outside your every day environment for helping you to take a look at yourself and gain a slightly different perspective.
For me its been a long time coming – I last went on a ‘retreat’, also at Ilkley but a different venue, when I was a 5th former at school back in the 70’s. So I grabbed the chance when it came and set off with a small band of 17 others mostly from Sacred Heart & St Patricks parish, Sowerby Bridge.
The drive through the Yorkshire countryside was picturesque and we arrived at 10am to be greeted by our guide for the days journey Fr Simon Lodge.
None of us had any idea of the agenda for the day but Simon is known for being challenging and dare I say it a little controversial or provocative.
We shared his insights into the recent riots in major UK cities and speculated about the causes of such violent displays of hatred and greed.
No easy answers there but the seed was sown about change being in the hands of ordinary people rather than politicians having any of the answers.
We had plenty of time for quiet reflection and attended Mass and Benediction together which was incredibly uplifting.
The chapel is so beautiful – afraid my photos really don’t do it justice, especially the mosaics of hardy Northern saints and martyrs.
The skull of Blessed Christopher Wharton, English Martyr who was hung drawn and quartered for his faith in 1600 is housed in the chapel, a little macabre I thought but it is in the great tradition of Holy relics and historically so many holy relics were fakes that to be so close to a genuine one was unusual and surprisingly peaceful.
One of the group exercises saw us selecting a band of would be disciples from a list of short character references with no names attached to them. Believe it or not we rejected Jesus, St Peter and Mother Therea and included Hitler and Myra Hindley in our motley crew. But then Jesus disciples were a motley crew too, just ordinary guys called to witness and follow.
We spoke too about the need to put Christ at the heart of our lives and not to be afraid to speak out about it.
Sunday was the 9.11 anniversary and I have seen many transatlantic friends change their facebook pictures to US flags and much talk of remembrance and solidarity. Truth told we are all victims of that day. So I think its also a good day too to reflect on hatred and forgiveness. But, and this is where it gets contraversial, how many of us could forgive our enemy in a 9.11 bomber? We should never forget all the people who died and their friends and family who mourn them but what good hatred and revenge and war as a consequence?
I haven’t even begun to finalise my thoughts on these issues but there is too much hatred in the world and all it does is fester and make things worse.
The issue of forgiveness is a very moot point in my life for reasons which I can’t go into here. The one thing I do know is that forgiveness blesses and benefits the forgiver as much as it does the forgiven. It allows space for healing instead of hatred and frees the forgiver to move on instead of being consumed with destructive emotion.
We stopped off on the way back for a meal at The Fox in Menston. We’d pre-ordered and turned up at the promised time expecting good Yorkshire food after a hard days reflection and spirituality.
We were really hungry and looking forward to a great meal in good company. Well, we got the good company in bucketloads but afraid the food was another matter
The roast meal arrived on a platter which was advertised as beef, turkey, pork, sausages, bacon, pork crackling & stuffing but sadly no turkey and no pork crackling was forthcoming.
I suppose those who braved the roast, and I use the word advisedly, would have been ok with the absent turkey and crackling if they just could have :
a) at least had their veg and gravy BEFORE they finished the meat
b) manage to cut the meat!
plus the aforementioned beef actually had to be sent back to the kitchen to stop it bleeding!
My fishcakes arrived with sour creme sauce instead of tartar sauce, not a good combination particularly as the cakes were predominitely mashed potato with no discernable fish……….
One of our party had french onion soup which arrived cold and only thinly disguised as vegetable soup. Her husbands steak was so tough as to be more suited to boot leather.
The vegatables were notable for their sparseness – 2 small dishes, 1 of cauliflower cheese and 1 of mixed veg on our table of 10.
If our requests to rectify all or any of the above issues were handled with a smile or anything except resignation that possible would have been the end of it but afraid, for us to witness all the staff laughing and gossiping about our requests as we left, was unforgivable, hence my decision to share our nasty experience in this blog.
We paid good money with an expectation of being well fed. We turned up when we said we would and we ate what we had preordered so we had every expectation that the food would live up to its promise. We were sadly disappointed and will not be returning to make the same mistake a second time.
To the staff and management of the Fox I would say you really need to get your act together – people have a plethorah of choice and while you extracted nearly £300 from our large group for a poor quality meal, lousy & slow service and a couldn’t care less attitude, I am guessing that you would rather have had 18 of us talking about how much we enjoyed it and planning another visit rather than bemoaning how lousy the whole experience was. Afraid it will be the last money that you get from me for sure.
We wished we had gone to Harry Ramsdens instead – there is always next time I suppose!
Crummy meal aside, the though provoking bit of the day wasn’t finished for me yet.
When I got home I was flicking through facebook posts and came across one from a friend in the US which really jumped out at me. It perfectly mirrored what Simon had been saying and was so apt for the day on which the world looked to the USA as it commemorated 10 years since the horrors of 9.11.
It goes like this and I leave you with this thought as I sign off…..
A little girl wanted to know what the United States looked like. Her dad tore a map of the USA from a magazine and then cut it in into small pieces. He told her to go to her room and see if she can put it together. After some minutes she returned and handed him the map correctly fitted and taped together. The dad was suprised and asked how she had finished so quickly. She said ‘on the other side was a picture of Jesus, and when I put him back, then our country just came together.’
How true of our broken society here in the UK as well as the USA
Ps our puppy loved the stringy tough leftover meat from the Fox, but then that puppy will eat anything, including dessicated cat poo!