Another week in L’Abri

Dog walked, floors swept, bathroom cleaned. Now I have time before preparing lunch to sit and write a few words about the week that seems to by flying past at breakneck speed.

I’m still here at L’Abri; conversing, thinking, listening and studying. Most of my study time this week has been taken up with reading and writing about mental health, and depression in particular.

It’s not been easy and I am immensely grateful to the other 30 students and helpers here that form the community for their gentle support as I relive some of the darkest times in my life in order to put them down on paper so that, hopefully, others may be helped by this.

I’ve been thinking about the phrase “Mental Health”. How we know that physical health is important; rest, exercise, eating right. How we take time off regularly to maintain our emotional health in relationships and ‘space’, how we talk in the church of spiritual health and are encouraged to pray, read the Bible, study together and sometimes attend retreats and other spiritual holidays like Spring Harvest and Soul Survivor but very rarely do we talk about maintaining our mental health. I’ve been thinking about what it might mean to be mentaly healthy; what activities would we undertake to strengthen or maintain our mental health and how might we build those activities into our regular lifestyle.

And in the midst of this thinking, reading and writing yesterday was Apple Day here at L’Abri. All the community gathered together to harvest the many apples; to peal, core, slice and then freeze them or to prepare them for apple sauce (about 100 jars worth that will last 12months) or to dice the apples and then crush them to make apple juice. I had been told that the apple juice was destined to be made into cider and so I threw myself into the dicing and crushing process wholeheartedly.

Approximately 40 crates of apples were dealt with yesterday (a crate being the delivery crate that food comes in from a supermarket internet order) and another 20 crates of eating apples then sorted and placed in the cool cellar for consumption with lunch over the next few months.

It was a great day of a community pulling together. A time of singing silly songs, telling each other more of our life stories, working alongside each other and generally working together to achieve a set task. Made even better when Claire and the boys dropped in for a brief visit and dinner. It was a privilege to share with them this place that has become a very special place for me in the short time I’ve spent here.

But now, with the memory of apple juice fingers fresh in my mind, it is back to reading, thinking and writing.


L’Abri.  A shelter in Hampshire 

It’s been one week since I pushed open the large oak door of The Manor,  Greatham to be cheerfully greeted and shown to my home for the next few weeks. 

This is the second part of my sabbatical. A chance to be in a community that encourages questions,  listening to one another, studying and working together.  ( 

I have already had several deep and thought provoking conversations around the lunch table as well as learning about the 30 or so other ‘students’ who are here at L’Abri with me. It is a full,  organized day here with either side of lunch being ordered for work around The Manor and gardens or study, reading and learning. Evenings are community times of lecture or film &  discussion or community games. 

My studies here are primarily focused on working through material for the diocese on the theme of ‘Ministry and Mental Health’ perhaps subtitled; ‘all you ever needed to know about depression but were too busy to ask!’ 

I’ve written just over 3000 words on this subject do far and I ask for your thoughts and prayers as I seek to unwrap this very personal subject further and write about it.  I’m finding it exhausting to go over the emotions and depths of depression and I am so glad to have others around me here to talk with, drink tea with and laugh with, along with friends and family praying and thinking of me at home. 

I’m hoping that, once I’ve done more writing regarding mental health I’ll be able to find time to post regarding the opening of the novel I’m hoping to work on. 

With every blessing.

Back cover to a book. 

One of the things I hope to achieve during my sabbatical is to move forward in writing a novel that has been fermenting for a while. I’ve written an opening to the book (which I will soon post) but today I thought I’d try to compose the ‘blurb’ for a back cover that may, or may not,  one day be real. 

Revd.  James Polley was just a normal vicar; caring for the community and seeking to bring light,  healing and love to his congregation. His previous life as a sergeant in the army sometimes seemed a long time ago yet he still carried the trauma of events long passed. 

Soon one of those passed events will come crashing into James’ present. Will he turn the other cheek or will it be an eye for an eye?

“Simply the best book by this brilliant author.” The author’s mum. 

Faith, hope and love remain. And the greatest of these is….

(ref. 1 Corinthians 13:13)

Whilst looking through my Facebook feed this morning I came across the following video which I just had to share with you all. Please do watch it – I think the 11 minutes or so is well worth it.

The reason why things work is because of love.

There’s something a lot greater than energy, there’s something a lot greater than entropy. It’s the fact that; what’s the greatest thing?


That’s what makes it all. The why we exist.

So in that great big universe that we have with all those stars, who cares?

Well someone cares about you a lot. And as long as we care about each other that’s where we go from…

I find Mr. Wright to be an amazingly inspirational figure as he repeats a universal truth long known.

In his first letter St. John talked about the same thing.

1 John 4:7-19 It is good to read the whole link if you have time but let me pull out a few highlights.

1 John 4:16 

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

1 John 4:19

We love because God first loved us.

1 John 4:21

The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.