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Life at Pilsdon

by Michael Ford last modified 02 Oct, 2020 11:27 PM

Our Diocese has a links with a number of communities set up for people from all walks of life, to provide spiritual havens, practical assistance, and to embody the Christian life in unique ways.

Since 1958, the Pilsdon Community has been offering a refuge to people in crisis, welcoming those from all backgrounds and from many different walks of life – whether young or old, rich or poor. Pilsdon is a community that shares a common life of prayer, hospitality and work, providing an environment of acceptance and friendship where people can begin to rebuild their lives.

The Revd Sue Langdon gives us an insight into community life, below.

Daily life at Pilsdon begins officially at 5.45am with milking our Jersey’s Snowdrop and Daffodil, though Henry is generally up earlier letting out the hens and ducks and checking on the other animals. Usually I make my first coffee at 4.00am and take a brief look at the news before I settle down to contemplate the day ahead and have conversation with the One who has many names.

Breakfast in the week is at 8.00am and Saturdays are Trevor’s gift to us with the full works; a plate of cooked deliciousness. Eggs appear on several mornings along with porridge and Matt’s yogurt, which I swear would win awards.

While Breakfast is prepped, the milk is pasteurized. Silas, my ‘doodle,’ sniffs his way around the lanes as I see anew the beauty of this place. Morning Prayer follows at 7.30am. Our community Church, where people have brought their joys and sorrows for many generations, is an ancient holy place full of space and light. The straw bales we sit on rustle as we make ourselves comfortable for the long silence after the Gospel is read. A small singing bowl announces the silence and gently hums as we deepen our connection internally to the life that lives through us. John Philip Newell often guides with his Sounds of the Eternal and Praying with the Earth.

This morning,
Early in the morning we seek your presence O God,
not because you are ever absent from us
but because often we are absent from you
at the heart of each moment
where you forever dwell.
In the rising of the sun,
in the unfolding colour and shape of the morning
open our eyes to the mystery of this moment
that in every moment of the day
We may know your life-giving presence.
Open our eyes to this moment
that in every moment
I may know you as the One who is always now.

Gradually as the ‘larks’ appear for breakfast some remain quiet after an initial good morning; allowing others to chat or on a rare occasion sing! Eddie has been known to render, ‘there’s a bright golden haze on the medda, there’s a bright golden haze on the medda, the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye, and it’s growing and right up to the sky... O, what a beautiful morning...’

Peter is onto the domestic washing up and the porridge pot is scraped out in the main kitchen as the Members gather for their daily 8.30am meeting. Looking through the diary, talking over the issues and concerns from the last 24 hours, sharing how we are.

Today Franti is checking the pigsty is ready for the weaners that will arrive today and Jack, who has cared for pigs before, looks forward to them coming. The Sunday joint will be cooked this morning and left to be cut cold and heated through - our food hygiene 5 stars is important to us. Mary takes her first swing at the rota; such a tough job trying to fit in everyone’s preferences and capacities and make sure all the tasks are covered.

Life at Pilsdon- Jack feeding apples to weaners
Jack feeding apples to weaners

The now 3 of us with 24/7 responsibility means we are stretched. ‘Thin on the ground’ has been the reply to everyone who asks how we are and we are delighted that two people have come to be short term residential volunteers and will see us through until some more come at the end of September. This means we can each take 2 weeks out over the next 6 weeks and restore our resilience.

Our iconic Sunday lunch is cooked with lots of conversation between us as we prep and stir. Traditions kept remind us of who we are and small changes keep us fresh and flexible. After lunch I talk with the whole community about what the week ahead looks like and how we all need to continue to practise social distancing if we go shopping. We continue taking our temperatures each morning before coffee; this to see how everyone is and a reminder, though we have the luxury of living as one household, we still need to be careful.

Life at Pilsdon- Peter rings the Temperature bell at 10.45
Peter rings the Temperature bell at 10.45

Monday morning and I’m aware Ruth is awaiting this piece for the magazine. The list of jobs and tasks in our diary is long this morning and we have a longer meeting today. I catch my breath and wonder how do we do all this? Another deeper breath and give thanks realising again we do not do anything in our own strength and only through the grace of God.

This piece originally appeared in the October E Magazine for the Golden Cap Team.

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