Sister Stella writes …

After about nearly three months of lockdown when frustration over necessary constrictions for protecting our vulnerable Sisters on the Infirmary Wing needed to be expressed and responded to, we invited the Ven Caroline Baston, our Warden, to draw out some ways forward. She sensitively enabled Sisters to share their feelings and hopes individually with her by Skype or Zoom. She then produced some coherent suggestions for a certain amount of phased loosening of lockdown. It was a much appreciated engagement.

It issued in a strong sense of relief that Sisters were no longer confined to the boundaries of our grounds and could walk into town, avoiding entering shops and confined spaces, as well walking towards the Downs. Both ventures required self-containment and respect for others when passing on pavements or paths.

There are now friendly meetings between our Sisters on St Raphael’s Wing and the rest of us. We had greatly missed this. We have also valued one or two relaxed gatherings with some social distancing in the garden – sadly saying fond goodbyes to some long term members of staff whom we cannot at present employ, but also celebrating a Sister’s 90th birthday with great verve. We’ve even gained a gazebo for those invited to visit Sisters in the grounds to protect them from encountering a downpour.

The workmen are doing their utmost to complete the restructuring and refurbishing of our Guest Wing that has been severely delayed. We immensely regret being unable to express our ministry of welcome and hospitality to those individuals and groups wanting to experience silence and stillness and worship in our environment. Some Trustees and Sisters are involved in careful planning as well as exploring vision, especially for how we will draw people to our new Maribel Centre. There will be innovative sharing by the Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust whom we are delighted moved pre-lockdown into office space in a wing of our Convent. We are keen to develop contacts with young adults and to alert ourselves and others to the needs especially of vulnerable women through charities supporting them. Please pray for our encouragement of such links.

We trust that in the limitations that you may be experiencing in having to work at home or in supporting children or grandchildren with school work you are also finding creative activities and new ways of relating to those close to you.