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First Time Experiences

The past two weeks in the Novitiate have been a time of many first time experiences for me, which I would like to share with you today. Since I’m here, I’ve had many new experiences which have broadened my horizons and have been pushing me out of my comfort zone increasingly.

I got my first ride on a Steam Train last Easter Monday, when we took a ride on the Severn Valley Railway (www.svr.co.uk) from Bridgnorth to Bewdley. It felt like a back in time experience as the trains were excellently preserved both in exterior and interior. It reminded me of my childhood, watching “Thomas and friends” and hearing the familiar rhythm- chuuugga-chuugga, chugga-chuga, chug-chug, (I think I can, I think I can ). I also loved the very audible train whistle and the fact that the staff wore traditional clothes.

On Tuesday, I entered a mosque for the first time as we got a guided tour of the Ghamkol Sharif (www.ghamkolsharif.org) mosque in Birmingham. The guide was good and answered our many questions concerning Islam and the mosque.We learnt a bit about the basic beliefs of Islam, the five basic duties of Islam and of their prayer and worship. We even noted that they used prayer beads called Misbaha which aid them in their prayer, which reminded me of the rosary beads Catholics use.

Our Islamic Education was followed up on Wednesday by a visit to the Hajj exhibition at the British Museum (www.britishmuseum.org/hajj).It was my first visit to the British Musem and I was amazed at the size of the building plus the exhibiton. Unfortunately, I was also half-expecting to see dinosaur exhibits in that museum but was told I would find them in another.  The exhibition was an extremely educational experience complete with models of Mecca, videos, pictures, quotes, and diagrams. The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime if they are able. The exhibition charted the history of this deeply personal journey.

These experiences last week, follow on the heels of me making my first semi- pilgrimage with Geoff and Janis on the Northern Cross as he mentioned below last week. Being caught in a mini-blizzard on this pilgrimage was one thing I didn’t bargain for and I got more snow than I hoped to experience.

As you can see, it’s not all work in the Novitiate, our visits last week provided an opportunity to refresh ourselves after a busy Holy Week. We resumed our conferences this Monday, which will focus on the vow of Poverty for the next 3 weeks. The discussions are interesting and maybe you will hear more on those next week. Have a great week, and check us out next Wednesday for another Blog post on Novitiate happenings.

 Joel

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