How many monks can you fit in a Mini?

Today started relatively early, with a Men’s Prayer Breakfast at church. Getting up wasn’t the problem – delaying breakfast was though! We had a good discussion though, about our direction as a church and what we were actively doing in our community. Some bits were quite challenging, as I guess you’d expect from a discussion like that. After all, you can always do more. One of the first things to establish, both as a congregation and as an individual, is who your community is. Someone very rightly pointed out that our workplaces are our mission fields. I’m a little different because I work from home, and most of the people who I do web sites for are churches! Still, I’ve been making sure I get myself into non-Christian friendship groups this year, so hopefully opportunties will present themselves in due course.

After a brief rest at home, a little more web design, and some lunch, it was back out again to meet people at the Chaplaincy. Today we were all going to a monestary for the afternoon, to see what it was like and what they do, and Alex had managed to rope me in to give people a lift. It was actually an Orthadox monestary, which was quite interesting. It was near Tolleshunt Knights, about 13 miles from university along lovely country roads. When we arrived we met up with a guy called Melchizedek who was in charge of showing visitors around the monestary. First of all we went to the main church, which was fairly small (apparently it can hold up to 150 people, but I wouldn’t like to be in there then!!) but beautifully decorated. All the walls were painted with icons, depicting the life of Jesus from birth to death and beyond. Right on the far wall they had a huge icon of the Last Supper, which was quite inspiring. There was also a screen across the front, behind which the priests would sit and do whatever it is they do behind the screens… We also looked in on the small chapel, which was like a miniature version of the church, similarly dimly lit but very atmospheric. Then we walked over to the refectory, looked at all the paintings on the walls there, and had a nice cup of tea. For some reason several people looked at me as soon as ‘tea’ was mentioned… no idea why that was…

Before we left we attended the beginning of one of their services in the church, which was an interesting experience. There were about 40-50 people there in all, and it was quite different to a ‘normal’ church service. For a start, people were free to wander in and out at any stage in the service (which was good for us because the services normally go on for about 2-3 hours!!). They didn’t have any instruments, though they did have a chamber choir hidden behind the screen doing some songs and some sung liturgy. Some of it was in another language, so I didn’t understand those bits, but the music was nice. Very calming, very atmospheric. The guy in charge also came round several times with some incense, which I respectfully put up with (never been a big fan of the smells-n-bells approach). There wasn’t any participation involved, no joining in with songs, no chanting along, nothing to do really except listen. There wasn’t a teaching bit either, though that may have come later – we only stayed for an hour or so. All in all it was very interesting, though I have to admit I don’t think I gained a huge amount from it spiritually. It was fascinating seeing how other people ‘do’ church, how a monestary works, and seeing a glimpse of what an Orthadox service is like. I think I’ll still carry on going to Orchard Baptist Church though – I’m not sure the monestary would take too kindly to me playing my guitar at full volume and singing Shine Jesus Shine…!!!

On another note, I think my Mini needs a trip to a rolling road. I got the distinct impression when driving to the monestary (admittedly I had a full car at the time) that the engine was a little lumpy in the acceleration. It may be that putting the new exhaust on will help that, as a blowy exhaust is never good, but I’ve also read that you should have your car checked on a rolling road any time you make any changes to anything to do with performance, as you may need to alter stuff to do with the mixture and stuff to cater for whatever you’ve changed. I’m going to ask around at the Mini Club, see if anyone can recommend anywhere. It would be nice to make sure the engine is nicely tuned as well. I was reading in the Mini Magazine recently about what sort of BHP people were getting out of their Minis, and was pleased to read that a standard 1275 spi engine should be producing about 63bhp, which isn’t bad. Not sure my Neddy is doing that, not consistently anyway. The RC40 exhaust should improve the performance slightly, but I guess I’ll have to wait until I can get it properly tested to see what’s actually going on. I’m also tempted to get a replacement air filter too, one that will help Neddy to breath in more easily, having sorted the breathing out! Oh, and I’ve also decided what wheels I want – silver Revolution RFX alloys, 12 x 5. Here’s a picture of them actually on a car. Sweet. But expensive. Ah well, start saving the pennies!

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