Not that I've been away on retreat, or anything - in fact I've spent most of the weekend as a sort of amateur waiter. But on Saturday I had the privilege of being present at the profession of six members of a newly formed Norbertine Third Order at the Abbey of Park (founded 1129; suppressed 1789; refounded 1790; suppressed 1797; refounded 1836). The ceremony was surprisingly short, and surprisingly moving. Afterwards I found myself carrying round trays of sandwiches at a reception in what I take to have been the abbot's rather palatial parlour.
Then on Sunday, a Norbertine of the Abbey of Tongerlo (founded 1128; suppressed 1796; refounded 1840) came to a village near here to pronounce a blessing over the archery guild's new popinjay mast (which looks vaguely like some sort of high-tech broadcast equipment). Then there was a barbecue and a three-hour shooting competition, where I found myself pouring drinks, clearing tables and washing up. Why do festivals always seem to become opportunities for washing-up?