Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunday, September 26 - Anafora

On Saturday evening, after our full day in Cairo, we headed to a Coptic Retreat Center in the Nile Delta region called Anafora.  It is not far from the location of Skete which was one of the more prominent monasteries of the Desert Fathers.   Anafora is only about 11 years old and was founded by Coptic Bishop Thomas to be a place of hospitality and welcome for all.  Anafora is a little bit of heaven on earth.  It is a working farm with well water and irrigation.  There is a small community of Coptic nuns.   It also seems to have a ministry for woman in their 20s and 30s.   The Guest facilities are wonderful. We were warmly welcomed and served tea.   Our rooms were cool and beautiful.   Dinner was fresh, and we could eat almost everything - fresh cucumbers, chicken, fresh breads. Sunday was a scheduled "Quiet Day" and we entered the 'Great Silence" after Compline on Saturday evening and were invited to keep it until supper on Sunday.   We had a noon Eucharist.   I used the day for extra rest and some quiet time for prayer and reflection.   The church at Anafora is especially beautiful.  It is designed for both Christian and Muslim worship and has an amazing "eye" built into the ceiling.  When we attended evening services on Saturday, Susan said she could see the moon pass through the eye.  I missed that, it had to be a mystical sight. I attended early Sunday worship (6 AM), though we could not receive communion, the priest called those of us present afterward and gave us each a piece of unconsecrated bread.  I am always challenged by the withholding of communion and believe Christ would be appalled, but I did appreciate the warmth and genuineness of his gesture.   We had our own Eucharist in the small chapel of Anafora at noon.  On Sunday night, the Coptic celebration of the Feast of the Holy Cross took place and their was a great procession of a flaming and flowered cross, brought from the church to the extensive pool of Anafora so that the water could be blessed and provide life (it's used for irrigation).  In ancient days, the Coptic Church processed to the Nile to do this.  It was a joyous celebration!

A delicious and beutiful dinner at Anafora
Sitting and dining area at Anafora

Another sitting area at Anafora

The church at Anafora (the picture does not do it justice!)

Our living room in Anafora


Small chapel

The cross blessing the water

Exterior of the guest suites

Exterior of the Church

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