“Bishop George”

While David Hawkins and his wife, Louisa, were rebuilding their marriage (see previous post), they spent some time in England, at Lee Abbey in Devon, on the suggestion of the pastor who was counselling them (“Paul”, who I strongly suspect to have been Paul Zahl).

On their way to Devon, David and Louisa Hawkins visited Wells, as the bishop of Bath and Wells was a friend of Paul’s. They had lunch with “Bishop George” in his residence, “a palace surrounded by a moat with swans and ducks”:

The bishop was warm and unassuming; a loving spirit shone through his intellect. His wife was practical, collected and actively shared his ministry.

What impressed David Hawkins most was Bishop George’s humility in unselfconsciously helping with the domestic chores:

I watched Bishop George serve our food and, when we were finished, load the dishwasher. I had claimed near total exemption from performing duties within our home and I was very aware of my lazy selfishness as I watched him perform these chores.

Hawkins appreciated Bishop George’s Lenten meditation in the cathedral that afternoon. However:

My first thought of Bishop George will always be the wordless sermon on service he preached in his kitchen that Sunday.

Who was Bishop George? Hawkins doesn’t give his surname, or any other hint as to his identity – but by the time Hawkins wrote his memoir, Bishop George was no longer bishop of Bath and Wells, but archbishop of Canterbury.

This has transformed my view of George Carey. I wasn’t the biggest fan of him as archbishop of Canterbury (or in his retirement). But David Hawkins’ account is a reminder that where it really counts – being a true servant (and imitator) of Christ – Dr Carey was, and is, the real deal.

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2 Responses to “Bishop George”

  1. The Dotterel says:

    Reminds me of a story Bill Ind told recently, recalling how – teatowel in hand – a lady of the diocese has complimented him with: “I took one look at you and knew you were a worker…” At which the Bishop smiled demurely. “Because, let’s face it, you’re too ugly to be ornamental…”

  2. Thanks for that, John. Glimpses like this into the lives of real people are really useful to me. I tend to live by imitation.

    I hope this book will be reprinted. Meanwhile I hope you keep blogging it!



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