anchorites in England

I have been reading Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200-1550 by E.A. Jones. It is a collection of documents with an excellent introduction to each section. I have not read the part on hermits yet but the sections on the anchorite life are filled with amazing insights. I know there are books on continental anchorites, yet there is a part of me that thinks of it as the most English of religious lives.

So I have been thinking about the anchorite rite of enclosure. After some elements inside the church, the anchorite gets to watch their own funeral from their new home. Often their grave was part of their devotional space and they would watch the services inside the church from inside their grave. Death is a reality for the anchorite, as it was, presumably, for everyone in the middle ages.

Not a particularly happy thought for a Sunday afternoon. But the connection between the eucharist, the death of Jesus, and my own death are worth considering. Kierkegaard writes that at the altar (when we receive Communion) we are truly alone. At that moment life and death become one moment. To live for Jesus is to live in that tension between death and life.

Anyway …

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