Saturday, 3 August 2013

Breaking bread and meeting the Jesus Deck

Street entrance to the Chapel

Yesterday I attended a friendly celebration of Lammas, first harvest, held in the tiny, virtually hidden chapel of St Margaret and Mary Magdalene here in Glastonbury.

When I arrived, Diana, the minister was in a bit of a flap, as she described it, she was experiencing,  "Oven malarky".

She, her volunteers and visitors had been symbolically kneading and shaping bread dough by hand, but the oven, specially purchased for the event, had tragically failed to perform due to  electrical malfunction.


Resolute, undeterred, Diana was making arrangements by telephone to use the oven at St Benedict's close by, but was gracious enough to pause and welcome me with warmth, interest and personal attention.
View of chapel and garden
I had dual motives for visiting, I liked the idea of a small scale ceremony in such an intimate and private feeling space, that is very much my mood these days.

And I was intrigued by a note on the chapel's facebook page:

'At a loose end on friday afternoon? Come and join us. There may well be some Jesus Deck reading as well.'

Jesus deck readings!?  

I needed to know more, and rummaged around online for some background information on the deck, which is a reprint of an original edition from 1972.

Diana led me along the short length of the chapel lawn, bordered by stunningly well attended flowering plants; it felt to me to be one of the most beautiful and balanced gardens in Glastonbury. The rear bench grants a generous view of the chapel and a true sense of seclusion and safety, though we were only yards away from  a heavily trafficked main road.

Sample card
I could have simply sat and absorbed the bliss of my surroundings, but Diana had the Jesus Deck with her and talked me through it: essentially a summarised pictoral representation of the life of Jesus. A format of 52 cards, divided between the four apostles, plus two 'jokers'.

Diana explained that she didnt perceive the cards to have a divinatory function, but that she did give 'readings' whereby would invite a person to select a card and give a commentary on the episode of the Christ story in question, and that maybe this would be helpful in assisting that person with any current life situations.

She performed this service for me. It was helpful and the card I selected felt pertinent and meaningful. Diana found significance in the colours and imagery and this gave almost a Jungian flavour to her commentary. We discussed my spiritual journey, the cosmopolitan composition of the Glastonbury community and I received a personal prayer.

Symbol of the first harvest
The bread duly arrived. Presented in a variety of shapes that were personalised by the bakers , traditional plaits, twist and cottage loaves and even a a hedgehog!

We used our hands to 'break the bread' and then eat some. Which was warm, crusty outside, soft inside, a little salty, light and good. The feast was completed by a basket of plump, sweet summer berries and enhanced by the steady sunshine and blue sky above.

I took a peek into the main chapel, which I had visited once before, at night, for a session of  the Dances of Universal Peace.

I noticed two delightful icons of female saints that had surely issued from a small painting studio that presently occupies one of the former almshouses. And picked up a copy of the prayer booklet from the ceremony, which I had missed, having arrived late.

Icon of St Margaret

The next formal event at the chapel will be another from the Celtic calender, at Autumn equinox.

The Jesus Deck is available exclusively from The Diocese of Chelmsford Resource Centre: 

Tel: 01245 294405

Stay up to date with Chapel news and events

May your harvest be bountiful!



  1. Hey Jennifer, it's Lynn (CS) from the McD forums. I found you and love your blog. I love the way you weave all the aspects of your journey/life together. I'm trying at this late date to do that too. Without pushing it, I find myself led to the right places and the right people to appreciate it all. You help. Thank you for this. Lovely.

  2. Hi Lynn,

    Thanks for coming to my blog and voicing support. I'm glad you are enjoying it! Yes indeed the journey of life... it is a weaving of threads of experience, hopefully to form a harmony and a wholeness, a sustainable and enriching way of being in the world.

    Blessings on your journey


Comments and conversation are warmly welcomed!