Tuesday, 8 March 2011


Sarasota can sometimes feel a wee bit claustrophobic, or restricting. At those times I feel the need to get out of town for a few days, for a change of scenery and of company.

Later this month I will take such a three day/two night trip. I am to visit a small town in Tennessee called Sewanee (it’s west of Chattanooga).

Sewanee is the home of the famed “University of the South”, a place of great learning and prestige.

Sewanee is the only university in the nation that is owned and governed by dioceses of the Episcopal Church, specifically the 28 dioceses of the southeastern United States. With historic roots in the Anglican ecclesiastical and academic traditions, Sewanee welcomes people of all faiths and offers a lively environment for active worship in the Episcopal tradition, which includes a commitment to service and an openness to intellectual discourse.

“The University” (as it is often called) is home to a School of Theology where men and women are trained for ministry in the Episcopal Church.

As it happens, I know four people who are at the School of Theology.

Karen Meridith was a parishioner at St. James’s in Cambridge. She now heads up a fabulous programme for “at distance” learning in the Episcopal Church - it is called “Education for Ministry”.

Tracy Wells Miller was also a St. Jamesian during the time she was a Harvard. Tracy is now a postulant for Holy Orders from the Diocese of Atlanta.

Wayne Farrell is a member of St. Boniface, Siesta Key here in Sarasota. He was recently ordained Deacon. When he graduates later this spring he will be assigned to a parish somewhere here in South West Florida.

The Revd. Ben King teaches Church history at Sewanee. He and I were colleagues in Boston and in Cambridge.

So I’ll take the trip to visit with these good people, and also to enjoy the landscape around Sewanee on what is called the Cumberland Plateau. I am told that it is an area of outstanding natural beauty.

I’ll have a house sitter for the cats and dog, and will fly from nearby St. Petersburg to Chattanooga.

I am using a so-called budget airline. The airfare was inexpensive, but by the time I’d made the reservation I discovered that there were $112 in additional charges (all of course hidden in the small print).

Grrrrr! I wish that the airlines would understand that these additional charges are an utter irritant to most travelers.

 They leave us believing that we are being “ripped off” - and so we are! I (and many others) would be much more warmly disposed to both budget and major airlines if they reverted to the good old way of a straightforward fare which included these add-ons.

Grrr again!

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