‘See the land so black and barren, God will make a watered garden. Fruitfulness where once was parchedness, light to break into the darkness, Upper Springs and Nether Springs in the field that Father’s given.’ Celtic Daily Prayer – Meditation for Day 14
The Nether Springs is situated quite deliberately in North Northumberland as a fulfilment of Joshua 15:17-19, a foundational scripture about the Father’s gift to us of both the Nether Springs and the Upper Springs. In the early days this story of Caleb, Othniel and Achsah inspired us ‘to seek for the Nether Springs’. Holy Island was so clearly the place of the Upper Springs; but somewhere further inland would be a place where people could seek the nether, hidden, deeper springs of spirituality rooted in the history and heritage of Northumbria.
This spirituality had at its heart the desire for God, of seeking Him and knowing Him, which was expressed in ‘a faith that is active and contagious (Upper Springs) and ‘a prayer that is quiet and contemplative’ (Nether Springs). We needed (and still need) both the ebb and the flow of the tide of life. The priority of finding ‘the Nether Springs, a residential monastic centre, and home of Northumbria Ministries’ was realised in October 1992 when the Nether Springs found a home at Hetton Hall, a large house with a central peel tower, located close to Cuthbert’s Cave in North Northumberland.
After 18 + years the Nether Springs found a new home a little further south but still in North Northumberland at Acton Home Farm, between Alnwick and Morpeth. So in early 2011 we were able to finalise the move amidst much thanksgiving for God’s provision.
The Nether Springs is the Mother House, administrative centre and home of the Northumbria Community. It is a semi-residential expression of what is at the heart of the Northumbria Community – the exploring, embracing and expressing of ‘a new monasticism.’ A monastic school of life, not a monastery but a centre where monastic values and spiritual disciplines from the monastic tradition are outworked, lived, taught – living what we teach, by teaching what we live – with the Rule of Availability and Vulnerability, the rhythm of the Daily Office being our framework.
The Nether Springs is a sign of the Community’s contemplative heart, a symbol of hope in a fragmented world, a reminder to the wider Community of the need for liturgical prayer and a daily rhythm, in expressing a different way to live. It is ‘a demonstration that God exists.’
Among its many functions are the provision of Heart, linked to the question, ‘Who is it that you seek?’ by being a place of Retreat, at the centre of which is seeking God for Himself. The provision of Home, linked to the question, ‘How then shall we live’ by being a place of Reflection on the issues of the new age and changing culture. The provision of Hospitality, linked to the question, ‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? By being a place of Refuge for spiritually unsettled people. A safe place where a stable instability and a certain uncertainty offers Hope, because ‘the future belongs to those who have hope.’
All of this is to serve the Lord and his Church. To touch individual lives so that they in turn can touch the lives of others. In this all Companions are moving in and out of both the Nether Springs and the Upper Springs aspects of Monastery and Mission. A going out and a returning. A sending out and a welcoming home. ‘May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you… may he bring you home rejoicing…’
If you are thinking of visiting us at Nether Springs there is plenty more information for you to browse.