Summer at St Beuno's
by Julia Warrell
The word ‘home’ denotes a sense of permanence: ‘there forever’! As in ‘our heavenly home’ or when we say, ‘I am going home.’ In childhood, for many, home is a familiar place of safety, security and love. The presence of parents is perhaps taken for granted with no thought for the future. However, as the saying goes ‘home is where the heart is’ and I cannot disagree.
So this feeling pervades in my relationship with St Beuno’s. I was first led there in 2007. The place eventually became my ‘spiritual home’. Always there, apparently permanent and changeless. Year after year I had to return!
Fourteen years on, dramatic and inevitable changes have taken place. There has been structural work and refurbishment of the building and the grounds have been transformed by the felling of trees, particularly in the lower wood, thereby opening up the area for the benefit of nature and generations to come.
But what has not changed is St Beuno’s spiritual uniqueness, enhanced by the environment - a place of outstanding natural beauty in the Vale of Clwyd. Also, and most importantly, unchanged is the dedication of the St Beuno’s team, responsible for its continuity, running and future – a Herculean task!
This summer I came back ‘home’ for a time of rest, spiritual enrichment, peace, healing and hope. St Beuno’s offered a sense of permanence after a time of recent painful uprooting. I found the place ‘still here’, firmly planted, to receive those seeking care and attention.
On the first day of my retreat, I woke early in familiar surroundings with a sense of anticipation for the days ahead, while also wondering whether my expectations would be met. After breakfast, and my first meeting with my spiritual director, I crossed the fields as usual to the Rock Chapel. Here refurbishment of the building had taken place. The morning sunlight was perfect – it reflected vivid colours of green, yellow and blue; purple, orange and scarlet from the amazing stained-glass windows within. I lit a candle and watched. Then I read several times a passage from the already-opened bible. I considered happy days gone by as well as the meanings of ‘alone’ (choice) and ‘lonely’ (no choice). A big difference, appropriate to my personal circumstances of the here and now.
Afterwards I re-explored the grounds, all familiar to me, enjoying the warmth of the sun and smell of freshly-mown grass. I visited the tiny cemetery for a while in contemplation, prayer and thought. A place of calm and remembrance. The soft cooing of a wood pigeon could be distinctly heard.
Towards the end of the day, I took a stroll around the garden. I enjoyed the varying colours of the gently-scented roses, the velvety, purple pansies and the soft, pink poppies. Sadly I had missed the bluebells and wild garlic of early May!
Now for the phenomenal sunset I have witnessed many times. At 9 pm I ran for a strategic position! On the dot, the process began with a backdrop of blue sky and streaky, white clouds; the sea and mountains beyond.
I had experienced a wonderful day – a day for reminiscing and pondering on the meaning of ‘home,’ permanence and change. All very relevant to me at this time.
The sun has now disappeared from view and the light is starting to fade fast. Tomorrow, indeed, is another day.