Only when I reached there did I realise that one of my favourite and a great English poets Gerard Manley Hopkins spent three years in that house: 1874-1877, studying theology! And that is where he re-discovered his poetic talent, which he had suppressed while joining the Jesuits, thanks to a shipwreck that was carrying six nuns!
St Beuno’s is a great place! Such a beautiful place! The environs are written in silence! No doubt Hopkins sang of silence so beautifully, in the little Chapel on the Rock!
Well, the last time I had promised that you would come to know : I was there to make my retreat. This was a Film-Retreat. Usually we consume films for entertainment. Some do them for academic purposes, and a few others may be using them for a few other purposes like education, propaganda, lobbying, publicity,etc. But I had never thought of films in terms of spiritual experience.
That’s precisely what I did at St Beuno’s – used films to pray with, and it was a great experience!
In our group, there were 12 of us – the 13th did not get visa in good time, and hence missed out on it.
Of the 12, one was a Jesuit, and two women were priests in the Anglican Communiion – one lady in the Church of England and another lady from the Church of Sweden, who came all the way only for this retreat! And all other lay people! Four other men with five women. Of these, one was a couple in their fifties!
Besides benefiting from my prayer, I also benefited immensely from the daily group sharing – their prayer experience. That was such a group support! And above all, the group was such a mature and serious one! I did not come across anyone speaking or chatting anytime! Though a smile always on their faces, never a distraction! Excellent rapport by the end of the retreat had developed among the retreatants, without having spoken a word! Only with occasional smiles!
And then there was the entire atmosphere rendered the mystic poetic by Gerard Manley Hopkins! We had our screenings and sharings in the basement – in the Hopkins Gallery, where Hopkins is brought alive through his poetry and life-story in capsule form! Each line of his every poem was an inspiration!
Do I need to tell you about the role the lovely, beautiful, heavenly nature plays in our spiritual life!? I have no words!
The same Rock Chapel – an inside view:-