West Midlands Retreat Day: A Day to be Still!
Our visit to the ‘Quiet Garden’ at Walford Grange, Walford in South Shropshire started with a delightful car journey through the green and pleasant countryside en route to our destination. Sharing the car journey was a time also to get to know one of my fellow travellers and that too was a delight. Six of us in total arrived at the beautiful country house to be greeted by our warm and welcoming hostess Carole Dixon. Before I sing the praises of her wonderful garden, I should also point out what a great baker she is too. The cakes and refreshments that awaited us in her spacious kitchen were too tempting by half! Especially the chocolate brownies – the best I have ever tasted…..mmmm even the memory of them makes my mouth water. After quenching our thirst and any tummy rumbles our day was outlined and we met for an opening prayer in the comfortable lounge.
We had use of the whole of the ground floor and outdoor space to spend as we wished. The garden had lots of different places and seating for you to sit and meditate, read or simply just “be”. I enjoyed roaming around initially; the formal garden had two water features and I loved sitting by the elephant head as it poured water into the raised pond. The sound of running water I always find restorative. There is also an area left to the wild grasses with a path you can wonder through and watch the grasses respond to the breeze creating wonderful waves of different shades of green. The spaciousness of it all meant that no one intruded on your particular space.
On a personal level I spent some of my time reading Father Gregory Fruehwith’s book, ‘Words of Silence’ acquired at the recent Annual Gathering. Walford Grange’s Quiet Garden was the perfect spot to open up and contemplate on the inspirational meditations provided within the book. At midday we met together for a time of silence to honour those killed in Tunisia followed by a WCCM meditation. We had all brought our own lunches and sat in the garden enjoying the warmth of the sunshine and the tranquility of our surroundings. We had a further quiet time in the gardens and just before 3pm met for a final prayer and our goodbyes.
What did I take away with me from this day of quiet? Well it was a recognition that I need to build in similar times away where I can just give myself to spending time with God and learning to “be”. The other learning was not to check my phone at lunchtime! A minor problem disturbed my peace of mind and I realised that I must learn to not react always to problems but take more time to pray, pause and present the problem to God (wise words from my travel companion Sarah). My reading time also reconfirmed the need to simply be more in the present and meet with God in all things.
I cannot wait for the next time to visit Walford Grange which is open the first Friday of every month from 10am to 3pm. You can simply turn up or ring Carole to let her know you will be coming.
Finally thank you Carole for providing such a wonderful quiet space and place for others to come and find God.
Diane Cuff, Wellington Meditation Group, Shropshire.