A day in May in the Valley of the Elwy

Published on 21 Sep 2017

by Julia Warrell

I have just walked back from the Rock Chapel. It is a hot, sunny day, and lunchtime. I have crossed the fields, avoiding a bull with his ‘lady friends,’ and headed for the woods! Here, the perfume from the cow parsley, mingled with that of wild garlic, is quite overpowering! A wonderful smell enhanced by the warmth of the sun.

A little while ago, I had sat on a bench, near to the Chapel, surveying all before me – magnificent countryside with undulating hills. I could see and hear children playing in the fields near to their school. Here there was the usual mixture of birdsong! But one little bird persisted in chanting over and over again the words: ‘Some day, some day…’ They spoke to me. I reflected on a favourite hymn, ‘The Old Rugged Cross,’ particularly the chorus:

‘So I’ll cherish the Old Rugged Cross

till my trophies at last I lay down;

I will cling to the Old Rugged Cross

and exchange it some day for a crown!’

Could I, ‘SOME DAY,’ acquire that crown?! I’ll remember that little bird!

I had also watched a tiny worm and a small woodlouse, endeavouring to reach their laborious efforts to climb over a twig. He at last made it and eventually vanished under a tuft of grass. Quite fascinating! A treat indeed to have the time and opportunity to observe nature in this way.

I had lunch, followed by a time of contemplation, reflection and prayer, for the rest of the day. I attended evening Mass in the main chapel, then supper and an early night.

Before my walk to the Rock Chapel, I experienced a ‘bad’ night – I had woken up several times in the early hours of the morning, unable to settle. I looked out of the window – dawn was breaking so I got up and had a refreshing shower. Dark clouds were threatening but the sun soon appeared and I decided to go for a walk in the garden.

Pushkin, the resident cat, greeted me. Rolling over several times she constantly requested to be stroked; then she got up, leaving me to my own devices! I had a feeling of unreality – the sheer peace and beauty of this place – conducive to prayer. The smell of the wet grass, the dampness of the early morning air, the freshness of the trees and the dawn chorus: all contributed to a feeling of wellbeing.

After a healthy breakfast I had time with my ‘Spiritual Guide’ – a good listener, whose purpose was to ‘guide’ me on my journey of faith (three full days). Afterwards I spontaneously found myself heading out towards the Rock Chapel via the woods and across the fields…

‘Lovely the woods, waters,

Meadows, combes, vales;

All the air things wear

That build this world of Wales’

(Gerard Manley Hopkins)

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