My Longmynd Hike
by Catherine Mangham
At the last Friends’ weekend in September, the Friends who attended were given a glimpse of some early concept designs for the new chapel that will be constructed on the top terrace of the garden. This promises to be a rival to the Rock Chapel in terms of future ‘prayer spots’ in the house and grounds. The Friends agreed to take on the funding of this project and created the 40 Month Club whereby you contribute every month by direct debit for 40 months. The minimum donation per month is £3 but it is suggested that £10 a month or more would be ideal in order to meet our goal. The number 40 was chosen for its biblical resonance. You should have received an email from Fr Roger on this.
There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the idea of the Friends ‘adopting’ the new chapel because of the benefit to future generations of retreatants who will encounter God anew in the beauty of creation. Teresa McCaffery, who attended the weekend, writes:
‘At present we have some wooden structures at the top of the garden which, with the best will in the world are not welcoming to go into or particularly nice to look at from the outside. Inside the main building we have Capel y Coed, the chapel of the woods. This is a beautiful space, peaceful and warm with its own ‘view’ – of the tabernacle - where several people can pray without disturbing each other. Now we have the possibility of an equivalent space in the garden…What’s not to love about a chapel of the woods, in the woods?’
The response has already been, predictably, incredibly generous, with several individual donations as well as take-up of the ‘£10 a month for 40 months’ idea. We just wanted to share with you one story of a Friend who decided immediately after the weekend to turn her upcoming Longmynd Hike into a fundraising opportunity:
‘My Longmynd Hike’ – Catherine Mangham
I signed up for The Longmynd Hike this year, rather reluctantly. It is a 50 mile walk, involving 8000ft of climb, over the Shropshire hills, which starts on the second Saturday of October at 1pm and finishes by 1pm on Sunday. It is a rite of passage for walkers living in this part of the world, and, being a walker, I knew that I would have to do it eventually. Better sooner rather than later, I reasoned, and helpfully, the Shrewsbury Mountaineering Club were putting in a team and looking for members. Perfect! I then promptly forgot about it in a fit of denial. Sleep deprivation is not my favourite thing and I had become aware this year of painful feet due to Anno Domini. I did not want to think of how I was going to push through the excruciating pain of pinched nerves under the ball of the foot, if it came on.
It was, of course, a fantastic opportunity to raise money for a worthy cause, but the extreme denial had precluded me from addressing this issue, until I attended the Friends of St Beuno’s weekend in late September. Fr Roger’s talk about the plans for a new prayer room positioned in the woods above the terraces and looking over to the Snowdon range and the sea was hugely exciting. Already, I could see that the Rock Chapel might be knocked off the top spot in my affections for wonderful places to pray. When Roger offered the Friends the opportunity to be the main fundraisers for the new chapel, I realised that I had the perfect fundraising opportunity already in hand. What better way to lessen the pain of the walk than to imagine praying restfully in the dry, warmth and peace of the new prayer room drinking in another heavenly view?
Still in denial, I managed to arrive at the event centre with 10 minutes to go before the start of the race. I had forgotten about registration and a fairly rigorous kit check. I was the last to book in and was through and driven to the start of the race with a few minutes still in hand. No queuing for 30 minutes for me! I found my team mates and we were off.
The forecast had been atrocious through the week and we went to bed the night before to incessant rain. By 1pm it had all but blown through and we only suffered rain for a few minutes during the afternoon. We walked for 19 hours and 26 minutes through the most glorious hills and each hour brought another wonder. The sunset over the Stiperstones kept us entranced and gave out enough light for us to pick our way along the spiny path studded with sharp rocks and down on to the road, before darkness fell. Then the stars, muted at first by the lights of the villages we passed, soared and thickened as we tramped back up onto the hills. Mars accompanied our trooper efforts the whole night, fire flickering above the horizon. The sickle moon rose in the darkest part of the night, heralding the dawn , and as a silver glistening of frost settled on the grass, the stars began to fade, and the hills turned pink.
Checkpoints were well manned with enthusiastic scout leaders armed with crisps, jelly babies and hot and cold drinks. The tents, the flashing fairy lights and hospitality of the volunteers become increasingly eccentric as the night went on. At about 3am we approached a fairly deserted check point where lights seemed to detach themselves and contort and writhe in mid-air! A quick check on how we were all bearing up but no, we were not hallucinating, the volunteers had taped strings of lights to their arms and were trying to keep warm in the frosty air!
Our final ascent of Ragleth hill was timed to perfection, due to a slight navigational error. We stomped up irritated with ourselves to have lost time, and then the sun erupted over the horizon and all the earth was created anew.
Overall it was an exhilarating and wonderous few hours of deep connection with nature. The gentle movement of time, light caressing the earth and rolling on. Deep peace, a loving awareness of all that was and is and is to come. The new prayer room, will give many people a chance to experience this. As they pray, they will perhaps wonder if they are moving out, absorbed into the earth and sky or if the sky is moving in to enlighten them. Perhaps both at the same time.
At the moment my Justgiving page has raised just over £1000.
You can start your own findraising project using St Beuno's Justgiving page. Let us know if you need any assistance.
If you have not yet joined the 40 month club, click here to set up your direct debit and start your 40 month pilgrimage.