My, One, Wild, Wonderful Life
by Josephine Badali CND
What is it you plan to do with your “one, wild, wonderful life?” asks Mary Oliver in her poem, The Summer Day.
A year ago, I would never have included even the possibility of a 6 month internship, Training in Spirituality, at St. Beuno’s, as one of the “wild and wonderful” things that would shape my life! I first arrived at St. Beuno’s from Canada because my Religious Community had offered me the privilege of a sabbatical year. As I planned this precious gift, I did some internet research and discovered the 10 week “Course in Retreat Giving and Spiritual Guidance” that was being offered here. I considered that this program would both confirm and grow some of the personal gifts with which I thought that I had been graced. After I had completed the training and formation program, a position for an internship opened up; I applied and here I am.
Returning as an intern was different from arriving the first time at St. Beuno’s. I knew a little more about the building, its location and more importantly, the service that is so generously and lovingly offered here. But I have so much more to learn. Each day offers some new experience, some new learning and some new insight into how God desires to love life into us. Not the least to be mentioned is the spirit of St. Ignatius which continues to universally inspire and to guide people in their search for meaning and for hope. His own spirit hovers throughout the house as well as over the hills and valleys that are near and far.
Soon after my arrival, I was shown the nooks and crannies, the cellars and hidden spaces of this house that has a history of over 170 years of Ignatian spirituality and influence. I’m sure that the spirits of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Michael Ivens and so many others still linger here. I meet them in the hallways and in the various rooms that feature samples of their works and their pictures!
I was soon introduced to my co-workers, personnel who work in the numerous and various services. When you visit St. Beuno’s, you will note that there is among the whole staff, a great desire to cooperate and to collaborate by contributing their own personal gifts and expertise toward the facilitation of the ministry of the centre.
It amazes me how there is a constant ebb and flow of people at St. Beuno’s. Some retreatants who have been here for 3 day, 7 day, 2 day, 8 day, or 30 day retreats, themed retreats or Individually Guided Retreats (IGRs) leave in the morning. Other groups arrive in the afternoon, while others continue their chosen retreat in the cherished silence of the house and grounds. In the meantime, the housekeeping staff are preparing rooms for new arrivals; retreat staff are arranging and distributing flowers and welcoming messages for each retreatants’ room; the administration and catering staff are forging forward; the bee hives are being monitored and the production of apple juice is in process! There are truly a variety of gifts among us.
What, though, is at the heart of the ministry being offered here? What uniquely and profoundly stirs the spirit of each one who enters these hallowed halls? For me, the deep call is to listen, to hear and to respond to God’s desire for our universe. What is God’s desire? What is my desire?
The response is as unique and as different as is each one of us. Yes, it is to deepen my relationship with Jesus, the Christ! Yes, it is to find God in all things! Yes, it is to reflect upon my personal experience and to notice where are the stirrings and movements of the Spirit of Love and Hope and Joy, of light and of darkness! Yes it is to express to God my longings and my aching. Yes, it is simply to BE in God’s presence and in God’s embracing love. Each of us could add to this list of desires. What we add will be coloured by the shape and texture of our own daily lives.
People arrive at St. Beuno’s from the peripheries both existential and physical. They carry different expectations and needs as well as diverse experiences and images of God. Some are anxious, exhausted and filled with the “busyness, muchness and moreness” of their daily lives. Others are bent over like the woman in the Gospel; burdened with problems and concerns, suffering of all kinds. Others don’t really know what are their needs and they just desire to be here. Each one is welcomed just as he or she is.
No matter how a person is drawn to St. Beuno’s, the Centre offers a safe and silent space, a welcoming and prayerful environment where we can gently and deliberately pursue God’s desires for us. St. Beuno’s is where we may search for the face of God; where we may discover the sacred path that is ours and where we are free to open our hearts to God’s great love.
Is that not a precious gift for our wild and wonderful lives?