Saturday, 19 October 2013

Living with a Monastic Heart

Yesterday I visited Rydal Hall with my friend from prayer group to hear Esther de Waal speak on the title above.  She shared about her own journey in faith and finding St Benedict as a busy wife and mother and how "The Rule" had not only helped her in the nuts and bolts of daily living but had also been an anchoring point in the storms.  My thoughts here cannot do justice to her as an eloquent, amusing and incredibly knowledgeable speaker, now well into her eighties!  One of her comments resonated so deeply and was the encouragement I needed at the end of a very harrowing week and it was such a blessing to be able to share this with her.

The day began at 10:00 with the usual coffee and chat, Esther's first talk ran from 10:40 until 11:50 with a five minute break in between, after which there was a half hour meditation for those who wished to take part.  It was quite something to be in a room of well over fifty people, sitting in silence and "Holding oneself still before the gaze of God" ( Esther de Waal)  My friend and I attempted to eat our lunch outside in the gardens but when the Lake District rain became a little more persistent, we wandered back inside.

Esther's talk in the afternoon highlighted the many similarities between Benedictine and Celtic spirituality as in essence they are both a "weaving of prayer in daily living", one by the call to pray at regular intervals throughout the day and night, interspersed with work, rest and eating; the other making a tapestry of grace filled moments as each task is completed around the hearth and home.

Whilst the second meditation session began, I took my camera for a prayer walk and the joy it brought me in focusing in the tiniest detail and capturing the beauty on a wet autumn day, was pure balm for my soul and a very gift from heaven above:

My walk began here.

Past the angel on guard...
... the colourful foliage and ...
... the rain soaked leaves.
Listening to the water crashing against the rocks.
Walking through an inviting tunnel...
... and finding this place, I wonder what is behind the door ...
... a thunderous noise and an amazing sight, I must take a closer look...
Just wonderful!
Back on the trail.

Standing Still.

Saying good bye.
By now it was time to meet my friend and make our way back to the car but not before admiring a special unexpected treat I had discovered on my wanderings:
Yarn Bombing!
And then as we wandered past the tee rooms and headed down the hill, what should we spy but a woodland walk full of weavings and wood carvings!




This one had truly become part of the landscape as you can see the lichen growing through the weaving!
A coat for a tree complete with...

... stone buttons!

A lasting image and a peaceful heart.




  1. What beautiful photographs. I had the impression I was walking with you. What is "yarn bombing"?

    1. Yarn bombing is also known as guerilla knitting whereby ordinary objects within the landscape are given extra decorative touches, so telephone kiosks have been known to be covered in a riot of colour. I did attend a yarn fest with a friend late last month and i have yet to blog about it, there was some yarn bombing going on big time! Xx

    2. Oh, I have heard of that, it is called "knit art" in Germany, but has turned into artists' pornographic expressions in many cities. An older relative told me about this when I was in Germany. She didn't like that at all! I guess the way it is done in your part of the world seems to be different, though.

  2. Hello San, It is all so beautiful. I love your photographs. I'm glad you were able to hear Esther de Waal speak. That must have been very special. My library has the Celtic Way of Prayer, but Lost in Wonder looks good too. Have you read both?

  3. Yes I've read the Celtic Way, well worth a borrow1

  4. Wow, I felt I was walking with you San, such a truly beautiful place. I still remember going to a healing mass when I was much younger and a wave of love came about me, I'll always keep that feeling close. Esther de waal sounds such an amazing person. Xxx


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