God's Water From Wales

Narrative 1:

'Dust off our Welsh saints: they are keys to our future' Rowan Williams told Brother Gildas of Caldey Abbey. This week I visited married monk Simon Jones, his wife Natalie and their four year old son Samuel who have moved to  Ruthin, in Wales' Vale of Clywd and who are learning Welsh.  Simon is a writer/hermit who greets visitors to a shepherds hut two days each week.  He discovers dis-used wells, prays by them, and blessses their chuches. He leads pilgrim trail walks along the Vale of Clywd over which he has written a beautiful prayer which includes these words:

'Land of  healing: may you be able to heal again. Well of Dyffryn Clwyd be re-opened... May many be able to drink from you...May your land be re-dug for a new beginning ... We bless creatives in you to be released ... We bless your pilgrim paths ... your feminity be loved, cherished and cared for ...

Let castle walls disintegrate into playgrounds.

Let churches becomes open doors to diversity.

Let ancient fields of violence become quiet places of prayer.

Let communities be built on love.

We pilgrimed in the Ardal Cenhadaeth (Mission Area). At Llanynys Church, dedicated to Saint Saeran, we learned that this probably started as a 6th century circle of villagers dedicated to Christ at the heart of the Vale.  As deep conversions took place this transformed into a monastery.  Now, an ordained member of the Mission Area is turning old buildings next to the church into a retreat centre. Who knows: could it again become a hub?

My most hospitable B&B host is church warden at St Cynhafal's church at LLangynhafal which her house looks down upon.  This is dedicated to a 7th century monk who founded a small community. It is associated with a nearby holy well that is no longer accessible.  But water from the same local  spring-line comes through the church taps. Pilgrims may be refreshed in body and spirit as they drink or wash in it. The church is a space for children's and creative activities. It has put in good toilets to facilitate pilgrims who walk the trail past it.

Simon believes that usurpers in the world church have made it masculine - thus invaders, such as the English in Wales, emphasise the masculine side.  The feminine side of creativity, love and song has been troddon down, but now that Wales is preparing to rise again, shorn of its colonial impostions, it can become the 'song of the soul of the British and Irish Isles.'

Narrative 2:

After Sunday church at Berwick two friends advised me not to go to Wales in the heat wave, especially as since my heart attack I had not driven more than 30 miles.  I compromised and drove off at 5.30 am to get 5 hours driving before melting took over.  Finding Simon's house took two hours!!  They had said a friend would give me B&B nearby. This turned out to be miles along tiny, unsigned, bumpy winding lanes. 

Next day Simon walked for two hours to me, and guided me as we drove along similar lanes to LLanynys Church.  A  builder covered my car in a sheet to stop the heat harming it. I had to remember these  unsigned directions and drive back, but my memory failed!  

On the penultimate night the car shuddered to a halt in a narrow lane as I drove to the B&B to sleep. The AA said help would come by 11.30pm, then 12.30 am, then 1.30 am. They had employed a breakdown truck driver from Oswestry. Once he pulled my car onto his truck, he said he would drive me to my B&B. But he could not drive his truck up the narrow lane. It was pitch dark. He looked up his Sat Nav, depositied this 82 year old man with a heart condition in a lane, and said 'It's at the top'. After walking ages I knew it was the wrong lane. I walked down and on until I got to the church, and then walked up the long, steep hill to the B&B, feeling another heart attack was imminent, arriving long after 2.0 am.


Next day my host (the church hospitality inspirer) kindly drove me to the Ruthin garage, who had replaced the broken drive shaft but informed me I would need a new gearbox on my return. I gave her a copy of my auto biography, drove on the nearside and had frequent stops.  I am still in my pyjamas and shall return to bed after posting this!!


Posted at 09:34am on 22nd July 2022
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