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Monday 8th April 2019
A group from Journeying set out for a short holiday in the Brecon Beacons In Wales. John Muir, the founder of the National Parks movement in the US, once said: "Keep close to Nature's heart and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." This is what we did, camping in the heart of this beautiful national park.
The holiday had spectacular mountain scenery, waterfalls and secluded wooded valleys and the Holy Spirit was the theme. We followed the spiritual significance of water from the springs and lakes in the mountains down the fast owing streams to the famous waterfall country, which has the largest concentration of waterfalls anywhere in the UK.
We got out into the wild on our first day stopping to reflect beside a waterfall. Huw - the flying vicar - arrived on his motorbike ready to cook paella and soon had a glass of red wine in hand.
The next day rained and rained, so where better to go than to a waterfall you can walk behind where it doesn't matter if you get wet. A strange almost mystical wind blew behind the waterfall. It reminded us of what John of the Cross said in which the soul can become united to God and transformed in him, by drawing from within God a divine breath. When the rain finally subsided we climbed up to Llyn y Fan Fawr, where there was a panoramic view for miles across the highest peaks in southern Britain.
Our final day took us to Henrhyd waterfall. All the rain over the past few days made the flow incredibly powerful and loud. An apt end to a holiday all about water and the power of the Holy Spirit. "Let anyone who is thirsty come and drink the water of life, a free gift for those who desire it."
We were on a Journey toward contemplation. This is not self-centred navel gazing. Rather, as Thomas Merton puts it: "Contemplation is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is a vivid realisation of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible transcendent and infinitely abundant source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that source. It goes beyond reason and beyond simple faith." Following water from its source in the mountains was a fitting metaphor, and the trainee contemplatives went home wet but closer to God.