Join us for a week’s retreat in the unique and beautiful setting of Bardsey Island. Bardsey (or Ynys Enlli – the island of tides) lies two miles off the tip of the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, and has been an ancient religious site from the 6th century onwards. In medieval times an Augustinian Abbey there became the end point for thousands making pilgrimages across North Wales and it is said that 20,000 saints are buried on the island. Until a hundred years ago the island had a population of up to 200 and several farms. Now there are only a handful of permanent residents, but many people still make the journey there to stay for a week – some just to relax, some to watch the many and rare birds (the island is a Bird Observatory, National Nature Reserve and SSSI), some to write or paint or make music, and others on pilgrimage or to make a retreat. These days the island is very carefully managed by Ymddiriedolaeth Ynys Enlli/The Bardsey Island Trust.
The early monastic island dwellers believed that nothing was secular because everything was sacred: nothing is outside God’s love and grace. They believed that the presence of God infuses daily life and thus transforms it, so that any moment, any relationship, any object, any job of work, can become an encounter with God. They focussed on the seeking of God who is ‘the one thing necessary’ – the very foundation of life. Our hope is that a week spent on Bardsey in retreat will underscore this foundation in us and help us, once back on the mainland, to refocus our daily lives accordingly.
This structured retreat will be spent mostly in silence to help us engage more deeply with the inherent holiness of the island. There will be shared evening prayer, usually in the 19th century chapel, and one-to-one spiritual accompaniment will be offered in the tradition of St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre. Living a simplified life for a week will connect us to the spirituality of the island - a spirituality earthed in the ordinary, but amid great beauty and (sometimes) quite harsh weather.
The accommodation, though comfortable and hygienic, is fairly basic. The properties are solidly built but there is heating only in the sitting room area, drinking water comes from the island’s spring and is boiled and filtered, personal washing is from a bowl, and the toilets are located in small sheds in the gardens. Vegetarian meals will be provided but catering for complex dietary needs may not be possible, although please ask. You will need to bring plenty of warm and waterproof clothing, and footwear suitable for rough ground. Access to the island involves a fairly steep 15-20 minute walk descending from the car park to Porth Meudwy near Aberdaron before a short open boat crossing of approximately 20 minutes. There is no transport on the island apart from farm vehicles. Retreatants will need a sufficient level of fitness to be able to walk approximately 3/4 mile on a rough track from the landing place to the accommodation, then to meals and chapel during the retreat, as well as to benefit fully from wandering around the island on sloping and uneven paths. For these reasons, please take into account your physical abilities when considering applying for the retreat. The price includes the ferry cost of £55, basic accommodation and all meals.
If you are excited by all this, please make an initial enquiry about this retreat by phoning St Beuno's on 01745 583444 and completing the St Beuno's retreat application form. We are assuming rooms with single occupancy. Please return forms to email@example.com. Once we receive your application we will be in touch with further details to help you decide finally if this is the right retreat for you.