My name is Margaret McCarthy, I’m a meditator from Wicklow Town in Ireland. I set off in Easter last year on my journey to Bonnevaux. It was a dream that I had for some time and when I set off last year, I suppose I had two broad ambitions.
The first one was kind of very obvious: one of strengthening and being more consistent in my practice and Bonnevaux is an ideal place because there are regular practice sessions, not overwhelming, and there are basic ones that you go to.
But it’s a very, very comfortable place to try meditation, even if you’re doing it for the very first time. And the people there are so encouraging, there’s no hierarchy, to speak of. It’s just an atmosphere of support and love.
to try meditation, even if you're doing it
for the very first time.
It's an atmosphere of support and love.
My second hope was that my heart would open a bit more because I had discovered quite late in the day, admittedly, that I was very distrustful of myself and all other human beings and of God. So that was my hope.
to Jesus' experience of the torture and
the mockery and the death and
suffering and followed by the resurrection itself.
And, the week passed quickly, being the special days that they were there from Palm Sunday. It was a feeling of being in a very special place, the familiarity of Easter week itself. But everything, in a sense, was new and feeling very close to Jesus’ experience of the torture and the mockery and the death and suffering and followed by the resurrection itself.
When I came back, I can’t tell you that everything was changed and that automatically I started being a first class meditator. That would be rather silly. There was a definite improvement, but there were still challenges, of course. And at times I would have again kind of wondered: ‘What am I? Why am I doing this? What’s it all about?‘ Finding it tiresome, setting it aside and putting it away for a few days and then picking it back up again…
Because I thought it was really, really too precious to lose this time. And so life trundled on and it became more consistent. I’m still struggling some days to fit the meditation practice or I’m being too tired (the usual excuses), but definitely an improvement.
But what I wanted to tell you in relation to my experience of Bonnevaux and afterwards, is at the beginning of this year, quite early January, there were a few things that happened in my life. They were not very nice things, and they all came unexpectedly and they all came together. In Hamlet there is this idea that ‘when sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions’, and that’s the way life is, really. So I felt very broken, very dejected, very, very negative and sad and all those things. And what happened then that amazed me was that in a day or two, all this negativity and despondency just vanished. It was like everything was healed…Very, very amazing.
And I had a great feeling of the things that Father Laurence talks about. Like the idea of the fruit of meditation, spaciousness, a freedom and also being less needy and also, I think, from leaving the self behind, that whole experience of seeing the mantra, leaving the self behind and that space that’s given. And as a result, I felt completely healed and looked at life a bit differently, having a set of priorities that were slightly altered and it was just really, I have to say, remarkable.
Join us for Holy Week Retreat this Easter, from Bonnevaux, from Saturday 23 to Sunday 31 March, led by Father Laurence Freeman.
If you’d like to share how meditation has impacted your life, share your story of change with us.