Thu 30 April 2015
Reproduced anonymously with permission ...
"I came to Sheldon to stay for quite a number of months, staying partly as a guest and partly later as an Alongsider, doing some work for the Community as part of my routine here.
I came at a time of major transition in my life, and a time of great uncertainty as to my future. It was something of a time of crisis, with all the attendant emotions that upheavals in our lives inevitably stir within us.
In this time Sheldon has been for me what I would call a very special “holding” place. Whatever has been going on in my life during this time of uncertainty, whether within or without, Sheldon has held me in ways that have been strong, gentle and consistently caring – and for this I am profoundly grateful.
First, there has been simply the beauty of the setting – in the Teign Valley, with its wonderful undulating hills, speckled with cattle and sheep in the distance, and the peaceful ancient parish churches, a reminder that people have long sought for and worshipped God in this valley. Then there is the beauty of Sheldon itself. The accommodation throughout is immaculately kept, and cared for with an obvious eye for detail. There are three chapels, the medieval one giving a sense of history and mystery, the main modern one, where most of the weekly pattern of worship of the Sheldon Community and guests happens, and even a much smaller one, giving a sense of intimacy and the nearness of God. I stayed in a Hen Run – everything I could have wanted in terms of self-contained accommodation for one. And a view that will long, long remain in my memory, as I often gazed out of the French window at the changing scene before my eyes as season progressed to season. And the delight of the birds regularly coming to the feeder at my window. Those birds were like friends in a companionable landscape.
God can speak to us through place – and in a myriad other ways. And of course God speaks to us through people.
The five people who make up the Community at Sheldon are the backbone of this special place. Their commitment to the place and to each other and their sheer hard work and efficiency means that Sheldon hums along and there is a strong expectation that guests’ needs will be met in appropriate and helpful ways.
It is hard to be consistent and unflappable 365 days a year. What has perhaps impressed me the most about the Sheldon Community is their consistency of response day in , day out. I have certainly had my not so good days here in terms of my uncertain situation – but it doesn’t really seem to have mattered in that the responses I have received have been solid, assuring, consistent, helpful, caring. And there has also been some sound, professional accompaniment.
And the staff who come here to work are great. Always cheerful, helpful, and obviously enjoying their work here and this place that enables them to function as a life-giving team.
As I prepare to leave – and knowing there still lies uncertainty ahead, nevertheless I am in a different place within from when I came – a stronger, deeper place – and Sheldon has enabled that inner growth to happen.
With special thanks to all those who have been around for me, whether directly or in quiet, hidden ways, in these recent transitional months.