Last weekend we were present at a Mind, Body & Spirit event. This took place at Gorton Monastery. 2013 marks a hundred and fifty years since construction began on this site.
That set me thinking about the ways in which the physical spaces we create can connect us with spirit. One way is that they can become a focus for the benefit of the local community. The Franciscans who came to Gorton had a vision of serving the community before the completion of the building, but its presence added something extra to that work.
My understanding of the Franciscans’ approach to spirituality is that it has always been about bringing something of the Divine down to earth. Certain buildings seem to be able to do this, but it’s not just about bricks and mortar, whatever merit they may have in themselves.
I’m reminded of interviews I saw a few months ago when BBC Television Centre closed in west London. The memories that people expressed were less about the building and more about those with whom they worked and what they created together. Gorton Monastery now speaks not just of the vision of the original founders but also of more recent engagement. Various individuals have endeavoured not only to enable this structure to survive but also to create something which could continue to foster vision and strengthen a sense of spirit.