I have ancestral roots in the Manchester area – my grandfather was born in Salford. My late husband Peter Dobson, grew up in Tiddlesley/Staley Bridge area of greater Manchester. Also in the early 1980’s I travelled frequently through this area as Peter visited the suppliers to the vehicle testing facilities he was project managing for British Leyland in the Midlands. So perhaps that is why I felt a strange familiarity in returning to this area?
But nothing could have prepared me for the encounter with a Gothic cathedral in the midst of an old industrial area of Manchester – Gorton – once the capital of train locomotive manufacture?
As we drove up from the south-east – there before me was the former Monastery erected by the Franciscans in the mid 1800’s – to serve a growing and thriving congregation of workers located in the heartland of the industrial revolution.
No longer maintaining its attached friary, the body of the cathedral rises 3-4 stories above the cloisters that still remain – as quiet sanctuary from the busy world – formed with sacred geometry around the Apse power point used to survey and measure the building of the monastery itself.
Inside, the scale of the nave with its towering columns and 12 saints (restored from almost demolition when they had been saved from auction as mere garden statues) provides a breathtaking space that leads to the stained glass framed altar that was in use as recently as the 1950’s and -60’s.
But as the friary was decommissioned, the building was vandalized, damaged and all valuables stolen.
If the monastery could be viewed as a symbol of the Earth herself, the damage done to it can signify how humans have damaged the planet.
As one contemplates in the Gorton Monastery, the history of the Francisan Order, and its apparent close association with the Knights Templar (carved into many stone faces) one senses that one is passing through a Field of Ancestors – full of Kings, Councillors, murderers and alleged witches (rememberd by their burnings).
With this sacred site memorializing a history so full of trauma, it is no wonder that one is lead to contemplate the need for the human energy Field for cleansing, clearing and purifying in every human habitat and bio-region.
I see on the Altar a painting by Alison Knox: Angel on the Altar.
My friend Sue Cooper (who is also an Integral City Beyond Resilient Grad) places a second Knox painting that she has brought along as our “angelic company” – “The Gathering of the Graceful Warriors”. (See image and listen to the poem here.)
After our brief introduction to the Altar, Gill Harbach led us to the centre of the nave where we experienced a daily ritual in the monastery – an hour of “Sacred Silence”.
Then Gill Harbach, Sacred Landscape/Site Expert gave us a tour of the Monastery, its deep history from the story of Francis of Assissi to the creation of the Franciscan Order, exploring their connections to the Knights Templar – showing all the symbols carved into the building.
Sue Cooper has been invited to co-create a monthly event based on the experience of individual self care and community vibrant well-being deeply linked to her work as initiator of, deeply liked to her work as initator of Moments of Mass Mindfullness (MOMM).
Now we are curious how these links of the Monastery and MOMM connect to the callings of Integral City Meshworks and the newly emerging Living Cities Earth.
Perhaps it is the Archeons, The Graceful Warriors or other invisible realms who are calling us to gather for a higher purpose?
I am listening for direction … and the first direction I received related to the Ancestors – calling us to do the work of Systemic Constellations so that Right Order, Belonging and Systemic Balance can be aligned for right relationship with Mother Earth.
But I must admit I am pondering whether this is the End of our Route – or just the beginning?