This Is Where I live…
This is my home; the Global Retreat Centre. I say this with great gratitude and a clear and definite humility; and certainly not an air of arrogance. As people look to this majestic house nestled in 55 acres of manicured grounds, there could be a little envy that emerges. With an economic crisis looming upon us in the UK, and by comparison this large house may look rather luxurious and extravagant to live in; to heat; furnish and clean. Well I am here to put any of those thoughts to rest.
The Global Retreat Centre is the residential centre of the Brahma Kumaris, set in the beautiful location of the Oxfordshire countryside. The GRC has been providing residential and One Day Retreats; together with various self-development courses and talks to the local community for over 30 years. In the past 1,000s of people have come and enjoyed the big open air event of Peace in the Park. All the services are offered free of charge and in support of the community.
This historic listed building has seen many different scenes in history. Originally this was the primary home for Earl Harcourt and his family. Built in the late 1750’s when the revival of the Palladian villa style was fashionable, this was a mix of classical Roman and Greek architecture. In the late 1770’s the famous landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was engaged to transform the look of the grounds and gardens of the estate. Nuneham Park has passed through many hands in the family since that time. In 1948 the University of Oxford bought the Nuneham Estate from Lord William Harcourt. The property was used for some years during the war by the Royal Air Force, from 1942 until the late 1950’s for interpretation and training in surveillance photography. For a short while the large mansion became a conference centre for Rothman’s, today Nuneham Park is a base for meditation and silent retreats by the Brahma Kumaris.
The Global Retreat Centre was the brainchild of the Late Dadi Jankiji, who passed away on 27th March, 2020, at the grand old age of 104! I write this today on the third anniversary of Dadi’s passing. Back in the early days in 1993… Dadi Janki had the thought to invite souls to come to GRC and take some personal benefit from this beautiful fountain of peace. Dadi wanted everyone to experience some spiritual upliftment, to tune into something that would bring them closer to themselves, and closer to God. We are thankful to Dadi Janki for her broad and unlimited vision and for creating a place where souls could just ‘be’.
There are 24 permanent residents with a few temporary ones who always come to help. No-one here owns this place. But everyone lives and works as if they do, because the commitment is 200%. Here each one is a child and master. A master when opinions are sought and a child when decisions are made. Each is serving to give to others and not to take, because the nature of giving is in their heart and expressed through their dedication as they daily give their all to support the service here. What does that mean? That means that those who come here can then rest their weary soul and body, by having that time and space to go inside to realign and recalibrate. To charge up their spiritual batteries so to speak.
These dedicated helpers are a mix of males and females, from all walks of life, all ages, all nationalities (French, Polish, Finnish, Indian, (north and south!) UK, German, Greek and so on). Living and working with love and respect in a close spiritual community. We all have different personalities and personal histories. Yet Drama and the Universe have called us to one place of learning, where we can become more resilient as we pass the different test papers of life whilst living in community. Just as everyone knows from living in a family, to live harmoniously we need not only the power to accommodate but many other powers to. At the end of the day we are all spiritual students who understand the inner work needed to pull together and blend with each other, and our intention of the heart is clear and honest.
The Global Retreat Centre, unlike other majestic homes, is as the name suggests for the globe, for everyone. It is not a hotel where one comes to have a vacation. No. Quite the contrary. It is a place where one comes to work deeper and even harder on the soul. This is the place to do the inner work to re-connect to oneself. It is for the serious spiritual student and not the light-hearted. It is a place of study and deeper spiritual reflection. The Global Retreat Centre is open to those who have already embarked on some kind of a spiritual journey, but would like that little extra spiritual vibe, or company, or push to move further forward.
How many times have you heard that in X location a home is being opened up for you? Only so that you can rest your soul? Not often! And if it is you have then you can probably expect a big bill and service charge for the privilege and the pleasure.
After an extensive renovation the Retreat Centre is back up and running. For a retreat centre that does not charge fees and relies solely on donations, where did all that funding come from you may ask? Well, if you don’t know the Brahma Kumaris by now, you will learn quickly that, when the intention is pure and selfless, then help simply arrives in all manner of ways. Souls naturally wish to support people on their spiritual journey, whether they are just putting a foot on the path for the first time, or even if they are a seasoned traveller. Everyone can come and take benefit from this spiritual home. As long as you are open to learning, then you will always find some ‘take away’ from your visit.
The Global Retreat Centre is an oasis of peace… it needs no marketing in fact, and this blog article is meant in no way to imply that. I wrote this piece primarily to exemplify how hard work and perseverance, dedication and sincerity really does pay off, even in times of crisis. The house is blessed and is always in use in some manner or the other. When the time is right, you will also have a chance to experience its divine beauty.
It’s Time… to be open to the possibilities that great things can happen at any time. And help comes when our intention is selfless.