Melanie Norcutt is happily recounting the experience of marrying her husband, Ward, on the grounds of Bethlehem Centre 28 years ago. She’s prepping her classroom for a Monday morning with Forest Park Elementary students in Grades 1 & 2 and has just enough time to talk about a full circle experience that brought her back, once again, to the little chapel that welcomed her intimate group of loved ones for that special day in 1993.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in the chapel since getting married,” she says, “but when I was there for a yoga session recently, at a Chakra class, the late afternoon sun was coming in, and it was around the same time of day as our ceremony. You could feel the energy. It really reminds you of your roots.”
Melanie had been completing her Kundalini Yoga teacher training with Jay Sutton Brown, who hosts yoga workshops at Bethlehem Centre, which brought her back to that special day almost 30 years ago.
“Prior to marrying Ward, that’s the chapel where I also went to Mass because I liked the energy,” she explains. “Bethlehem Centre has always been part of my world, so it was an obvious choice for my wedding.”
With the days, and months and years that have passed by the Centre has seen its fair share of seasons. “It’s changed somewhat,” she says, with an easy laugh. “Mostly, the trees back then were so tiny. But it was just as intensely beautiful, with the grounds, the lake, and the views.”
It was Father Kevin Wiseman, now passed, who married Melanie and Ward, as the resident priest at the time. Melanie says he was a friend who was an important and unique person to her in her life. As for the original caretakers of the Centre, Melanie says the Benedictine sister’s presence was as strongly felt then as it is today. “You can still feel their decades of love vibrating through the walls.” This is another reason she felt drawn to the space for her wedding day. “The Centre is just such an inclusive, actively peaceful space,” she explains. “Open to all ages, faiths and spiritual beliefs.”
Melanie raised her own young people, two boys, with her husband, and often the family came together to share time and memories at the Centre. Fast forward to her recent yoga teachers training, Melanie took a few days for a personal retreat, following her Kundalini training she stayed in the suite overlooking the Westwood Lake. “Ward booked it for me,” she says. “He joined me on the last night, and two weeks later he also spent three nights on a writer’s retreat, staying in the same room I had stayed in.” Melanie explains that the time spent there is an immersive Zen experience. “It really allowed me to rest with walking, reading, writing and not concerning myself with anything other than those simple acts. And they take such good care of us, allowing space and time to fully recharge.”
Melanie says she and her husband are considering renewing their vows again at the Centre in two years’ time, for their 30th anniversary, and encourages other couples seeking a spiritual landscape for their special day to consider this sacred space.
“You have everything you need with accommodations and the chefs here,” she pauses, searching for another word to describe the food, besides the fact that it’s delicious. “It’s just so good, so wholesome, and abundant.”
No matter how you end up here, or what your purpose is when you arrive, this is a place where you can take the space you need to breathe, live in the moment, and find your center. “It’s a place to be,” she says, simply.
Interested in learning more about how Bethlehem Centre can make your wedding ceremony dreams or personal retreat a reality? Contact us to find out more.