A stable block which had formerly served a large house, by then demolished, was made available to him. It was in rolling Worcestershire countryside, a mile from the nearest road, and in a ruinous state. It had been a beautiful building and was both spacious and quasi-monastic, being built around three sides of a garden - but it was in a severely dilapidated condition, and bitterly cold. Fr William hoped it would become the home of a new monastic community.
For almost twenty years he lived and prayed here, leading a life of silence and contemplation, prayer and work. It was a hard life of poverty and holiness, and those who came to test out their own vocation to a monastic life learned much from him, but always moved on elsewhere. He repaired the building and became well-known as a spiritual director, but his dream of a community died with him in 1937. The future of Glasshampton was thrown into doubt.
Ten years after his death, the Franciscans were invited to use the property. It became the monastery of St Mary at the Cross, the inscription over the entrance reading 'There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother'. The focus is on contemplation; the house is a place of retreat, prayer, stillness, and waiting on God. Fr William's dream has thus been fulfilled. He was faithful to his calling and prepared the way for the community which was to follow, even though he died believing that he had failed in that respect.
Such perseverance is a rare quality, perhaps more so nowadays in a world of consumer choice and the endless search for self-fulfilment. It echoes the faith about which the author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote when reflecting on the lives of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: 'All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them.' It challenges us to live according to what is right, according to God's call to us - and of course that means we have first to learn what is right and to discern that call. Persevering in the life of faith, despite whatever hardships and temptations come our way, and doing so even when we feel ourselves to be failing allows God's grace to be revealed; and although we may never see the fruits of our discipleship in this life, we can be assured that nothing is wasted within the providence of God.
Jesus, good above all other,
Gentle child of gentle mother,
In a stable born our brother:
Give us grace to persevere.