Wilderness Journey Retreat Day

“It was very special to feel the synthesis of wildness, wilderness and the interior journeying into silence which is so much at the heart of what calls me to the christian story.  It touched me to feel the gentleness and warmth and nourishment in the structure and content of the day.  I thank you both for daring to bring all these elements together....It was a joy to feel the freedom and unfurling of spirit with us all at the lakeside”. (Abigail)            

Open Spirit’s first retreat day was held at Debbie’s  house deep in the Devon countryside.  It was a fabulous day of poignant sharing, vibrant discussion, descending deeply through meditation into an extended period of silence. There were 10 of us including 3 canines, who weaved in and out, providing inspiration for at least one of us in her final sharing.
Selkie, one of our canine participants

In our Open Spirit meditation sessions we’ve been studying Rowan William’s book “Silence and Honey Cakes”, which draws on the desert Mothers and Fathers, Ammas and Abbas, a short but  wonderful distillation of four themes central to living the contemplative life: community, personhood, fleeing and staying. Through a spontaneous dialogue, aided by some notes, we dug into these themes together in our first session. Jeanne asked us all to speak about what community meant to each of us, Debbie and Sam dialogued about personhood: the difference between individualism and vocation, and we all shared in the challenge of  “staying with” whatever life is presenting to us at this point in time.

Sam then led us in a guided meditation into the desert to engage with our inner source of Wisdom. Meditation enables us to “drop down” into a place of quiet and rest and from that place we each silently explored the themes that had emerged, through painting, writing, praying, and just being. After a silent lunch some stayed in the house to continue their explorations, and some of us went on a meditation walk to a hidden lake, deep in the woods nearby.  
The wonderful secret lake in the woods

Silence was broken somewhat prematurely by our shouts of laughter and shock, as Abigail stripped off to swim in the lake, followed by Debbie and Sam, bravely but briefly. Yes it was cold!  
Abigail, fresh from her dip in the lake

Back at the house, with tea and cake, we gathered together for our final sharing and ritual. Sam instructed us in the art of lighting a floating candle (easier when you know how!), and as we each shared what insights the day had given us a lovely glow of purple candles floating in a pool of water marked the end of our time together. A very wondrous day, which we plan to repeat 3 more times this year (see website for details).

 Our lovely altar of floating candles


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