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Retreats and quiet days

The concept of retreat gives a chance to step outside the normal routine of life, making space for an encounter with God away from the usual distractions and pressures.

Sometimes daily devotionsBible study or prayer activities can be enough to help people escape the everyday and spend some quality time with God. At others, though, attending a specific event or setting aside a day or time for retreat or quiet can be particularly useful.

The items shared through this page will help you to explore retreat and quiet day possibilities, encouraging you to try something new as you seek to deepen your sense of spirituality and, in so doing, your relationship with God.

Some suggestions to get you started will be posted here soon.

Barry Hutchinson

when isMy usual experience of retreat is to have lots of ‘empty’ space for prayer and personal reflection in a quiet, sedentary place, though there may be opportunity for some gentle meditative walking. There is usually some teaching on Christian spirituality and personal growth with the accompaniment of a guide. There will be opportunity for daily worship, prayer and sacrament with some time spent alone, some shared silence, perhaps even non-speaking meal times with contemplative music. There will be opportunity in the quiet, steady rhythm of the day to confront personal weaknesses and insecurities as well as to identify more clearly strengths and gifts and graces. This has been, for me, the way to listen for the active, comforting and commissioning Word of God.

Read more: When is a retreat not a retreat?

By Barry Hutchinson

beinglovedI began my training for ministry in an Anglican college. All of the Church of England candidates had a six day retreat before ordination, isolated from world, friends and families. Some of them weren’t very happy about it, especially those with children, but it seemed to me to be a proper and deeply spiritual way to prepare for ordination. The URC doesn’t arrange a pre-ordination retreat (though it should!), preferring instead to organise a leavers’ conference which at that time was almost totally practical covering such topics as stipends, conditions of service, sickness, pensions and Retired Minister’s Housing Scheme etc. All this has been very useful over the years but not attending a pre-ordination retreat felt to be a bit of a deprivation so I found myself my first Spiritual Director to guide me through my final six months of freedom.

Read more: Being loved

By Mike Playdon

gentleIt was, I think, my first ever Quiet Day, some 20 years ago it must have been. The format was one I’ve come to see as being fairly typical, with some input from a speaker followed by times of silence, and worship to top and tail. I certainly don’t remember the topic of the day. I recall, however, that we were invited to ponder a Scripture passage during the ensuing silence. This was not something I was very used to, but along with others I walked the lanes and paths in the vicinity of the priory where we were meeting and tried to do just that. I found my thoughts jumping around all over the place. I kept telling myself that I needed to get back to the Scripture passage, but succeeded only in feeling that I just couldn’t hack it. I just couldn’t do what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I then walked round a corner in the grounds and saw one of the group sitting on a swing, just swinging back and forth. He later told me that he made a point of doing that every time he visited the priory. The penny dropped. I didn’t have to worry about getting the meditation right. I simply needed to relax, let go, just to be...

Read more: A gentle way in...

By Kathryn Price

pearlsThe ‘Pearls of Life’ form an ecumenical rosary that comes from Lund in Sweden.

They were created to be an aid for all Christians to deepen their journey with God. The beads are in a circle and, in times of prayer and reflection, you work your way around each pearl, starting and finishing with the same pearl, namely the large gold bead which symbolizes God, who is our beginning, our end and everything beyond. The rosary contains different coloured beads which signify identity, baptism, the desert, serenity, silence, love, mystery, night and resurrection.

Read more: Pearls of Life

Sheila Maxey

advenbturesAt the end of May 2011, ten of us arrived at the Windermere centre for a course under the wider Windermere umbrella of ‘Adventures in Faith’ but with the specific title ‘Spiritual Direction’. At the beginning there was uneasiness about the words ‘Spiritual Direction’. They are not Reformed, too hierarchical, individualistic…The list went on.

We came with diverse expectations and needs: some had come because they were already formally or informally giving individual spiritual guidance and were pleased (and surprised) to be able to share and learn more in a URC setting. Some came because they had experienced spiritual direction (usually from an Anglican or Roman Catholic) and wanted to explore it in a URC context. Some came in personal need of such guidance. The group included an Anglican, a Methodist and a Congregationalist.

Read more: Adventures in faith
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