This article was written for the September issue of our parish magazine.
The theme of our retreat at Parcivall Hall this year was ‘On Holiday with God’. Although God is with us at all times and we do not need to ‘go on holiday with God’, a retreat is the opportunity to put aside time specifically to be with God.
We started by thinking about some of our favourite holidays and what makes a holiday special. We then thought about the difference between a holiday and a retreat. We explored what we might need to pack for a holiday. In contrast, on a retreat, it can be what we bring with us that needs to be unpacked. We all carry burdens and worries of some kind. The first session was about laying aside those burdens.
As on holiday, we visited various scenarios. Some time was spent ‘by the pool’, where we explored the story of the cripple by the pool.
In the next session we ‘climbed a mountain’ (metaphorically speaking) as we explored the transfiguration particularly in terms of listening to God.
On Saturday afternoon we had free time to enjoy the grounds, the rain and each other’s company.
On Saturday evening we went out ‘on the sea in a boat’ and explored Peter walking on water to Jesus.
On Sunday morning we had a session on adventurous activities and risk taking in the light of our own faith journey with God. The story of Ananias taking the risk to heal Paul was reflected upon.
The whole weekend concluded with a service of Holy Communion with a Celtic theme, with reflections on the end of a holiday and coming home.
Obviously, we had the beauty of Parcivall and the lovely food but what was so special was being together again and having the opportunity to deepen and build relationships, to laugh and have fun and to enjoy each other’s company.
It was a step forward towards normality and it was ‘a holiday with God’.
Lord, some of us are risk takers and others of us are safety first people. In your love for us, invite us to extend our horizons. You bring us greater freedom to live with the risks that are part of our growth in you. Build our courage, O God. Calm our nerves and show us the beautiful danger of being your children. May we know that we are safe in you for all eternity. Amen.