‘I felt Jesus lifting me up from slipping at the boat and I felt his presence and companionship at the well. The daily meeting with my prayer guide was so helpful in articulating my feelings and prayers’ and ‘It has changed my life. I began the week so angry and now I just feel at peace’, were some of the comments from participants in a recent Retreat in Daily Life at St Anne’s, Newtown.
My week began with an extremely full diary and I was wondering why I had signed up to be a part of the retreat when I couldn’t see how I could fit it in and do justice to the process.
I should have had more faith, because I know that whenever God calls the way opens up.
So, as I was putting 27 chairs in a circle around the sole working heater for the closing group session, I wondered if the others in our community had had as rewarding and uplifting a week as I had had.
I was amazed at the deep feeling expressed and, as each person spoke, I could feel a beat, a rhythm of discovery and joy that can really come only from time deliberately spent with God and shared with others.
One first-time retreatant said she was glad of the opportunity which had made her prayer time more meaningful.
Flora said the retreat was time we set aside for God – ‘an inner reflection to help us pray, and to hear God speaking to us, especially through the scripture.’
Johnnie said, ‘the retreat took me on a journey with the Lord – where I was and what I was doing opened me up from within. I felt as though I was interwoven with the scriptures, the Lord’s life stitched into my own. I felt a deep gentleness and a touch of excitement at what would happen the next day. It’s good to be able to stop and breathe in the Lord and expel tension and stress.’
People new to the process who were a bit diffident were, by the end, beaming and sharing how they had found time for prayer and for themselves.
Heidi said ‘I felt that I was being called (rather loudly, I might add!) to attend the retreat in daily life. Although I have many blessings in my life, including a wonderful family, my daily life often feels rather frantic with little time for prayer and reflection. And so I was hoping that, by attending the retreat, I would regain a stillness in my life and deepen my personal relationship with Jesus. I was amazed to find that I caught a tiny glimmer of the stillness I was looking for in the group session on the first night. I also remember someone saying the words, “Take heart, I am with you” which came through my reading. As I prayed about a particular passage, I imagined myself to be Simon, exhausted after a long night of unsuccessful fishing. Jesus asked me to take him out fishing. I rolled my eyes and told him it was pointless, but at his insistence, we rowed out together, and to my surprise we caught a massive amount of fish! My first reaction was to say rather angrily, “Why weren’t you with me last night? We could have caught so many fish!” And Jesus looked at me lovingly and said, “But I was with you.” This reminded me that Jesus would be walking with me on the retreat, just as he does every moment of my busy life.’
I myself am grateful that our community has had this opportunity and I feel sure that the heart of our community is strengthened if each of us can continue to set aside time each day to listen to God.
Karen Holland is lay pastoral leader in St Anne’s, Newtown.