In recent days I have had two very different but linked conversations; one with someone who has just completed an eight day silent retreat based on the Ignatian exercises, and the other with someone who was expressing a wish to spend some time in an ashram exploring a simpler way of life. Both people making a decision to step away from their normal daily life, not as an escape but in order to engage more fully with those matters they see as important for themselves and for those with whom they live and work. Sometimes it is very useful to do something entirely different in order to increase our understanding of the things we do all the time -“stepping outside our comfort zone” so that we can gain a new perspective. Modern technology, mobile phones, tablet computers, mean that often we take all of ordinary life with us all the time and everywhere, and find it increasingly hard to stand back and take a longer view, or even stand close and look at detail.
A small group of people were encouraged to take a very gentle step in this direction on a recent Tuesday morning when we had a chance to try a combination of prayer and painting, or drawing; as someone who has not done anything artistic for many years I found it a real challenge, and quite scary, certainly outside my comfort zone, but once started it was fascinating, absorbing and rewarding.
You will find in this magazine an article about an Open Door retreat which will be held locally later this year – this will provide a wonderful opportunity to experience the benefits of a retreat without needing to go away from home, do have a look and consider if this might be right for you.
with love and prayers