Recommended Retreats

RublevRublev Shipmate
edited April 4 in Ecclesiantics
What are the top recommendations on the ship for good places to go on a retreat?

I can recommend Ampleforth Abbey near York. You can join in the Daily offices with the monastic community, you can attend preached retreats led by the monks, you can go on walks in the countryside. Their 2019 retreat programme includes a variety of different ideas (Quiet Days, Biblical themes, meditation, icons, lectio divina).
And they have a great bookshop and tearoom there. It's a good place just to visit for a peaceful day out.
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Comments

  • St Beuno's. I've only been on one retreat so have nothing to compare it with. Thoroughly recommend it though.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited April 4
    I believe you can do retreats at the Quaker theological college at Woodbrooke (in Birmingham) I’ve been on a course there rather than a retreat - but it is a beautiful setting and I enjoyed worship there.

    (Also it is next to a visitable chocolate factory !)
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    The Sisters of the Love of God in Oxford. A short bus ride or a walk from Oxford station, right in the middle of East Oxford but so quiet and peaceful. If you go in spring while their orchard is in bloom it is very beautiful and smells amazing. A really good option for those reliant on public transport.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I think most monasteries and convents have facilities for people to come for a retreat. It's going to depend what sort of retreat you want - rather than there being top retreats, it's more about what kind of thing you are looking for. Whether you want a day retreat, or a longer retreat, where you are staying overnight, for instance. And whether you want a retreat with talks to attend, or a guided retreat, or a retreat with no input, just quiet. There are retreat places (like St Beuno's) that specifically do guided retreats, where you get a guide who you talk to each day for half an hour or so. There are also places, often convents and monasteries, where you just go for quiet, no spiritual guide, though often they have the option that you can ask to speak to a monk or nun.

    Some are in silence, and you have facilities in your room to make meals, and others you have meals made for you by the nuns, and you sit with other retreatants and chat to them. Or maybe you sit with other retreatants in silence.

    With convents and monasteries, they generally do daily offices as well as Mass, and you can attend, but it's not always in the same part of the chapel as the nuns/monks. For instance, Fairacres convent (the Sisters of the Love of God mentioned by Pomona) has a separate side chapel for guests, and you are requested not to join in the singing and chanting because of the acoustics. Whereas with others you are in the same chapel as the nuns/monks and join in. The chapels can vary a lot, and people can prefer a certain place because of its chapel, or the way the offices are done. Or because of the outdoors surroundings - some places have lovely gardens, kept beautiful by a gardener, while others are simpler, or might have lots of countryside around them.

    I prefer places in the countryside, and I like when they have gardens too, and I like spacious chapels with lots of natural lighting. My favourite chapel out of the places I've been is the one at Tymawr convent in Wales, and I liked the gardens and countryside there too. But not possible to get there by public transport, I don't think - I had a lift there. Fairacres is very accessible by public transport, like Pomona said, and also you can walk into the city centre, so you don't feel cut off - you can pop out to the shops if you want, or to a pub or coffee shop. So all these sorts of things you have to weigh up, depending what your needs are, what is important to you, etc. Also, if you go by public transport, it can take a long time and the whole travel process can be tiring and overwhelming, and so you might find it better to go on a longer retreat, for a few days, so you have chance to unwind and relax. I wouldn't go on a day retreat unless it was somewhere up the road from me, that I could walk to, or take a quick bus ride to.

    I do like the idea of doing a retreat at a Quaker theological college next to a chocolate factory!
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    Woodbrooke is good although I have never actually retreated there. I have:
    • been to a study day set up by my supervisor
    • stayed overnight for work
    • had vivas there
  • Curiosity killedCuriosity killed Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    I used to love Hillfield Friary, a Franciscan Friary in Dorset, but it's not very accessible by public transport.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited April 4
    Jengie Jon wrote: »
    Woodbrooke is good although I have never actually retreated there. I have:
    • been to a study day set up by my supervisor
    • stayed overnight for work
    • had vivas there
    What are vivas, could I ask?

  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    First and second PhD ones. I failed my first but had permission to resubmit which I passed with no corrections.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Jengie Jon wrote: »
    First and second PhD ones.
    Ah, thanks. I'm guessing that's more or less what I usually hear referred to as oral exams ("orals") or as defending one's dissertation/doctoral defense on this side of the Atlantic.

  • I've stayed at Woodbrooke twice for a residential meeting for an editorial group I'm involved with and also as a day visitor.

    It's ok, but not perfect - I won't embarrass them by pointing out a particular problem and to be fair, the person who experienced that has stayed there since. The food is good and there's a good atmosphere there in an understated Quaker type of way but it lacks a certain 'something' that you get in more Catholic-y places - a sense of mystery perhaps? A lack of tat?

    That's no disrespect to the Friends, I hasten to add.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    Thank you Fineline - I could not remember the name of Fairacres at all, just the sisters!

    Personally I enjoy Greater Silence and having silent meals - when I've been to convents where there has been talking at meals, for some reason I don't enjoy it as much. I think for me Fairacres hits a sweet spot of being cloistered (and it really is quiet inside the convent walls) but within a city (and the sisters do not provide catering on Saturdays so you must find your own lunch then anyway - so I have a wander along the Cowley Road), and so much easier to access than many.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Gamma, I guess that's another aspect to think about when selecting a retreat - being aware of your own church traditions and worship preferences, and if/how the religious tradition of the retreat differs from these, and if it may pose a problem. I imagine some Quakers might have similar issues with those 'more Catholic-y places' - for some, the tat may detract from the sense of mystery, for instance.

    Also, widening it out a bit, there are some Christians who would have no problem going on a Buddhist retreat, and might find it helpful, but for others it would be a no-no, or they might go and have lots of reservations about it.
  • My brother sometimes goes on Buddhist retreats (as did our late Ma), though he wouldn't identify himself as either Buddhist or Christian, AFAIK.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    I have enjoyed retreats with the Franciscan brothers at Alnmouth, accessible by rail if you can manage a walk of about a mile (or take a taxi), and with the sisters of the OHP community at Sleights near Whitby. I went there by car.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    The Old Parsonage Freeland is run by the Order of St Clare which is Anglican. Lovely grounds, good food and left much to your own devices. It was train to Oxford and bus to the door. Please note if you ask to come on retreat the sisters will expect you to be silent and provide meals for your room. Saying you have come for silence or to rest will mean that you are expected to have meals in the dining room with other guests, though the Sisters will check when you arrive.
  • fineline wrote: »
    Gamma, I guess that's another aspect to think about when selecting a retreat - being aware of your own church traditions and worship preferences, and if/how the religious tradition of the retreat differs from these, and if it may pose a problem. I imagine some Quakers might have similar issues with those 'more Catholic-y places' - for some, the tat may detract from the sense of mystery, for instance.

    Also, widening it out a bit, there are some Christians who would have no problem going on a Buddhist retreat, and might find it helpful, but for others it would be a no-no, or they might go and have lots of reservations about it.

    Sure, but some of the Quakers I know quite like visiting other groups and experiencing their worship and they tend to take the tat in context even though they don't go in for it in their own settings.

    I remember reading an article by an evangelical minister in a now defunct broadly evangelical periodical. It was at a time when retreats were becoming de rigeur in evangelical circles. He went to a monastery and was shocked to find tat and the invocation of Mary and the Saints. The article was entitled, 'I'm An Evangelical, Get Me Out Of Here!'

    All very amusing, yet I couldn't help thinking, 'Well, what did you expect? When in Rome ...'

    But yes, your point is well made.

    I chose St Beuno's because I'd heard good reports, I'd previously dipped my toe into Ignatian exercises and I wanted something more Catholic than what's available on my doorstep.

    As it turned out, I was surprised at how 'Protestant' the Masses there felt, certainly in terms of hymnody.

    But yes, I think it's wise to do one's homework before going on a retreat. I'm sure there are some RC places that would be too high-octane for me, for instance, and some Protestant retreat centres (naming no names) that would be too charismatic for my tastes these days.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Gamma, yes, definitely, some will like visiting different religious settings with different traditions - that's why I said 'some' might have issues. And similarly, while you seem to have had issues with the Quaker place, there will no doubt be some of similar background to you who find it enjoyable and refreshing. That was my point - that your experiences are yours, and won't necessarily be everyone else's. I guess it's also about knowing yourself and how much difference you are ready/willing to embrace.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    There's definitely even a lot of variation amongst Anglican religious houses - I think people expect them to be much more Catholic than they sometimes are. In my (limited) experience the Apostolic orders are much more MOTR than one might expect.
  • ExclamationMarkExclamationMark Shipmate
    edited April 5
    The Sheldon Community (Society of Mary & Martha) . Quiet and rural and lots of options. https://www.sheldon.uk.com
  • fineline wrote: »
    Gamma, yes, definitely, some will like visiting different religious settings with different traditions - that's why I said 'some' might have issues. And similarly, while you seem to have had issues with the Quaker place, there will no doubt be some of similar background to you who find it enjoyable and refreshing. That was my point - that your experiences are yours, and won't necessarily be everyone else's. I guess it's also about knowing yourself and how much difference you are ready/willing to embrace.

    Sure. My reservations or 'issues' about the Quaker place probably look starker in cold text than they actually are in real life. As a venue and as people the whole set-up is positive, inclusive and benign.

    There were aspects of St Beuno's that raised my eyebrows a bit, but I went with it. With the Quaker place I wasn't there on retreat so it's not a direct comparison.

    I can pretty much take anything and everything these days apart from full-on charismatic stuff because I've been there, done that ...

    Someone mentioned the OHP house near Whitby. A Baptist church I belonged to 'up north' used to go there for its annual church weekend away. We were there over the Palm Sunday weekend once and my kids, who were tiny then, were giggling at the nuns in their bright red gear as they prepared to follow the priest in procession to the chapel.

    I found myself yearning to abandon our Baptist meeting that morning and join them, a feeling that intensified when one of the young women there started rolling around on the floor and making a spectacle of herself.

    It was a mildly charismatic Baptist setting and such behaviour was rare, but even so ...

    A few of us would slip quietly into the chapel from time to time while the nuns chanted the Psalms. I liked it there and we were always made very welcome.
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    I'm surprised that nobody has yet mentioned the annual Retreats guide published by the (ecumenical) Retreat Association (and available online at www.retreats.org.uk). It is a comprehensive guide to centres all over the UK (and some in other countries including Ireland, Spain, Scandinavia and Nigeria). It gives a basic description of the flavour of the house concerned and the facilities. However it doesn't flag up which places are easily reached by public transport: you have to do your own research for this.

    As most people have already said, it depends what you are looking for. Many (especially Anglican) retreat houses have diversified into taking bookings for business conferences and the like, or are geared up mainly for organised parish groups, and so the atmosphere may not be intimate or 'prayerful' enough for a personal retreat time. Conversely, religious communities offer the support of regular worship and a prayerful atmosphere but sometimes have less than luxurious accommodation (ensuite rooms can be hard to find). Though that means they are usually less expensive.

    Church affiliation means less than it would in the case of finding a church for regular worship. Some places are Roman or Anglo-Catholic by origin; others describe themselves as Evangelical or Quaker. But because they are all dedicated to prayer and reflection on the presence of God in our lives, the things that divide are less obvious. Many RC places are happy to welcome non-catholics to communion, even if that means they are skating on the thin ice of Vatican regulations. 'Tat' is rarely found.

    Of the specific places mentioned, I would endorse St Beuno's. It is in a beautiful setting; it is dedicated to spirituality, and silence rules (but not in a forbidding sense). I'm not sure how easy it is to book in for an odd day or so; the programme is mainly devoted to Ignatian style individually guided retreats of eight days or longer, though weekend retreats are available too. It's not easy to reach by public transport although you can get a taxi from Rhyl station (and, with planning, share one to cut costs).

    Another place I would recommend is the Anglican Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield in West Yorkshire. Rooms are small but comfortable (though not ensuite); you eat with the Brothers in their refectory and can share in their worship just as much or as little as you want. A frequent bus service stops right outside the door. Their beautiful church has been re-ordered recently and is serene in its austerity.
  • PuzzlerPuzzler Shipmate
    Launde Abbey in rural Leicestershire has various retreats, conferences etc.
    MOR C of E .
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Two places to consider if you're looking for some spiritual space for reflection are Alton Abbey, which is near Alton in Hampshire and Mucknell Abbey between Worcester and Pershore. Although Alton is a men's order, I think either men or women can stay there. Mucknell Abbey is a co-ed one. Both are easy to get to by car. I'm fairly sure Mucknell is on a bus route.

    Both are CofE and Benedictine tradition.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Pomona wrote: »
    There's definitely even a lot of variation amongst Anglican religious houses - I think people expect them to be much more Catholic than they sometimes are. In my (limited) experience the Apostolic orders are much more MOTR than one might expect.

    What is MOTR?

  • MOTR or MoTR. Middle Of The Road.

    It's often used as an acronym here aboard Ship.
  • NenyaNenya Shipmate
    I've done some lovely courses and retreats at The Ammerdown Centre near Bath. All sorts of things in the programme and you can go there for personal space as well. Its origins are Christian but it caters for all faiths and none. I didn't get there at all last year, must get there in 2019.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    I've been on several retreats to Turvey Abbey that I really enjoyed, but looking at their website it seems they might have scaled those back.
    I'm a fan of St Beuno's too, and all being well am off on a retreat there this summer.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    I understand why things are how they are, but I feel like spiritual retreat (and its cousin pilgrimage) are the least accessible to the people who need it the most. I am the first to say that I have no solutions there beyond perhaps turning unused urban churches into retreat centres, with payment made on a sliding scale. But cars are expensive to run and the lower your income the less likely you are to own one (not least because those unable to drive due to disability have a high likelihood of living in poverty).

    Has anyone got any experience of retreats in a big city aside from those mentioned?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited April 6
    The Royal Foundation of St Katherine in London runs residential retreats and holds Open Reflective days for £20 on the second Monday of each month. Highly recommended.

    Take the tube to Bank and then the Docklands Light Railway to Limehouse station. The retreat centre is nearby.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    It’s over 20 years since I was in London, but when there I valued a couple of retreats with the Anglican Benedictine Sisters of Mary at the Cross at Edgware Abbey. At that time they were very much in the Catholic tradition in the Church of England (Roman Missal, full vestments etc.). I don’t know what their position is on women priests - still very much a ‘new thing’ when I knew them.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited April 6
    Pomona wrote: »
    I understand why things are how they are, but I feel like spiritual retreat (and its cousin pilgrimage) are the least accessible to the people who need it the most. I am the first to say that I have no solutions there beyond perhaps turning unused urban churches into retreat centres, with payment made on a sliding scale. But cars are expensive to run and the lower your income the less likely you are to own one (not least because those unable to drive due to disability have a high likelihood of living in poverty).

    Has anyone got any experience of retreats in a big city aside from those mentioned?

    An interesting point.

    Our Place has a large, warm-ish, peaceful, prayer-filled church, ideal for quiet services/reflections etc., whether using the whole space, or (for smaller gatherings) one of our chapels. We also have (if booked beforehand, cuz it is in local demand) a Hall with kitchen/dining facilities, plus the ever-useful WCs.

    See where I'm going with this? A not entirely unsuitable venue for Day Retreats/Quiet Days in a very urban/UPA setting.....and I reckon our PCC would not be averse to charging very low £££ for deserving groups.....

  • I walked to St Beuno's from Prestatyn along the Offa's Dyke Path, not an option open to everyone, of course. I returned to the station the same way.

    The last time I went to a conference at Cuddesdon I walked from the nearest bus route. It was two miles, which would be beyond people with mobility difficulties.

    I think urban retreat centres with budget rates and proximity to public transport would be a great idea.
  • I've been on writing retreats where the organisers have collected people from various train stations. That seems a good arrangement.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    What was the structure of the writing retreat? I've never done one of those but it sounds a nice idea.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    BF, sounds like a great idea. The Sisters of Bethany in Portsmouth are a 'mixed' semi-Apostolic (a silly term really) order in an UPA and have a lot of day and half day retreats - I'm sure they would be delighted to offer more practical advice if needed. Personally I dream of turning unloved and unlovely estate pubs into similar (with estate residents having first pick).

    I personally would love to see the *other* Marian centres of pilgrimage in the UK fulfil this role also, especially Doncaster (whatever your stance on Walsingham is, it's also quite hard to get to!). Democratizing access to spiritual sustenance should be a priority....at the moment it's a niche little break for ablebodied middle class people. I fear that the kind of gear and 'roughing it' fetishism you see in outdoor activities is infecting pilgrimage as a concept. Pilgrimages do not have to be done on foot or take a long journey - the interior journey matters more and a pilgrimage of say, Leeds to Doncaster by train can still be a pilgrimage.
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    I agree with Pomona that urban retreat centres are desperately needed. I'd like to see 'fresh expressions' (is that now an outmoded term?) in the way we use our many vast Victorian church buildings: not just trying to cram them with worshippers or turn them into community centres (both of which have their uses), but as sacred spaces that could be kept open (and warm!) as often as possible, with rooms for spiritual direction and small groups to meet, and a regular programme of retreats and quiet days. They often come with attached and redundant vicarages; surely at least one of these in every diocese could be used for low-cost residential retreats? I feel a letter to the bishop coming on!
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Pomona, yes, I do find people I've observed who go on retreat seem to be largely upper middle class people. With St Beuno's, you can apply for a bursary to help with the cost of the retreat, if you are on a low income, and also, as there are set dates for retreats, you can share a taxi from the train station with other retreatants, so then you share the taxi cost. And there is a taxi back to the train station that is paid for, if you are okay with going at the time it leaves. Those are residential retreats, but they also have Jesuit centres in London and Glasgow, for retreats and courses which are not residential. See here, and the website has resources you can use at home.

    As for unstructured retreats at convents, the Anglican convents and monasteries in the UK seem to all know each other, so it's very easy to ask at one convent and find out about others. Or look in their directory. Here is an online list. The websites generally will say if they offer retreats, and might have a 'how to find us' section, with instructions about public transport, or at least contact details so you could contact them to find out.

    Some monastic orders, like Benedictines, have a focus on hospitality. My experience of visiting convents is a bit different, as it's in the context of discerning a vocation, so the nuns often meet me at the station, and my experience is quite different from those going on retreat. But I have got more of an understanding of the whole retreat culture through it. If I wanted to go for a retreat at a convent or monastery in a city, I would google for monasteries in that city, and see which had retreats, and look at prices - also whether it's a set price or donations based on what you can afford. I know this is not the same as having a particular one recommended, but I would be confident doing this now I've visited various convents, whereas previously it wouldn't have occurred to me that this was a possibility. There are actually several convents in both Oxford and York (as these cities have been mentioned) and London too, of course, and I'm sure plenty of other cities.

    Just generally, if you have a disability, you may be able to get a disabled railcard. And also if you book train tickets in advance, and experiment splitting the train journey up, you can sometimes get the train journey at a fraction of the regular price. You can use the split ticketting site, or you may get it even cheaper if you make the journey go a different route to the same end.
  • ThunderBunkThunderBunk Shipmate
    My problem with urban retreats is that rural peace, preferably with hills, seems to be essential to my refreshment. As to my class, middle by education, but barely by income, being well below the apparent current median. Not that I'm sure how relevant that is: retreats won't ever cater for people who don't want to go. I appreciate that there are cultural issues, but this is the same double bind as the whole education = privilege conundrum. Education = effort, finding out about retreats = effort; going on retreat = effort (effort is fine; impossibility isn't). Can't be arsed = no effort. I'm absolutely not applying this to individual shipmates; I don't have enough information. But I do think that there is nothing wrong with celebrating the gift that retreats can be and can give to those who can receive it.

    If there is one, the problem is with a terrible lack of formation within churches and wider education, which prevents people from appreciating how "off piste" activities like retreats and spiritual direction can be an authentic part of their spiritual lives, rather than some kind of fashionable accessory. Pilgrimages are becoming some kind of competitive recreation, rather than a voyage of self-discovery, carried out in humility.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    Rural peace is only available if you can get there, though. I'm sure lots of people who cannot access that would like to enjoy it too, but cannot. I wasn't making a jab at anyone here or any individual - just that it's one of those things which culturally is usually only consumed by certain groups, and the Church as an institution needs to change this. But this of course applies to so many things - I quite agree about the lack of formation.

    Fineline, none of the nuns I ever explored a vocation with met me at the station! Though none of them were rural except the Poor Clares. I actually only discovered individual retreats as a concept via exploring vocation, before then I thought only church groups did them. I just had no idea they existed. I think this is part of the need for formation. Also as an aside, not everyone with access needs qualifies for a disabled railcard - you have to qualify for PIP/specific disability benefits. For a bus pass you only have to be judged to be medically unfit to drive so this is often easier to access for people with invisible or mental disabilities.
  • ThunderBunkThunderBunk Shipmate
    I don't drive, though I don't have other problems with transport other than extreme fear of heights lovingly entwined with anxiety, which makes modern buildings very problematic - I'm dreading the rash of new stations in London. Not driving, however, is enough to make me very well acquainted with restricted access to retreats. However, I have tried urban retreats on numerous occasions, and simply found their capacity to refresh to be limited. There is something about the proximity to nature that is central to the power of retreats, and I'm confident that I am far from unusual in this. Autonomous vehicles that can cope with rural roads will make this easier, of course, but in the meantime, we need an alternative. Otherwise, retreats will become more and more fashion accessories, at the expense of their transformative function.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    edited April 6
    Mucknell Abbey (see above) is ¼ of a mile from a bus route between Worcester and Evesham. I don't know how close the bus stops are at each end to the stations in those respective towns. It has a website. According to it, the buses run hourly in daytime but not on Sundays.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Pomona wrote: »
    I actually only discovered individual retreats as a concept via exploring vocation, before then I thought only church groups did them. I just had no idea they existed. I think this is part of the need for formation.

    Same. And most ordinary people I talk to have no idea they exist either.

    Pomona wrote: »
    Also as an aside, not everyone with access needs qualifies for a disabled railcard - you have to qualify for PIP/specific disability benefits. For a bus pass you only have to be judged to be medically unfit to drive so this is often easier to access for people with invisible or mental disabilities.

    I know. That's why I used the word 'may.' It can sometimes be harder to get a bus pass these days though, because the letter now required to say you're medically unfit to drive needs to specifically be from an OT or a consultant - so it's difficult if your disability doesn't involve being seen by either.
  • Rublev wrote: »
    What was the structure of the writing retreat? I've never done one of those but it sounds a nice idea.

    I've been to Ty Newydd, Lloyd George's old house, for two writing retreats, one with Gillian Clarke and Imtiaz Dharker and one with Gillian and Carol Ann Duffy. You are selected anonymously by submitting examples of your work. They were both poetry retreats. Other forms are available.

    Format? Lots of workshops and exercises, close-reading and discussion, communal cooking and eating, lots of laughs, lots of wine, nightly readings and, memorably, fireworks as it coincided with Bonfire Night.

    Standing in the dark with a group of writers, including the Poet Laureate and looking at the stars on a clear North Walian night is something I won't forget in a hurry.

    Writing retreats can be pricey but I used prize money from competitions.

    The Arvon Foundation ones sound pretty good too.

    I think there's a gap in the market for lower or mid-priced ones.

    On the pilgrimage thing, I'd be interested in doing The Camino or the one over the Alps to Rome but they seem to be getting more commercialised and as has been said, an excuse for competitive hiking.
  • As for 'upper middle class', it's hard to tell without speaking to people, but the retreatants at St Beuno's didn't strike me as 'upper', but they were certainly mostly middle class.

    As am I, by culture and education, Guardianista, Arts & Crafts middle class, although certainly not in terms of income.

    At one time I was on a managerial income but the roll of the dice took me onto a square with a snake on it. I've got savings so won't starve but my work is very hand to mouth.

    I suspect most Shippies are middle class too, at least in educational terms.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    I believe Gladstone's Library offers similar writing retreats.

    I personally think accessibility (which takes many forms - it of course is not just about being able to get there) and retreat not being well-understood by many people are part of the same issue. I only bring up class because I think the CoE as a whole is bad at dealing with it, and I do think it is an obstacle culturally speaking (as someone who is working class in terms of both background and current income/education), but it's an obstacle in so many things it's not such a specific issue here.

    I have PTSD and need to feel like I could easily 'escape' somewhere that feels unsafe if I need to - hopefully I would never feel like this on a retreat, but I need it to be an option. It's a different kind of accessibility. Bathroom facilities are another tricky thing especially in older buildings. But of course all of this is irrelevant if people don't know retreats exist, or if they think that retreats aren't meant for them.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    @Gamma Gamaliel

    Thanks for flagging up the Ty Newydd website which lists an impressive range of writing retreats. St Beuno's are not running any of these this year. As you say, they are quite expensive compared to other retreats.

    A lot of clergy walk the Camino to Santiago for their sabbaticals. It is said that you will receive a gift each day as a pilgrim. There's also a pilgrimage route to Canterbury Cathedral which is getting quite established now.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited April 6
    @Pomona

    The first time I went on a retreat it was a Vocations Retreat. And at the same time I found out about the ministry of spiritual direction because all those in the process of discernment are encouraged to meet with a spiritual director.

    The third best kept secret in the church is meditation and silence. Techniques like centering prayer and Lectio Divina are not that well known but are very helpful in spirituality.

    Going on an Ignatian individually guided silent retreat somewhere like St Beuno's can really develop your spiritual life because they teach you strategies like the prayer of the senses, imaginative contemplation with scripture and the Examen of Consciousness which increase your awareness of the presence of God in all things.

    If a church has an established pattern of organising quiet days, retreats and pilgrimages then it can be very helpful for the congregation. These are becoming accepted across all traditions of the church. My training minister organised a retreat every year at a different location - Mirfield, Launde Abbey, Iona - and actively encouraged parishoners who had never been on one to attend.
  • Yes, I've heard good things about Gladstone Library.

    Pomona and Rublev have made me think about how we encourage or embed things like 'formation', contemplative prayer and so on in 'ordinary' parish or congressional life.

    The RC parish here has a regular Lectio Divina group which I've twice attended during Lent, for instance.

    The evangelical Anglican parish has the 24/7 prayer thing which is a bit rah-ra-rah but does have something of a reflective element.

    I've heard an academic theologian say that theology oughtn't really be done in the academy but 'out in the churches.'

    Spiritual formation, for want of a better term, perhaps ought to be the same.

    The problem is, we are all too busy trying to keep our show on the road.

    It takes a massive back-ground effort and infrastructure to keep somewhere like St Beuno's going. Cooking, cleaning, gardening, administration, booking ...

    I like the idea of 'pop-up' retreats in under-used church buildings or empty vicarages but it'd still take a heck of a lot of organisation and admin, perhaps more ...
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    Alas, Ignatian exercises are not particularly helpful for me as I'm very much a kinesthetic/visual learner - I struggle with something purely imaginative. I get along far better with a standard rosary.
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