Change of plan

Heavy snowfall across the country, with more on the way, has halted my retreat plans this weekend. I had an email from Worth Abbey the day before last to say that regrettably, the retreat has had to be cancelled, and that it would be rescheduled for later in the month.

A shame really as I had geared myself up for this, the first of my 12 retreats, and was looking forward to what a weekend on the themes Gluttony and Lust, taken from Christopher Jamison’s book (Finding Happiness) would entail.

At the same it’s a particularly freezing and snowy January, so the prospect of curling up indoors and not being in a monastery (no matter how inviting) is a welcome one.

My task now is to find an alternative retreat to go on this month. The Worth retreat has been rescheduled to the last weekend of January, which I can’t make.

As a basis for my research I’ve been dipping into Stafford Whittaker’s The Good Retreat Guide to find something suitable. It appears to be the most comprehensive guide to retreats around, now in its fifth edition and covering over 500 retreats, not just in the UK but across Europe.

However, it seems January isn’t a great time to go on retreat. Many of the ones I’ve been looking at have themed weekends beginning around March; before that there isn’t a great deal going on unless I just go somewhere for my own private retreat.

A possibility is a Franciscan convent in Sussex, which has a community of around 24 sisters living there. From the website it looks warm and friendly (lots of group photos of smiling women in habits) so I’m thinking, or hoping, this might be a good bet for next weekend. The problem is that on their website there isn’t anything about taking a retreat there, although according to Stafford Whittaker of The Good Retreat Guide “the community has a small guest house where people are welcome to stay for a private retreat or just to rest and be quiet.”

I’ve dropped them an email at the convent and will wait to hear what they say…


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