Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, so I thought it would be timely to go on a Lent retreat for the second of my 12 retreats this year.
I’ve booked myself on a weekend retreat at St Michael’s convent in Richmond, an Anglican convent. They are having a ‘Lent Quiet Day’ on the Saturday, described as a ‘day of prayer and silence’ on the website.
I’m not entirely sure what this will involve, or who else will be there, but it appears to be led by one of the sisters at the convent and lasts from 10-5pm. I decided to make a weekend of it by staying over the on the Saturday. A friend will join me too later on the Saturday. Again, nice to have company.
I’d had all kinds of plans for a more adventurous retreat this month, ranging from an ‘Enneagram’ retreat at Turvey Abbey in Bedfordshire (which looks intriguing, all to do with developing an ‘understanding of self and others’ on the website), to a weekend with the Northumbria Community on theme of a ‘Still Point in a Turning World’ (I like that phrase).
However, life has been pretty manic lately, and more than anything I need some rest and recuperation. With many things kicking off the moment – particularly with changes at work – I’m starting to wonder if my monthly weekend retreat will be the only constant thing running through the year.
At the same time it’s a freezing cold February and I’m still in winter mode… Perhaps I’ll save the more adventurous retreats for springtime.
From what I can remember of St Michael’s, it’s a really welcoming, relaxed place. It is not enclosed, as Poor Clare’s was, giving it a much more open feel. I remember going there for the first time and being surprised at seeing the sisters reading daily newspapers and playing Scrabble on a Sunday afternoon. Possibly I imagined them to be disconnected from the outside world and sitting around reading their Bibles and praying all day.
There is also a lot of interaction with the sisters – you eat with them at mealtimes, and generally they are around – and they have lovely gardens to stroll around where they grow their own food. They also offer something called spiritual direction if you need it.
Besides finding time for myself this weekend, it will be really good to give some thought to Lent, and maybe even give something up – which I’ve never done for Lent before.