Retreat 4: Charney Manor, Oxfordshire

From this point on I will write short chapters of my weekend retreat experiences, rather than one long entry each time; a series of anecdotes that relate what I have learned and gained from my time away. It’s less exhausting this way, for me the writer, and you for you the reader.

I got back from my fourth retreat of the year this afternoon: by lift to the station, then train, and then a long journey by tube across London. Despite the long journey home I feel I’ve retained some of the magic of the weekend – possibly one of my most enjoyable retreat weekends yet. I had no idea I would like the Quakers so much!

I arrived feeling fractured and tired from a somewhat stressful and emotional week… and came home feeling restored and rejuvenated; like things had been put back together again.

Things in my life that had become looming, insurmountable problems, all tightly bunched up together, have somehow been diffused through a weekend of journaling and storytelling. I have almost filled half a note book of writing during the weekend.

We told stories together, laughed and cried together – that is me and the 16 other women, all a lot older than me (a few in their 70s), on the course. We were only together for the space of a weekend, but for many of us, the experience of being together has been transformational. As one woman said simply, the weekend had helped her to move forward in her life.

We may never see each other again but I know that some of their stories of heartache, hopes and dreams, will stay with me. In a strange way we all remain deeply bound together even though this afternoon we said our goodbye’s and went our separate ways.

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