Retreat 6: Small steps

I joined 15 women and one man on the retreat at Whitehill Chase in Bordon, Hampshire. I was the youngest by around 20 years, with many of the women retired or widowed.

I didn’t mind being the youngest. It was the same on the Journaling retreat at Charney Manor back in April. By the end of the weekend I found I’d gained a lot from the older women’s wisdom and from viewing life from the perspective of 30 years’ time. I always thought that as I got older and wiser life might get a bit easier, but listening to these women’s stories made me realise that with every age comes a new set of problems and issues (and joys course).

At dinner on the first evening I sat with three women, all roughly 60, (and all single, surprisingly) who shared a bit about why they were on the retreat. I sat opposite a lovely woman, who having recently turned 60 was looking for a new direction in her life. She said she wanted to ‘make the next bit count’. I liked that. I’d recently turned 30, half her age… I too wanted to make ‘the next bit count’.

The Chapel, Whitehall Chase

One of the others said the weekend was about discovering (and re-discovering) her God given identity; that she’d lived her life according to other people’s expectations of what she should do and be, rather than what she wanted to do. Now was a chance to change that.

I guess I’d picked this retreat because I’d been in limbo for a while with jobs, and generally speaking in a muddle in the whole area of vocation. I knew what it was I wanted to do, but didn’t necessarily have the courage to take hold of that calling.

I liked what one of the retreat leaders said… that vocation is a series of small steps – sometimes a very subtle move in a specific direction. And that when we take one small step towards God in this direction, he comes three quarters of the distance towards us. I usually aim for the big steps and then get depressed if I fail. I like the idea of small steps.

‘We ask to know the will of God without guessing that His will is written into our very beings’ (Elizabeth O’Connor)


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