Have you been on a retreat?

Have you been on a retreat lately? Where did you go and what was your experience?

I’d love to include on this blog other people’s experiences of retreat-going, alongside my own personal reflections, and to cover more retreats across the country.

Maybe you had a life-changing experience while on retreat – an experience you’ll never forget, or was it the most boring weekend of your life with the worst food you’ve ever eaten?

Whatever type of retreat (silent, workshop based, a day retreat), and whatever the experience (amazing, awful, hilarious), it would be great to receive your comments.

You can write your comments here below, or if you’d prefer, email me at karenjmcintyre@gmail.com


5 thoughts on “Have you been on a retreat?

  1. The last time I went on a retreat was about 5 years ago. I’m afraid I can’t say I really enjoyed it. The place – which will remain nameless – was situated close to rather a busy road so athough being in the country with some lovely grounds it was not possible to escape the sound of the traffic and some parks in London offer more peace!

    There was the option of being sociable at meal times or going for the silent option and using the silent dining room. After using the talking room a few times for meals and enduring a bit of awkward converstaion with other guests my friend and I decided to try the silent dining room. It was an experience. My girlfriend and I are good friends, have known each others for years and neither of us can be described as being short of words. We struggled to stay silent while other guests were in the room, stifling giggles and then burst out laughing as soon as the room was empty. We only tried the silent dining room the once.

    But more seriously I had a bad experience at this retreat centre and as a result would not consider going back. The house and grounds had formerly been run by Anglicans but had been taken over by the Catholic church and I understood, remained open to all. However, when attending a service in the beautiful simple chapel the older priest refused to allow me to take part in communion as although I am a Christian, I am not a Catholic. I felt deeply upset and angry and it ruined the rest of the time there.
    Jesus welcomed all to Him and all who have faith to His table and yet sadly man can reject so unlovingly.

    I received no repsonse to the letter I wrote to the person in charge following my visit which was also disappointing.

    So I would advise to check carefully before you book!


  2. I went on my first retreat about 18 months ago. Never having been away on my own before I chose somewhere not too far away and arrived at Green Pastures in Poole for three nights feeling rather nervous. What struck me was how friendly it was and how early people went to bed! This wasn’t a guided retreat, just time for me to have some peace away from every day life. I attended morning and evening prayers but the rest of the time was my own. I spent it reading, keeping a journal, enjoying the solidtude and a little sightseeing. Green Pastures is 20 minutes walk from beautiful Branksome Beach where I passed a lovely afternoon just watching the world go by. I even took my shoes off and walked along the waters edge talking to God!

    Coming home was hard – I missed the peace as life took over again. It had felt strange to begin with, winding down isn’t easy, but it was just what I needed. I’m hoping to go back in the ealy summer for a guided rereat and would love to visit other retreat centres in the future.

  3. I first started going on retreats nearly seven years ago. Most of these have been guided, at the now closed Community of St Francis in Somerset. My times there proved to be a lifeline for me, during a period when I was struggling with a number of life issues and transitions, not least difficulties with the institutional church.

    Since then, I’ve really valued the many opportunities I’ve had to step back and reflect at a number of different communities, from CSMV Wantage and Douai Abbey, and The Cenacle at Netley, Elmore Abbey as was and St Cassians, Kintbury. These have ranged from led retreats with my fellow Franciscan tertiaries, to workshops and sometimes, just the odd few hours pottering round a favourite place like Salisbury Cathedral.

    Sarum College are well worth checking out for their spirituality courses and residentials. A highlight for me last autumn was their ‘Pray Without Ceasing’ mini retreat. If you pop over to my blog, you can read about it there.
    http://feelinggreen.typepad.com/green_patches/2010/11/pray-without-ceasing.html Putting ‘retreats’ into the search box will bring up accounts of some of my other wanderings, including pilgrimage, which is a bit of a theme for me at the moment!

    As a Franciscan tertiary one of the requirements of my rule of life is to go on a retreat of some kind every year. This is one part of the rule which I’ve absolutely no difficulty complying with!

  4. I went on an 8 day silent retreat in February at St Beuno’s in North Wales after watching the Big Silence on BBC2. It was life-changing. I had thought it was going to be some kind of hard ordeal that I was putting myself through for my own spiritual good but actually I felt amazingly happy the whole time. I am returning in the summer to do the Ignatian exercises. You can read about my silent retreat at : http://www.inspire-me.org.uk/

    I’ve also been to Worth Abbey a couple of times – that’s been brilliant too!

    Last weekend, I ran a retreat for the first time. The subject was loneliness. I had been on a loneliness retreat last year at a well-known retreat centre that I shan’t name. I have lots of friends but since my divorce, I feel lonely sometimes because I haven’t found a life partner. – The retreat was really unsatisfactory and didn’t really scratch where I itched if you know what I mean. It prompted me to think about loneliness and research it more. Someone suggested I ran a retreat and it spiralled from being just me and 3 friends attending to 10 people, including people I’d never met who’d heard through word of mouth. I’ve been asked to do another retreat in November on a different topic.

    So in just 15 months, I’ve gone from going on my first retreat at Worth Abbey filled with fear and trepidation to running a retreat and signing up for the full Ignatian exercises! It seems incredible even to me!

  5. We recently hosted a faith-based retreat for parents who have lost children. When we lost our 17-year-old daughter to cancer a little over two years ago, we found that spending time with other bereaved, but believing, parents was one of the most healing things we could do. So, this past weekend, in the beautiful woods of southwest Arkansas, we hosted a retreat for eight couples who had lost children. Our attendees ranged from a couple who lost a full-term baby just prior to birth, to a couple who lost their 36 year old son in combat in Afghanistan. It was an amazing experience for all concerned, and we are excitedly looking forward to hosting another one in November of 2011. The retreat is called the “While We’re Waiting Weekend”, and the focus is on living well while we’re waiting to be reunited with our children in Heaven. Check it out on my blog at http://www.thesullivanfour.blogspot.com!

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