Let A Hundred Little Retreats Flower

'It's just happening more and more' emails Richard from Ynys Mon (Anglesey) in Wales. 'Lots of tiny fires lighting up, big boilers just smoking and going out! It strikes me, in the same vein, that retreats are going the same way - instead of large, professional retreat houses there are more and more people offering a kind of micro-retreat - one or two rooms in their house, or a chalet in the garden, and someone to talk with if needed. That's what's Gill and Peter at Shepherd's Stream are doing, James and I, my neighbour Wendy, etc. etc.'

Blow me down if that isn't happening with me this very week. Another Richard uses my chalet and stays overnight for two days to think through next steps in his calling to develop Mindfulness courses.

A parish priest who had to miss our Igniting the Flame course students retreat stayed at The Open Gate and asked if I as his tutor could reflect with him during a mini retreat. I am filled with admiration for clergy like him. He accepted a 400 per cent salary drop in order to be ordained, and refused 100 'nice' parishes in order to serve God in the neediest place. 'There could be a parish with good facilities, income and attendance where they hate each other', he says, 'but where I am, even if there's litter and fighting in the streets, there's a lot of love'. He shares my admiration for Father Seraphim, who kept silence for fifteen years but when he then opened his cell and his mouth he discovered that thousands were converted by one word. So my friend is going deeper into the spiritual disciplines of the desert in the belief that transformation of his fellow parishioners is a more effective path than mere schemes.

Pat, from Devon, is volunteering at The Open Gate. She tells me that our Devon Aidan and Hilda group are to hold a small retreat in a cottage. I hope Aidan and Hilda Voyagers throughout the world will spark to the idea of little cottage retreats. Let a hundred flowers bloom. Book in to the Anglesey retreat. http://www.helfelincottages.co.uk Retreat to advance.

I'm off to Jersey. A mainland parish has asked me to lead a retreat for them. Same idea - though this is in a hotel.

Posted at 08:54am on 17th September 2015
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