‘Come with me to a quiet place and get some rest’ Mark 6.31
The open gate welcomes and beckons
A straight, messy track leads the way beyond
In the stiff breeze and leaves rustling
The distant bleat of lambs cries
Over the closed gate beyond brow of hill within field
Pointed ears apart, legs stumbling among tufts of grass
Inquisitive yet wary little eyes questioning
Scamper back for mother comfort.
The track becomes path and splits two ways
One way to the woods another across fields
Nestling amongst dark trunks, Bluebells await trumpeting Spring
That dash of intense blue filling sweet air with hope and peace
The retreat has begun.
‘Make your home in me, as I make mine in you’ John 15.5
A boiler house transformed is where I stay
Just suits two of us
Kitchen awaits yet fridge switched off
Alongside a beautiful bathroom, in modern European style
A restful lounge overlooking garden
And view at the back where I listen
All is still, just bird song, no creaky floor or hub bub to distract
This is the place to be refreshed and renewed.
Back to the meeting point for all the residents once more
A common room for seat and coffee
Also a squash court transformed to a chapel outside
Chairs separate, purposefully placed
Ahead on altar wall
A favourite focus of mine
Christ the Worker meets us face to face
Artistic creation by Jon Hayward
What a vision, so inspiring
This picture stays with me as reminder
Christ supreme king, high priest, servant worker.
My eyes draw to the creases upon the apron cloth
The angles strident in form
Hands and feet stiffly placed
Tarnished with wounds of crucifixion prominent
Yet hands are gathering
Inclusive, comforting and welcoming
Stance of feet defies gravity, ascending, weightless
Scripture verse fills the conscious mind
Repeated and confirmed once more
Come with me and I will give you rest’
Always remember never forget
Nothing can be challenged Godless
Christ the divine, Halo adorned
Thick neck strong, straight faced, eyes focused
Commanding repentance, letting go of self-desire
You come to me and live
I promise you a place in heaven Love one another as I have loved you
As compline closes silence rules
I hear the door slam, departing feet striding out with the
Shuffle of bags, paper folded, chairs left bare
The candles snuffed, bird song ceases, darkness envelopes
Time for mind, soul and body to rest as one
The day done
‘I have called you by name and you are mine…created for my glory’ Isaiah 43.1,7
The dawn chorus welcomes, alarm switched off
We meet in the chapel for Morning Prayer.
Breakfast is accompanied by Bach’s violin concerto and Beethoven’s Moonlight
Ethereal sounds that blissfully masks the mundane clatter of spoons,
The chomping of jaws and the smacking of lips.
In the silence sign language communicates
To pass the plate of heated bread rolls, butter pat, marmalade, or honey
The tea pot and milk to fill empty cups
Along the length of tables formally placed.
Back in the cottage lounge overlooking the view
Mist is clearing on the distant horizon
Sun light warms the shade of green.
It’s still cold and breeze remaining
The sky covered in cloud, a promise of sun later
Alongside a solitary resident reading
I notice a wagtail landing on the dew soaked grass
Shrivelled daffodil heads lay limp in the dank air
Broken twigs stick up from grassy knell beneath tree
Looking stark, bare and lifeless
The sun appears again, gently bathing land with warmth
The young leaves grow fresh from living twigs, dance in the breeze
In the near distance an empty washing line
An upturned solitary peg left dangling
Hope for washing to dry from its hold, a purpose to fulfil?
Behold the glory of God is within the sun’s ray
We are the upturned peg, the broken twig, and the shrivelled daffodil head
We all yearn for the sun’s warmth and presence
We present our tiredness, to God to be, fed nurtured and restored
We are part of God’s Glory
We are called by name- identified just as we are
Created in his image
Abide in me and I in you we say
Life giver stems brimming with minerals, and sap to all who seek it
Flower petals resplendent in glory
For our pleasure, adornment and fragrance
The exodus of seeds transported to spread and restore new life
Restore me Lord; I come to you for rest
As I return to the cottage from the chapel once more
The friendly wagtail greets me at the door
The wagtail reminds one that this is where to belong
The open gate, the gap in the hedge, the beckoning path, the
Sun’s rays, the upturned peg to be transformed, cleansed, restored.
As the resurrection community, we belong
‘Here I am I stand at the door and knock’ Revelation 3.20
After lunch the sun’s intensity increases.
The first cuckoo song enchants
It’s time to celebrate all creation, breathe in sweet air
Two sheep huddle at the base of nearby tree
In opposite field black sheep wander
The road side enhanced by blue and white mix of wild flowers
Bluebell alongside a delicate white stitchwort adding vibrant fragrance
A left turn passes familiar sites even the church of South Park Estate.
The door, rickety, old and rather stiff pushed open
Reveals an inviting, historic interior with stories to tell
Old Icons, crucifixes, a beautiful nativity scene
Berries and hawthorn blossom adorned the wooden beams above
A Mayday Garland perhaps?
Yet in a dark corner a written traditional prayer of a 17th Century Nun
‘Come and share your master’s delight’ Matthew (5.21,23)
Two other residents join me as we walk towards a lovely mansion
On the perimeter wall an invitation for all passers by
Come in. So we look and espy a beautifully manicured garden
We leave as we entered and continue south, past woods, lakes,
Streams and the occasional hare in distant pasture
Suddenly a grunt from behind startles us
As rider on horseback pass, the horse bows politely.
A chat to each other was opening doors
Allowing others into our lives sharing thoughts worries joys
By default God had put us there together and he comes in
We opened the door and let him enter.
Time to retrace our steps for dinner, to the bell for the grace and silent thought.
After dinner the final guided silence
Reveals Christ’s delight when we do!
The light is fading, the mist returning the door is closes
What a great day.
For now I rest and think of the cuckoo call in the wood
A welcome to Spring
‘I have come that you may have life abundantly’ John 10.10
After egg for breakfast I walk again
Witnessing a nip in the air but at least it is dry.
I turn right on the road not left
It is a change to concentrate on the flora and fauna of the hedgerows
Not to pass houses but an old public footpath sign leading nowhere,
An entrance to a field blocked by an old antiquated wardrobe
Flat on its back filled with ivy, bracken and twigs
Is it meant to house something?
Suddenly the peace is disturbed
By the babble and clomping soles of joggers
Everybody friendly meeting a like-minded person in search of exercise
‘Good day for it!’ is their cry
I retrace my steps eyeing on route a possible bridleway to explore next
At the retreat centre I put my coat in the car
However, the walk is not over yet
I noticed two pregnant ewes awkwardly flat on their sides motionless,
The chef is alerted who kindly opens the gate and walks up to them close
As he looks they get up and walk on nose held high aloft.
The final words ‘I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly’,
The main emphasis of John’s Gospel
Receiving communion itself concluded all.
The taste of wine and wafer consumed
Shed for us so that we have life.
The spirit within makes me sing
‘O come to my heart Lord Jesus there is room in my heart for thee’.
After the mornings service and heavy bleating during prayers
The ewes have been moved nearer the farm
Sheep with tiny lambs replace them
The week old lambs springing about
The ones we observed at the start with
Flapping tails, fluffy bodies and spiky ears apart.
Who scamper back for mother comfort?
Yes what joy to know God’s love?
‘I will put my spirit in you and you will live. Ezekiel 37.14