In May during lockdown, I participated in the UK Oblate Retreat which was for the first time held via a Zoom meeting online. Facilitated by four members of the WCCM the theme was ‘ Reflections on Simplicity a focus on St Benedict’s 12 steps of humility.’ At first, I thought, ‘I wonder how this is going to work’… but may I say before I go any further…for me, it was a truly enriching experience.
The programme started with a welcome and introductions, there were four sessions which included talks on humility from the rule of St Benedict led by Janet Robbins,the readings, night, morning and evening prayers, lectio, meditation and times for sharing led by either Angela Gregson, Sandie Cutts or Mark Ball.
My family were aware that I would be absconding to the spare bedroom for the best part of the weekend and there I had a dressing table which became my writing table together with the iPad. Here I could see 9 retreatants at any one given time out of 17. There was also an opportunity to have a short one to one session with one of the four team members if anyone so wished.
As a seeker on the Oblate path I found to my surprise the rhythm which is experienced on a retreat, could be applied within my own home. The weekend was set aside for God and I was even able to prepare the evening meal in silence. After the evening session at 7.00pm on the Saturday we sat as a family for dinner. During the free time in-between the sessions I wrote up all my notes into a beautiful journal a friend had given me. This is something on a normal retreat I would not generally do…so for me this time it was a blessing as I have some wonderful words of wisdom which I can cherish and ponder upon in the future. I was so absorbed in my world of reflecting and writing I did not have the time to venture outside, the time just flew by…
The time for sharing was beautiful…both calm and stilling and the collective words of wisdom shared were very moving. When asked if we would like to reflect on the weekend and say what came to mind…for me it was to move forward…which has many connotations, that which again I will ponder upon.
I so enjoy retreats held at various locations. There is nothing to compare with meeting others seeking Gods kingdom, sharing stories and being cared for by the hospitality team so one can just BE. But an extremely wonderful alternative in times like the present and for those who cannot travel, online meditation is a close second. Like any retreat I did not want it to end…thankfully I was still left with the inner feeling of peace which I have experienced in the past after being on a retreat. The amazing thing was that this time it was within the walls of my own home.
Maybe this is just one part of the moving forward…embracing the internet.
I have since this gathering expressed a wish to become a postulant ( another part of the meaning moving forward) I feel this is a way of God saying try and bring your human self fully forward and leave your false self behind. I am very blessed to have found such a wonderful community of love with such a wealth of wisdom.
A huge thank you again to all involved, I have been reflecting on my notes as I write this and the wonderful feelings I experienced then…have reemerged.
I look forward to meeting again with everyone hopefully in the not too far distant future.
Truly a blessed time for all…it was more than enough!
Isle of Man