I started a response to Lucy’s comment below but it got a little long so I decided to use it as a post. Lucy’s question of expectations was one I asked of myself as I drove to Ashburnham. I’m not big on expectations but I came to the conclusion that for the two days away I was looking for solitude, space and time.
The problem with SA officers/clergy retreats is that they are generally for larger groups of people (there were 50 of us) and they tend to be pretty prescriptive in that they consist of some rousing singing, some reflective singing followed by a lot of one way conversation. I am happy to do that but it doesn’t feel like a retreat I need something a little more individual.
This year I went with a game plan. I avoided talk that drains me – I avoided conversation about putting TSA right, I tried to twist every conversation I had away from talk about our ministry. Also I went with my own agenda to take responsibility for my expectations. That meant this year ‘free time’ didn’t consist of crazy golf in Bexhill, but rather a walk around the lakes armed with a book of meditations based on the paintings by Sieger Köder. I sat and walked with the thoughts evoked by the poetry and words that accompanied graphic images.
I found myself challenged to learn to look at myself through the eyes of God; I found myself encouraged to look for God in the unexpected – which brought comfort for my growing disquiet for predictability. As I looked at the water I found myself pondering how Simon had to learn to sink before he became the rock.
Above all as I walked back to the house I learned that it is too easy to criticise what is on offer without taking responsibility for your expectations.
That was my space, time and solitude amoung copious singing and words!