Our annual Celtic retreat is over and I have finished with the clean up. It is a lot of work to set up tents, clear prayer trails, bring in water & food as well as prepare a programme. However it is all worth it and this year for me it seemed more worth it than ever. The weather was perfect and being about to share our vision for the future an exciting addition to the programme. (More about that later in the week)
As usual we were a very eclectic group – young and old from many different denominations and church backgrounds, and this year even 5 dogs to enliven our day. We camped together, worked together, prayed together and just generally enjoyed fun and fellowship together. Friday is a setup workday for those of us on the MSA team but we turned it into a celebration for Andy Wade, our MSA’s Seed Sampler coordinator who was celebrating his 49th birthday.
Our children’s programme was the best ever, with the adults joining the kids in the afternoon in making finger labyrinths which can act as a template for meditation and refreshment.
The real labyrinth made by Eliacin from branches gathered on the land was also very popular.
Tara Ward and Ryan Marsh from Church of the Beloved led us in worship and helped us focus as we read responsive prayers, meditated on scripture and shared our insights.
In the afternoon Eucharistic service we also completed a Celtic cross from materials on the land and placed rocks around its base as a remembrance of all that has gone before and as a promise of our hopes for the future.
For me the highlight of this weekend is not the retreat day on Saturday but the early morning times spent sitting quietly to pray, walking the prayer trails and drinking in the beauty of God’s creation. Since we started this retreat almost 20 years ago the land has changed. The trees have grown more majestic each year. But as well as that I have learned to identify and appreciate the small and often hidden plants that are there in abundance and often essential to the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem.
Our theme this year was building community and the scriptures revolved particularly around the need for strong and deep foundations. And the bigger the structure we plan to build the deeper and more extensive the foundations need to be. This kind of foundation take a long time to build. We feel that these last 20 years have been times for digging deep to build the foundations – first in our own lives, second in us as a core community and third in MSA itself. And my prayer is that the foundations we have built will enable us to build something that will be strong and resilient into the future.