Time to plan an au­tumn re­treat?,

The Church of England - - Front Page - Lee Abbey

“Spir­i­tual di­rec­tion is, in re­al­ity, noth­ing more than a way of leading us to see and obey the real Di­rec­tor — the Holy Spirit hid­den in the depths of our soul,” said Thomas Mer­ton, Trap­pist monk. Take time to find your spir­i­tual di­rec­tion this au­tumn.

Any­one who has been on a re­treat be­fore will know the tran­quil­lity and peace it brings. Imag­ine be­ing able to plan this feel­ing in your diary! Well, you can. You may still be plan­ning your sum­mer hol­i­day, but have you thought about tak­ing an au­tumn re­treat yet? If not, now is the time. Whether you can spare a day or a week for prayer and med­i­ta­tion, cen­tres across the coun­try want to pull you away from the stress of life and help you along with your spir­i­tual jour­ney.

For some, a re­treat is not some­thing they have ever con­sid­ered. This is some­thing the Re­treat As­so­ci­a­tion is try­ing to tackle. Ear­lier this month, pa­tron of the group, Fr Christo­pher Jamison, led a group of in­ner city teenagers for a day with Breathe Youth Re­treats. The theme was ‘hap­pi­ness’, help­ing the young people to think about what makes them happy and ex­plor­ing ways to find time for quiet re­flec­tion in their daily lives.

Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Re­treat As­so­ci­a­tion, Ali­son MacTier said: “Young people to­day face many pres­sures. This was a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity to of­fer a safe space where they could dis­cover the value of re­flec­tion and con­tem­pla­tive prayer. We hope this will be the start of many more joint ini­tia­tives with Breathe Youth Re­treats sup­port­ing young people in their spir­i­tual lives.”

It’s time to plan yours. Here are a few of our favourites.

Launde Abbey, Le­ices­ter­shire

Re­treats at Launde Abbey come in many forms. From re­treats to in­di­vid­u­als and groups, those look­ing for si­lence and oth­ers who are seek­ing in­spi­ra­tion or cre­ativ­ity. The pro­gramme of re­treats is ex­ten­sive and prom­ises to of­fer some­thing for ev­ery­one. There is also an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence a soli­tary re­treat in their self-cater­ing Ox­ford and Cam­bridge Her­mitage, which is avail­able for in­di­vid­u­als look­ing to spend time in a more soli­tary sit­u­a­tion. Ev­ery re­treat how­ever, of­fers the chance to step back from the pres­sures of daily life, to en­ter a deeper peace with the op­por­tu­nity to pray and ex­pe­ri­ence God. Lo­cated in Devon, Lee Abbey is a Chris­tian Com­mu­nity of around 90 people from all over the world: 19 dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties. The Com­mu­nity also rep­re­sents many di­verse cul­tures and age groups. Set within a 280-acre es­tate in Ex­moor Na­tional Park, the wood­lands, moor­lands, streams, farm­land and coast­line of­fer the op­por­tu­nity to con­nect with God’s cre­ation. The Abbey is hold­ing a Re­new, Re­pair, Re­fresh re­treat at the be­gin­ning of Novem­ber, which could be the per­fect time to pre­pare yourself for the busy Christ­mas pe­riod ahead. “These week­ends are de­signed for in­di­vid­ual Chris­tians, small groups and churches to strengthen their re­la­tion­ship with each other, to deepen their re­la­tion­ship with God, and to learn how to be salt and light more ef­fec­tively in their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and places of work,” the Abbey say. For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.lee­abbey.org.uk.

Fox­hill, Ch­ester

Pic­tured left: This spir­i­tual re­treat and con­fer­ence cen­tre of­fers fa­cil­i­ties for both large and small groups or in­di­vid­u­als on their own. Plenty of events take place at Fox­hill in­clud­ing con­certs, gigs, talks, church ser­vices and sem­i­nars. One easy way to find a feel for the place is to at­tend one of the reg­u­lar cel­e­bra­tions of Holy Com­mu­nion in the Chapel or to go to the Carol Con­cert, held in De­cem­ber each year. Set in 70 acres of Cheshire wood­land, the re­treat cen­tre con­tains an ar­bore­tum con­tain­ing sev­eral species of rare plants and trees. The woods con­tain wood­peck­ers, jays, buz­zards and other birds of prey. There are also birches, red­woods elms, eu­ca­lyp­tus trees and a Gingko Bilboa from Ja­pan – of­ten called the liv­ing fos­sil.

The Dioce­san House of Re­treat, Pleshey, Chelms­ford

This re­treat cen­tre of­fers the fol­low­ing ad­vice for those con­sid­er­ing one. “Just as a good night’s sleep will not change things, but will help you face a new day with re­newed strength, courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion, so a re­treat will not change your life or solve all your prob­lems,” it ar­gues. “But it could be just what you need to find that strength, that new di­rec­tion, or that re­newed sense of pur­pose.”

Wy­dale Hall, York

Wy­dale Hall serves as a re­treat cen­tre for clergy and lay people. Built in the 18th Century, Wy­dale Hall is a mag­nif­i­cent coun­try house set amongst 14 acres of gar­dens and wood­lands. It fea­tures 28 en-suite bed­rooms with tea- and cof­fee-mak­ing fa­cil­i­ties. It also has a ca­pac­ity of 50 beds for groups who are will­ing to share and a max­i­mum of 29 beds for groups where all have sin­gle ac­com­mo­da­tion. Other fa­cil­i­ties in­clude a lounge over­look­ing gar­dens, wifi ac­cess, wood­lands, a labyrinth, sports pitch and ten­nis court. As with most Angli­can re­treat cen­tres, there is, of course, a good bar.

Sneaton Cas­tle

Set deep in Cap­tain Hook Coun­try, Whitby’s Sneaton Cas­tle of­fers beauty and her­itage. Beaches, rail­ways and towns sur­round the cen­tre. Closer to home, there are ex­cel­lent fa­cil­i­ties for craft, sci­ence, art and mu­sic, as well as large meet­ing rooms and cosy bars. If that isn’t enough to tempt you, the Cas­tle of­fers deals through­out the year. Check out the web­site for this year’s picks in their en-suite ac­com­mo­da­tion.

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