First-ever retreat for busy network members – 'Martha's day off'
Anna Chaplains from across the north of England, the Midlands and Wales gathered at Foxhill House (Chester Diocese) in early September for our first-ever 24-hour retreat. In the beautiful Cheshire countryside, network members were able to rest, connect deeply with each other and draw upon significant encounters with God, as we explored the theme ‘Martha’s day off’.
Debbie Ducille, our Anna Chaplaincy church lead, who facilitated the retreat alongside friends Geoff and Joy Holt from Birmingham (Community of Aidan and Hilda), explains:
‘Our main purpose in gathering was to seek spiritual refreshment, but I think the brief time we had together was also a great opportunity to network, talk and learn from each other. As those involved in challenging pastoral ministry, Anna Chaplains are aware of God’s strength sustaining them, but can struggle to carve out time for this, the most precious of relationships. What does “sitting at Jesus’ feet” look like for each of us, as people who are called to be and do?’
A mixture of discussion, worship and prayer, quiet space alone and reflective activities were on offer, and while most would have appreciated a longer time on retreat, we were able to conclude two things. Firstly, that any time set aside to receive from God is a gift and he always, generously, meets with us! Secondly, ‘Martha’s day off’ was something of a misnomer: retreat is not about retreating/switching off from our lives, but about engaging with God and entering into life more deeply, being resourced and sustained by the life-giving Spirit.
We look forward to evaluating whether a regular annual retreat programme can be offered: watch this space!