A pause for refreshment

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green trees beside body of water

My husband’s hobby is photography.  Every year, he puts together a book of photos highlighting the good experiences of the previous year.  Yesterday morning, he showed me the draft book for 2020.  I was a bit sceptical; let’s face it – 2020 wasn’t a great year! What on earth would a photo-book show?

But, when I looked at the pictures he’d put together, he’d done a great job in finding some happy moments:

  • There was a lot of fun with a new puppy!
  • The great camaraderie of the (pre-pandemic) show which I directed
  • A sunny day-out to Gent with our son between one lockdown and another
  • Our daughter’s highly-virtual graduation from University….

The photo-book doesn’t capture the sadnesses, the cancelled holidays and other life events, or the separation from family in England and the States. But it does capture the joy in what we did manage to do.

The point is that taking time to look at the photos made me stop and think – what was 2020 really like?  Alongside loss of many kinds, there were times of fun and hope! 

And, in all these experiences what was God saying about then, now or the next few months?

Of course, I was looking at just one 2020 photo-book. But, perhaps, if I (or we) took time to reflect on all the memories gathered during this 20/21 pandemic, we might see where God has been present and working during this difficult time, how God has been part of the journey. This in turn might make it easier to face the immediate future with a renewed sense of purpose and “God with us”. And that could give us a fresh perspective on the continued route through our personal and collective photo-book of 2021.

Ann touched on some of this during her reflection from 1 June 2021.  She asked us to take time to consider the effects of the pandemic in all its complexity and to discern our personal response to the coming months.   And some of this thinking undergirds the day retreat we’ve planned for 28 August 2021, “Draw Aside – Return Refreshed”.  As we emerge from the strangeness of the last year/ 18 months, with all that has meant for us, our loved ones and our Church communities, perhaps we could all do with a moment to reflect on what has happened and to gather strength or a new perspective for the future.  That’s why we’re offering this day retreat, where a small number of people can gather and take time to think, pray and imagine – a moment of spiritual refreshment in what has been a long and complicated haul for many people.

The three of us (myself, Ann and Sonja) will guide the whole group through prayers for our time, meditations on the psalms and there will be periods of silence in which to walk, pray, write, draw, as people wish.  Our hope is that the day will provide refreshment and a chance to (re)focus on God and to think about the future.

Of course, not everyone wants to, or can, take advantage of a day retreat.  But it could be useful to intentionally set aside time to simply be with God, reflect on the last 18 months and think about the future. You could do this alone or with a Christian friend – perhaps using a psalm or other piece of scripture, or a photo of something beautiful in the natural world, or a painting of a significant biblical scene, and/or you could use some of Ann’s questions from 1 June as a starting point?  Suggestions for different kinds of meditation can be found in the How-To Guides section of our website.

Hoping that August is a time of true spiritual refreshment for you….



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