It was a privilege to be invited to lead the regional probationers retreat this year. It was held at Ammerdown Retreat Centre, a place I have not visited for 20 years and my goodness what an incredible make over it has had since I was last there. I would certainly recommend it to anyone wanting to attend or lead a retreat. the accommodation is first class, the food excellent and the staff extremely friendly and helpful.
I chose for my theme ‘The Contemplative Path’ (well what did you expect!) and led 5 sessions over three days as an introduction to the theme. I have since adapted the material to suit other contexts (I will be using it as a lent course in March) and thought I would post the outline below. If anyone is interested in joining such a lent group or attending a retreat on this theme please let me know via the contact page.
These five sessions are an introduction to the Christian contemplative approach to prayer, to life and to our Christian ministry.
In session 1 we discover how life’s drama’s, big or small, can so easily pull us away from our ‘Christ Centre’ and leave us struggling to hear the ‘Still small voice of God’. How does contemplative practice address this and help us to remain centred?
In session 2 we learn about the vagaries of mind chatter and its sometimes distracting and negative impact upon us. How does ‘practicing the presence of Christ’ offer a more focused way to live and how might that change the ways in which we share Christ with the world?
In session 3 we explore prayer. How does a contemplative approach to prayer lead us to a deeper understanding and experience of God. What is our relationship with silence? Why did the disciples struggle with prayer in the garden of Gethsemane? What can we learn from the pioneers of the contemplative tradition about prayer?
In session 4 we see how contemplation and activism are two sides of the same coin and how one informs the other. We explore how living to a rule for life might support these two aspects of our Christian journey and what other resources are available to help us grow in the contemplative life..
In session 5 we explore the fruits of contemplation and the trajectory of this path. There is space left during this final session for discussion, questions, pointers for further study and a concluding story.