Pilgrims in an Alien Land, CEL Retreat
walking to freedom when the world’s in chains
CEL Retreat Weekend, 14-16 Oct 2011,
Ringsfield Hall, Beccles, Suffolk NR34 8JR
Over 30 CEL members enjoyed a fantastic weekend at Ringsfield Christian Eco-Study Centre in the midst of the Suffolk countryside. We spent time in prayer and meditation outside in the October sunshine. We named and shared some of the burdens we carry with us. We collected leaves and berries and nuts and wood and flowers to create our own exhibition of beauty in the natural world. And we were well fed with plenty of delicious, locally sourced vegetarian food.
Paul Bodenham and Chris Walton led ‘taster’ sessions introducing us to three different ways of reading and praying with the Bible: Lectio Divina – meditating deeply on one word or phrase from a short passage; Creative Visualisation – imagining oneself there in the gospel story of the rich young man; and Patterns of Formation – looking at the larger picture of salvation history and finding connections with today.
On the Saturday afternoon we arrived at the hall for the ‘Finding Beauty’ exhibition only to be told by Chris and Ross that the exhibits had failed to arrive. We were sent out into the surrounding woods and gardens to find natural ingredients for our own artistic creations. The results were amazingly impressive – from a simple daisy, to colourful arrangements of leaves and a beautiful pencil drawing of a huge oak tree.
Our Sunday morning worship was in silence outside using our eyes and ears to experience God’s creation in the trees and sky and singing of the birds. We were offered a piece of bread and a cup of wine in memory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A great joy of CEL weekends is to be with others for whom care for God’s earth is an underlying given. Even our journeys to the retreat reflected this environmental concern: most came by train, one even arrived on a bike, and a small group walked the three miles from Beccles station. We were blessed with the presence of three families with six children and teenagers having fun building dens and playing in the 14 acres of grounds. Five year old Owen led us in song around the woodland campfire on Saturday night.
See you next time.
Our next CEL weekend retreat is at Noddfa Retreat Centre near Llandudno, 19-21 October 2012.