Ampleforth May 2016 – Homeward Bound
After last year’s Walsingham pilgrimage, some of us decided that we would like to try something new in 2016. There are many places offering retreats but, thanks to Gill Richardson, we focussed on one – Ampleforth. Gill receives a copy of their programme every year and suggested ‘Homeward Bound’ as one that might attract some interest. In the event, 21 parishioners joined in.
The Retreat took place over three days, 3rd – 5th May, and was, of course, residential. Being in an Abbey, we had the opportunity of participating in the monastic offices of the day, which most of us did. This in itself was a very spiritual experience and the monks’ chanting transported us back through the ages as we caught a glimpse of a way of life that has existed for centuries.
The Retreat explored the first half of life and its aims; the moment of crisis which may make us question; and the second half of life's journey which focuses on our purpose. Inspired by Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upwards, the Retreat, led by Fr Christopher, examined the second half of life’s journey, which can be a very positive and challenging adventure rather than a ‘coasting’ to the end.
Despite what you might think from its title, the Retreat was a very positive experience, not only by virtue of its content but also by the opportunity it afforded all of us to get to know each other better. There was an unexpected bearing of souls on the last day when we were invited to pick a photograph of a door from a selection of about 50 and then say something about why we chose it.
Some were moved by their memories which we were all privileged to share. In particular, we were all touched on the second day by Fr Christopher’s sharing of the crises which had affected his life.
You may be thinking that all this was a bit serious but no, there were opportunities to socialise too and, would you believe it, an honesty bar to assist in the process. The rooms were comfortable and airy, the food was simple but good and the Abbey and its grounds were beautiful. Even the weather was excellent with days full of warm sunshine.
All in all, a happy experience, one we hope to repeat next year. My thanks to Nicholas Dobson, Theresa Chikhani and John Neary for their photographs.