Friday, 3 July 2015

Four Days in Derbyshire

Last week I was up in Derbyshire attending The Retreat Association's three yearly conference entitled 'Holding a Balance'.  We had great weather, inspiring speakers, good fellowship and creative worship - 'who could ask for anything more!'

As I chair the board of trustees I had something of an  'insiders' view of the goings-on behind the scenes!  I attended some of the planning meetings and took part in the discussions which focused on how to keep 270 participants happy!

Our main speaker was Iain McGilcrist, who is a psychiatrist, doctor, writer and former Oxford literary scholar.  He is particularly famous for his work on 'The Divided Brain'.  His talk was fascinating and the way he floated around the conference ever ready to engage in conversation during the breaks was so appreciated.

All our patrons attended: Rowan Williams, Christopher Jamison, Margaret Rizza and Graham Sparkes.  To catch a glimpse of a former Archbishop of Canterbury serving up the fruit salad on the table opposite one lunchtime was a slightly surreal moment!

The Retreat Association brings together various denominational retreat bodies under one umbrella and also provides a home for those exploring quiet prayer spirituality who don't have any denominational allegiance. One of the best things we do is publish an annual handbook listing pretty much every retreat house in the country and the various activities on offers.  I lent a copy to a minister colleague once and by the end of the evening he told me he'd planned his whole three month sabbatical using the info he'd found in the handbook.

I'm glad we held last week's conference.  It was super to sit at a different table every meal time and chat with Christian folk from right across the spectrum and hear about the way their church or group prays, explores faith and simply tries to 'hold a balance' between faith and life.

I'm deeply grateful to be travelling alongside such people and will look back at those four days in Derbyshire last week as one of the highlights of 2015.

Best wishes,


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