Retreating from the world is harder work than you expect
Every organisation needs to take stock and regroup every so often, and believe me churches are no exception. Although I've been a Trustee of MCC Bournemouth for something like a year now, we've not had a chance to do that since I joined the Board.
Until this weekend, that is. On Friday we gathered at the Church to leave for a weekend retreat at Hilfield Friary near Cerne Abbas.
Hilfield is a Franciscan Friary, so it emphasises simplicity and being at one with its surroundings. To quote from the Hilfield Project website:
"At Hilfield Friary in Dorset, UK, the brothers of the Society of St Francis have established a project which brings together both a commitment to peace and justice between people and also a care for our natural environment. Rooted in the life and spirituality of St Francis of Assisi we are working to share the Gospel greeting of peace with those whom we meet and to find that harmony between ourselves and the world around us which we believe is God's desire for all. Hilfield is a place where others can come to join us in seeking peace, reconciliation and the integrity of creation."It most certainly is that. I've not been anywhere so peaceful for quite some time, and it formed a perfect backdrop to our musings and prayers this weekend.
On the Saturday evening we participated in a very moving night service in the Friary Chapel. Coming from an Evangelical background it was a very different style of service from that I'm used to, but it was absolutely beautiful and so, so tranquil. it's also the first time I've sung in Latin! *
* Salve Regina, if you're curious
Although we've been referring to it as "a weekend retreat", in practice we only had one evening and a full day as the aim was to be back in time for the 11am service on Sunday morning. As a result, our "weekend" was a very, very busy one, and by Sunday I was thoroughly exhausted.
The good news is that the brainstorming paid off and we now have a very good idea which areas we need to work on and where to take the Church next. Well worth the thumping headache and yawning which was the inevitable result of far too little sleep this weekend!