Updated: Sep 13, 2021
We were so looking forward to our 3rd Play & Pray Retreat in August, then lockdown happened in our area.
After a few weeks sorting out all the working from home arrangements and getting our head around restrictions etc, I began working through the book ‘Lost in Wonder’ by Esther de Waal. De Waal says that a lot of the book is “about the sense of awe in midst of daily life, about seeing, the art of seeing….” I've had this book for a few years and now seemed the right time for it. During my reflections on the first day, I suddenly realised- this is how I could serve people, by providing others with a 5 days of retreat that can be done at home. A stay-at-home retreat!
This is for anyone interested in nurturing their interior world, whatever your worldview. It will be contemplative. I liked the Cambridge dictionary definition of contemplation: “serious and quiet thought for a period of time” (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/contemplation).
Contemplation can be linked to reflection and mindfulness, practices often associated with poets, artists and religions, but they don't have a monopoly on it.
These retreat days are influenced by De Waal’s book, along with many other contemplative and reflective practices I have done over the years.
In the process of shaping this for others I’ve come across some gems on the internet, such as The examined Life by Ellen, there to “ connect to our humanity, and the humanity in others. The 'unexamined life is not worth living' Socrates is thought to have said. The Examined Life is a space for curious minds and emotional souls….It’s a quiet bench on a busy internet, where the hurried and the worn can connect with the vast human continuum of wonder, mortality, longing, selfishness, love, fear, and hope.” (See https://www.theexaminedlife.org/about/).
Remember underlying all these times is gentleness and compassion, it’s not a competition, even with yourself. You can mix the days around- there is no test. Note: Day 1 has those starting a contemplative path in mind.
Structure. There will be 3 sections each ‘day’: input, practice and a response/activity, not necessarily in that order. I’ll include some of my musings in the practice section to help anyone who needs an example?
What do you need? Anything specific to a day will be listed on the day itself.
I know not everyone has a craft cupboard or a studio with art supplies (why not I don’t know), so anything suggested will have options for ‘normal’ people (apparently we’re not).
Next time you shop buy a packet of seeds, you’ll need them for day 4.
Set aside time- don’t wait to ‘find time’. Decide what works for you: ½ hour a day, or 10 minutes a few times a week (you will need to divide the input, practice and response for this one), or 1 hour a week, on each of the 5 ‘days’.
At a Fosterton retreat of any kind, we give you a blank journal so you can put your reflections in it, we encourage you to do the same here. We like blank pages because it means you can write in swirls, or linear(if you want to- my prejudice is showing), draw sketches, stick figures, symbols, record in whatever way works for you. If you don’t have a journal, put some blank pages together- the back of notices or letters. If, like us, you have lots of old books-write or draw in one you don’t need any more, if you use colour to write or draw over a printed book it looks interesting, or use that lined notebook but don’t be ruled by the lines (haha). Be creative.
There will be snippets of writing from de Waal and others to help with contemplation.
If you have a magnifying glass of any type use, have that handy each day too.
The days will be released 1/day for the next 5 days through our blog- feel free to add your experience in the comments section, or email us directly.
About the authors:
We are both practicing artists with decades of experience in creativity. Through our interests, passions and work we also have experience in developing creative and interactive practices which feed your soul, with the aims of facilitating spiritual and personal growth. We are parents and grandparents and have both been community workers, pastors, and counsellors. We like to help people in their quest to find a greater depth, meaning, peace and enjoyment in life. We also like to facilitate opportunities to deepen people's self-awareness and sense of being by nurturing their soul, strengthening their connections with nature and the divine.
Max has training in: Choice Theory, Spiritual Direction, Labyrinth Facilitation and years in Welfare, Bronwyn has training in Choice Theory, The Enneagram, a Bachelor of Natural History Illustration and is currently a PhD candidate & in Spiritual Direction formation.