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Curate's Corner - October 2017

Curate’s Corner – October 2016

One of my favourite TV programs of recent times is Rev, starring Tom Hollander as a rather hapless Inner-London vicar, Adam, and his long-suffering wife, played brilliantly by Olivia Coleman. In one of the episodes, we see Adam explaining to various people that he is going on retreat, correcting them when they say, ‘enjoy your holiday’; “It’s not a holiday, it’s a retreat!”

Before I was ordained, I think I would have had a great deal of sympathy with those parishioners, seeing a few days’ away at a retreat centre as a bit of a luxury; an extended holiday; an opportunity to relax and catch up on some sleep.

But I now see a retreat slightly differently. As curates, we were encouraged both in our College training, and in our early ministry, to consider going on a retreat as a means of taking stock; of reflecting on our experiences; and an opportunity to re-focus our spiritual lives.

Jesus himself provides us with the model for how we should live our spiritual lives of course. Time and again in the gospel accounts we see him withdraw from the crowds to go and pray alone in a quiet place by the lake, in the hills, in the desert, or up in the mountains. He shared his heart with the Father. He prayed and meditated on Scripture. He listened to the Father, submitted to his leadership, and obeyed.

It's no exaggeration to say that Jesus went on retreat. Often, in fact. He knew that he needed time away from the crowds in order to pray. He didn't just sneak in a few moments of prayer between preaching slots. He didn't just have a time of quiet in the morning. Rather, Jesus took time away from his busy and expanding ministry in order to be quiet with his Heavenly Father.

Think about it. If the Son of God, the one who experienced unique intimacy with the Father, needed to go on retreat, then don't you and I need to do the same? How can we expect to negotiate the challenges and opportunities of our lives if we don't back away every now and then so as to take time for rest, reflection, and, most of all, prayer?

I realise that for many people, the thought of going away on retreat might seem an unnecessary indulgence. But we don’t often say that about going away on holiday do we?

I will be going on retreat this month for a few days, the first retreat since my ordination in 2014. Vicky is still teasing me and referring to it as ‘going on holiday’, despite my protestations to the contrary!

Have a think about whether you might consider having a retreat – a dedicated time away from the busyness of day-to-day life, to stop, reflect, and to deepen your relationship with the God. If you’d like more information, have a look at The Retreat Association website: http://www.retreats.org.uk/

Fr Mitch