The picture above is from the Middlesbrough 1 Team retreat in Dufton 2012. We hired a large self-catering cottage which had enough accommodation for all of us.
This photograph reminds me that a few of us took a walk up the hill, Dufton Pike, to view the surrounding countryside. It was a gloriously sunny day if a bit breezy.
As we walked up the incline to the top, the wind held us up, (a sense of eagles wings) and it made the ascent so much easier. We were elated. Fr Andrew gallantly chased hats that blew off in the wind, and John P took some photographs. We continued on a circular route that led us down the other side of the hill and back towards the village. During this time we engaged in personal prayer which for all of us must have included a great deal of thanksgiving.
On our return we were welcomed by those who chose to remain in the cottage, by the smell of home cooked food, and with cheery smiles all round. The day gave us all cause for considering our lives in terms of the blessings the Lord gives us, and the miracle of the earth itself.
Our retreats are flexible with a mutually agreed timetable to keep us on track a rota for meal preparation. Working together to care for each other’s spiritual and physical well being, binds the team closer. Prayer, song and study are scattered throughout our days like a lacework pattern that when regarded after the fact become a whole.
On this retreat, a facilitator was invited to spend a day with us. Bringing someone in, who is not part of our team challenges us to consider subjects that we can find inspiring, challenging, and in some cases make us as individuals consider how uncomfortable we might be with aspects of life and the world, where we find our connection to God lacking.
Our couples “sit down”, into which we are very aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit, lets us express to our spouses the feelings we have about the discussions, and what we are learning about ourselves over the weekend. We learn more how we can better support each other in difficulty and in joy, and to better understand where God is within our married lives.