A (non-Christian) retreat part 2

Mid-way through October I went to Parcevall hall for the NHS retreat and I said in a previous blog I would say a bit more.  Before I do, I’d just like to ask the question, ‘what is spirituality to you?’

I ask because it’s not such an easy question to answer.  Here are a few attempts by some authors:

  1. ‘As a teenager I wanted badly to find a meaning, a purpose, a pattern, a God.  To think as I started doing then, that there might be none of these things, was hard for me to take.  Over the years I have learnt to live with ambiguities, uncertainty, a possibility of never knowing.  But it seems that ‘something’ of my leanings towards spirituality never left me’  (Davison J (2009) the Dark Threads.  This ends as a very sad story by the way.
  2. ‘Long term and outward looking; interested in others and collaborative; delighted by mystery and grateful; community – and people-focussed; constructive and inclusive; transforming and confident; exploring but disciplined; attentive and wise’ This tries to describe a spiritual outlook.  Lee B (2011) A Spiritual Understanding of Life
  3. ‘The lived encounter with Jesus Christ in the Spirit’ Cunningham and Egan (1996) Christian Spirituality

A recent survey of people at Spirit in Mind meetings across W Yorkshire described it as as ‘otherness; space for deeper thought; silence; makes you stronger in the mind; a refuge/safe haven; inclusion’.

As you will have guessed there are as many definitions as there are people (well, nearly).

But the thing about the NHS retreat that turned it on its head was a 40 minute ‘off the cuff’ talk by someone who had done the Camino Frances or the Camino de Santiago.  If you’ve not come across it before it’s a pilgrim walk across the North of Spain lasting up to 5 weeks.  Her story was riveting, exciting and caused us all to stop and reflect upon a real living spiritual encounter over a long time.  She began by saying that out of the blue whilst in New Zealand she shared a taxi with a complete stranger who asked her directly had she ever done the Camino de Santiago.  Then, the same day, another stranger asked her the same question. It was at that point she knew she had to make the pilgrimage.  From there she described one spiritual encounter after another – before she embarked on the walk – and then whilst on the walk.  She would not describe herself as a Christian.  Yet the phrase that stayed with us was when she said whilst on the journey, ‘you meet the people you are supposed to meet’.  The whole talk unintentionally asked people to consider a real-life, right here, right now spirituality with a ‘presence’ who is interested in us as individuals.  There are lots of people searching for a reality in the spiritual realms.  The other day and out of the blue someone asked me whether I had ever been on the Camino de Santiago …


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