Beautiful, leafy gardens…serene buildings…blue water, sea birds and dolphins, all within a stone’s throw. These were the sights that met 17 women who arrived at the St John Retreat Centre in Shoalwater in late July. Fifteen ladies came from St Nic’s and two travelled from Boyup Brook to spend the weekend together learning how to deepen their relationship with the Lord and grow in their spiritual journey. Our leaders, Carol Reid, Verity Murray and Rosemary Lindroth, had prepared materials and a programme that would challenge and teach us about contemplative prayer, listening for God’s voice in our hearts and spirits, and simply enjoying being in His presence without any of the usual daily clamour. Each day was encircled by prayer together, with plenty of time spent alone in the quiet gardens or walking the beach, mostly in silence. Meals together were a joyful yet gentle time of fellowship and companionship. A highlight for everyone was Carol’s suggestion that each person prepare something that might represent what the weekend meant to them. At our final Holy Communion service on the Sunday, our various “offerings” were laid before the altar and each woman had a few minutes to explain what theirs meant to them. Some had painted pictures or sculpted clay, some had written poems and prayers, a song was sung, and tears were shed – and we all deeply felt God’s love and grace in that precious moment. After the weekend came to a close, everyone agreed that an annual retreat was something we, and others, would greatly look forward to.
Our huge thanks go to Carol, Verity and Rosemary for their faithful and detailed organisation of the retreat…and to our wonderful Lord for His gentle, loving hand upon each one who attended.