We have just returned from the UK, where we have held two residential retreats at St. Columba's House, Woking. The first one, "The Art of Easter", explored different encounters between Jesus and his disciples after the resurrection through art and scripture, as well as fascinating depictions of the risen Christ from all over the world. For five days, we read paintings together and made the connections between those Easter moments and our own story. The second retreat, "Keeping Faith in Uncertain Times", explored the wisdom of two amazing 16th century spiritual teachers: Teresa of Avila and Maria Salazar. Over the weekend together, we learned about these remarkable women, who experienced all sorts of challenges in their lives, yet managed to live with hope in those times of crisis. Some of the issues they faced were not that disimilar to the ones we deal with in life. And their responses to these difficulties often felt extremely fresh and contemporary. So much to learn from them!
One of the highlights of these retreats was the retreat centre itself. St. Columba's is a spiritual haven in a residential part of Woking, with beautiful modern facilities, peaceful prayer spaces, lovely food, and super-friendly and helpful staff. We would very much recommend them as a centre. The other special thing for us was to be able to share with these two pilgrim communities around the dinner table, in prayer and worship, in group discussions and in personal conversations. We were very aware of God's presence in all these things, and feel very blessed by the time we shared with everyone.