Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Beating a Retreat

Some say they find the periods of silence (or should that be Silence) the most rewarding part of a retreat. The removal of the need to speak, the chance to focus on the non-mundane - wandering around the countryside marvelling at nature.

Others, however, find the 24 Hours of Silence from mid-day Tuesday a real struggle. That's because they are forced to go within for their strength. Faced with their own thoughts, some might find they don't like what's in there.

But mostly, they struggle with the Assault Course.

After the rude awakening by klaxons, whistles and air-horns, they have to cover 800 yards across boggy territory at 5am. In the half-light, those obstacles can be particularly difficult. Especially the eight-foot wall. It can be so hard to co-operate when you're soaking wet, unable to use words and you don't know the Sign Language for "I'll climb on your back, then pull you up in return." Not one that's ever featured in an action song on Sunday morning, I guess.

Obviously, I didn't get up to see the fun myself. But I've just finished watching the video that Burton so kindly recorded, and Young Keith will extract the "best of" for the Xmas party. They're gonna love the bit where, due to the Silence rule, it was only discovered in the nick of time that Deidre wasn't waving, but drowning. And the way Oscar swung on that rope straight into Big Oak is a classic.

It's gonna be another hour and a half before we can get them to explain their reflections on the Silence. But I think, given the sleep-deprivation, pain and exhaustion, they all seem a lot more spiritual than they were.


  1. Reminds me of the time I nearly set the retreat centre toaster on fire. Great stuff!

  2. This is excellent. I will recommend it to the abbess for the annual oblates' retreat at our guest house.


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