Intrigued by Ordination Retreat and Its Wildlife.
I'd presumed it was all about the stereotypical people you get on retreats. Instead of which Rachel has shared with us some photos - lovely as they are - of actual wildlife. Barely satirical at all if you ask me. But lovely.
So I've had to fill the gaps in here. Hnaef is, as we have previously discovered, a closet Anglican and quite posh. So he knows quite a lot of people who have been to ordination retreats. And, by asking around for me, he's managed to identify the following ordination retreat wildlife.
People who went to College
There are two basic divisions to the Retreat Wildlife. Those who went to College (full time) and those who were on a (part time) Course. People who went to College tend to be younger. They talk about things like "Staggers", which I believe is the sheep equivalent of Mad Cow Disease. And they're called things like "Maud" or "Camilla". Though I couldn't find out what the women's names are.
People who were on a Course
Can't see a pebble without meditating on it. Gather fallen twigs in the Retreat House gardens to build impromptu prayer stations. Sing "I the Lord of Sea and Sky" at all opportunities.
But then there are many subdivisions.....
People who Can't Stand Silence
Not necessarily just extroverts. There are actually more introverts who just love background noise. Blocks out the voices. Extroverts will cope with silence by indulging in giant charades to tell everyone how happy they are to be silent. Many have learnt British Sign Language for just this kind of occasion. Or even semaphore. There's nothing like having two bloody great flags to say "I'm eschewing all forms of communication. And I'm an extrovert! LOL!"
It's actually the introverts that really hate this kind of thing. They'll be off, at the first hint of silence, on 20-mile bike rides or all-day walks. On days with bad weather they'll pace the corridors / cloisters in quiet desperation. If there's a motorway handy, they'll stand on a bridge nearby, just to get some kind of noise in their ears.
The SSM IT Person
The SSM (self-supporting minister, not.... you know....) will inevitably have a key system going live. They've been let out for the retreat on the strict condition that they bring their lap top and keep in touch. If at a rural Retreat House, they can be seen on the horizon, roaming the hills and trying to get a signal. At the end of the week, they'll discover people have started calling them "Father"/"Reverend"/"Archdruid" and will wonder how that happened.
Could be a young parent, or an SSM candidate, or just idle. No fear of "silent times" at all. Will just head back to bed. If in the first two categories, this will be the first week they've averaged 8 hours sleep per day in years.
The Soul's Awakening
What they're all supposed to be like, I suspect. Either so amazed with the amazement of the amazing thing to happen to them that they will soak up every amazing moment and treasure it, amazed, in their hearts. Or so terrified by what's happening they can barely speak.
The Person Who's Ill
You don't get twenty middle-aged people together for a week without one of them being ill. Could range from mild lurgy, to nervous exhaustion, to swine flu to - in really bad cases -"The Staggers". This gives everyone else the chance to pray for them to get there / get better / make it through the ordination service. Which is, in a way, a Good Thing.
Believe it or not some people being ordained are bona fide red-blooded Blokes. I don't mean Lads. They won't be trying to chat up the waitresses at dinner. But they will be the ones, at the end of Compline when the Great Silence starts, using Boozers' Sign Language to communicate something like this:
"Elephant and Castle?"
"No, Roger is already at the Giddy Sheep."
"OK. Pint of Old Bloodnock?"
"Oh go on then."
So keen on spiritual delights that, as well as the set worship of the Retreat, they will also be found in the Retreat House"s daily services (in rural areas) or at the cathedral at all hours (in retreats in cities). I suspect all this prayer will come in handy when, a few weeks later, they're removing dead pigeons from the organ pipes or dealing with a couple who want a "christening for little Stefaneigh, but not anything religious". In fact I'm sure it will help. I just don't understand how.
The Person Who's Not Thought the Whole Thing Through this last 5 years
Will be found, on the morning of the ordination, wearing a clerical collar, looking at themselves in a mirror, and swearing freely.