Penny Caulder sends this report of the Friends Retreat held at Launde Abbey during May:
Tuesday was a real stormy April day – but in May, we all arrived with tales of hail, torrential rain, gusty winds and bright clear sunshine. Tea and cake was very welcome, as we settled in and dried out. We renewed many acquaintances and began making new friends. I am always amazed and humbled by the range of experiences and talents brought together in these gatherings.
After evening prayer and dinner Bishop Michael took us on a tour of the highs and lows of our diocese, with many new ventures to celebrate, but also a few concerns—–Iraq, Yemen and Dubai. He left us with much to think about.
On Wednesday Paul Burt the Mission to Seafarers chaplain based in Dubai talked to us about the journey of faith that brought him there. We broke into small groups (our group got the comfy chairs!) where we talked about our own special experiences in the context of multi faith environments. We focused on the contrast between countries, which had lead to small house groups in one and large enthusiastic celebrations in another.
In the next session Bishop Michael had us all riveted as he put Jonah in context, a remarkable exposition. None of us will read Jonah in quite the same way again!
In the evening Paul gave us a fascinating glimpse into the very varied work at the Mission to Seafarers where some crew can find themselves stranded without pay for months and even without food and water.
Thursday started with Communion and Breakfast, then we said our goodbyes and headed out into a perfect English day of flowers, green fields and sunshine—much refreshed.
Our thanks go to Sally Milner and everyone who made the gathering possible.
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