Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Renewing the bodymind - very, very slowly ...

All day retreat today, as part of the Diocesan Summer School. Should have gone on one last week, but couldn't be arsed and I was actually busy with the Thorn in the Flesh edit. Panicked hugely about getting there, even though it was only in Woking, but Lord H found a better route than I'd anticipated and in the end it was fine. The only problem was it was held in St Columba's House Woking which, frankly, has to be the least welcoming retreat house in the UK. I've been before, and had the same feeling of despair and lack of anyone friendly or even willing to tell you where you should park or which room you should be in. Lordy lordy, but this time was a struggle as well. They really need to raise the level of their customer service game. Ye gods, but even I know how to smile when people come into the office. At St Columba's, the people in the office (when I eventually found it) all turned round and stared at me as if I was the devil himself paying them a visit. Or perhaps they know me better than I thought? Hmm ...

Anyway, once the lovely Viv Stacey had turned up and was leading us through the "Renewing the Bodymind" day, things calmed down all right. I've been on one of her courses before and they're really good. Though this year, what with one thing and another, I wasn't concentrating as much. I think I got the most out of her breathing meditations - so simple, but it does make you aware that prayer goes on in the body too. Not just the mind. It's how we feel and our physical selves too. And also good to be reminded that words get in the way of the silence. Sometimes I do think that the church is full of words words words, and only God is quiet. Oh, and I found myself sitting next to two more Annes, one from Godalming, so that was nice. The other Anne from Godalming was great as a lunch companion. In the course of one hour, we managed to discuss when churchgoing becomes impossible at all, how to survive the fall-out, the value of silent retreats (ace, in my opinion), how God can be really disappointing at times and what the Buddhists can teach us. And we didn't talk all the time either.

The funny thing (and the thing that got me most) was that during the afternoon, we had a brief session on Gospel encounters involving restorative touch, and we were all given a passage to look at and think about. Mine was the story of the woman who'd touched the edge of Jesus' cloak to try to cure her bleeding, and been healed of her illness. It took me right back to last year where, during one of Viv Stacey's retreats, I'd had a picture in my mind of doing exactly the same thing, but this time Jesus had stopped, turned round, faced me and given me the whole cloak instead. I don't often get these pictures, and so rarely indeed these days, and they always pack a punch. Anyway I was glad to be reminded of it again.

Post-course, I've done a Tesco shop and bought some light-hearted books for Mother to read if she gets bored with hospital mags next week. And I've typed up the Goldenford minutes.

Tonight, Lord H is out at the Village Hall Committee (groans of boredom ...) and I'm going to do a little writing, possibly some flash fiction for the Writewords Flash Fiction II group. We'll see if I can get any inspiration.

And, coincidentally enough, I've just finished reading Reclaiming the Body in Christian Spirituality, edited by Thomas Ryan. It's about using the body in meditation and developing the essential link between mind, body and spirit. Which I feel is so important. However, I don't think the book made much of an impression, to be honest. Actually doing the thing is far better. Or attempting to, rather!

Apart from all that, I do feel very drained and rather low at the moment. I'm dragging myself round the flat, attempting to do only one thing at a time. It's the only thing to do at times like these, I think. Ah well.

Today's nice things:

1. Talking with the other Anne of Godalming
2. Remembering the image of the cloak
3. Not having to go out this evening.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Pink Champagne and Apple Juice
Goldenford Publishers

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