Here is a tentative outline for the Contemplative Spirituality and Social Activism Retreat to take place in Northern Ireland this August. While some of the details are still subject to change, this will give you an idea of just how special this week is going to be. Remember, there are just a few openings left for this week — please let me or my colleague Gareth Higgins know if you’re interested in attending.
Tuesday, August 17th:
Arrivals in the morning and afternoon
Programme begins with dinner and introductions
Wednesday, August 18th – Monday, August 23rd:
For the six full days of the retreats, we will alternate talks, spiritual exercises, conversations and walks in the morning with field trips in the afternoon, and entertainment, socialising and a bit of Irish roguery in the evenings. Provisional programme is below – all subject to change, and some of the details left to the imagination so that we still have some surprises when we get there!
Mornings — Talks and spiritual exercises and walks, including some of the following:
1. Lectio Divina as a core spiritual practice: not just reading sacred text, but reading our lives, reading our struggles, reading our calling.
2. Contemplation: befriending our silence and our darkness.
3. Holiness and Hospitality (or, what do St. Anthony the great and Brigid of Kildare have in common?): connecting the dots between Celtic paganism, Christian mysticism, Celtic Christianity, and transformational spirituality today.
4: Yah-Weh breath prayer: The presence of God in every atom.
5: John O’Donohue’s questions: The things you need to ask yourself.
6: Facing the death that you’ve already experienced: The path to life.
7: Oscar Romero’s vision of planting the seed as a path to radical activism.
8: Interviewing each other about our bodies, and stories we tell each other about our bodies.
9: Exercises on grief and grieving.
Wednesday, August 18th — Politics Day
Visiting Paramilitary Murals in Belfast
Clonard Monastery (Catholic peace activists)
East Belfast Mission (Protestant peace activists)
Evening: Conversation with William Crawley, BBC religion and current affairs radio presenter and raconteur.
Thursday, August 19th — Landscape Day
Visit some or all of these beautiful sights: the Giant’s Causeway; Dunluce Castle; Bushmills; Corrymeela
Evening: Historic pub visit.
Friday, August 20th — Culture & Shopping Day
Ulster Museum: Superb cultural institution
Holywood/Dirty Duck: Gareth’s home town and classic Irish pub
Evening: Theatre/Cinema/perhaps a movie back at the house
Saturday, August 21st — All day and evening at Randalstown Forest
Great Irish food, walk, storytelling and music in the evening.
Sunday, August 22nd — Silent Day
Silent Day on site; with optional fast for breakfast and lunch, with good home-cooked meal in the evening
Monday, August 23rd — Wrap up: Dealing with the Past, Envisioning the Future
Morning: field trip to meet a political leader and friend of Gareth at the local parliament;
Visit with “Healing Through Remembering” post-trauma initiative.
Afternoon: Final reflections.
Evening: Poetry and music performance from Padraig O’Tuama.
Tuesday, August 24th
Departure for home.
Is Ireland calling to you? Are you drawn to the contemplative life, and to the call for social justice and peacemaking, but with plenty of questions as to how to put these two important callings together? Perhaps this retreat/event is calling to you. We hope you will join us.