Picture shows a whitewashed building with a thatched roof. A large cross is on the end of the building.

Retreat at Sheldon

Observant readers may note that I am about three weeks behind in these posts. By the time I get round to writing about today, I will be back at work (Hurrah!).

Did you know? You can leave comments on these posts. Click on the title of a post (e.g. “Retreat at Sheldon”, above) and scroll to the bottom of the post.

One of the three aspects of Extended Study Leave is Retreat. I booked onto an R5 week at the Sheldon Retreat Centre in Devon (South of Exeter – in the Teign Valley). The five ‘R’s are: Read, Retreat, Rest, Relax, Recuperate. The community there specialise in helping clergy in distress, but they are also very welcoming to clergy not in distress and lay people too. There were a mixture of people there at the same time as me.

Picture shows a whitewashed building with a thatched roof. A large cross is on the end of the building.

One of the great joys of Sheldon is their strict “no clergy shop talk” rule. This means you have the freedom to be yourself, without any of the baggage that comes from being in a particular ministry role. It also means there is no pressure to talk about how well or badly your role is going. They also offer one-to-one sessions to guide and support.

The week I was there included a resident artist, who was available every morning to offer suggestions in the art room for what you might create. It was really restful and I had great fun making… no, on this I will remain silent for now since I’ve set the thing I made aside for J’s birthday.

There was a good amount of knitting time that week – I made a lot of progress on the big lace poncho, but also knitted some juggling balls (thuds, to use the correct terminology). I don’t seem to have taken a photo – if I remember I’ll come and add one in here later (edit – I did remember). They were fiddly to make, but very satisfying to use.

Picture shows three knitted balls, held in a hand against a blurred background. The knitting is two-colour stranded, each ball using black as the main colour and then either red, blue or yellow for the contrast.

The aspect of the week I most appreciated was the space to think and pray. There are acres of grounds where you can walk almost undisturbed except by other people also on retreat. The wider area is also beautiful countryside and there are plenty of walks possible. Away from the demands of work and family, I found it very easy to pray and discern God’s voice. The question remains – how can I find similar quality space and time in daily life?

During the week, I went back to one of the spiritual classics that I read in the early days of my adult faith: Richard Foster’s A Celebration of Discipline. Definitely scope to spend more time with this in the next few months.

I’ll finish this post with a few pictures from around the Sheldon estate and from slightly further afield.







One response to “Retreat at Sheldon”

  1. Sue Towers avatar
    Sue Towers

    Really interesting blog. I love the juggling balls!!