Back garden of the retreat house (Devon, UK)
So, this blogger turned 40 recently.Yep. Snuck up on me.Let me explain.I was born and raised in the Caribbean.Left in my early 20’s.Returned for a brief time a year and a half later, then immigrated to the USA. Lived, worked, and studied there for more than a decade. Five years ago, I came to the UK to study, and except for an absence of 7 months, have been here ever since. It’s like I went to bed at 30 and woke up at 40.
I wanted to do something new, and unconventional, for this coming of age time in my life.So I decided to attend a weekend poetry, prayer, and meditation retreat. Led by none other, than fellow poet Ann Lewin, author of Watching for the Kingfisher.If you don’t know who she is, you need to.Grab the book! She is a true wordsmith, and one of the most sought after retreat leaders in the UK.
I was picked up from the train station by the owner of the retreat, Jane, who is also a Reverend. I would spend the next two days with a group of complete strangers, in a meditators’ paradise. It was very easy to see why Ann’s reputation preceded her. Effortless, amazing, meaningful, and powerful.
The experience was beyond my expectations.I was so well taken care of.Welcomed with love, warmth, and kindness. Treated like a long-lost friend.There was ample alone time.We were encouraged to use it spent in reflection, on the on the day’s discussion.To be aware, listen, contemplate, and remain open to, and welcome kingfisher moments.
A bit about the book Ann is well-known for.She was attending an event in Sussex, where guests reported seeing a kingfisher, one of the most hard to spot birds. To her dismay, she didn’t.The experience changed her, because she was the avid birdwatcher in the group.She wasn’t paying attention.She further explained; we miss moments of clarity, answers to prayers,etc, simply because we are not allowing ourselves to be in the moment.
The retreat just wasn’t about us.Ann dedicated a special session to pray for the rest of the world.We gathered in a circle, surrounding a large map of the world.A collection of small, smooth stones was placed on the four corners. We each placed stone(s) on the areas of the world we were concerned about, and shared this with the group.Ann closed the meeting by offering up a prayer on behalf of the group. Incredibly moving.
On Sunday, we participated in a Eucharist, led by Rev Taylor. We partook communion, sang, and prayed. I read from Psalm 84:1-4. Both the Reverend and Ann asked for special blessings on my life today, my birthday, and the next decades of my life. I couldn’t have been more overwhelmed, by the intercessory prayers offered on my behalf!
Well wishers signed my birthday card.Ann wrote the following words:”May you have many kingfisher moments as you journey on. With every good wish”. I also got a signed copy of her book.Another lady bought me a porcelain cross from the gift shop.After lunch, the group sang the traditional Happy Birthday song and I shared chocolate birthday cake, bought and paid for by house.Tears welled up in my throat, as I fought to hold back the emotions.I told them I would never forget the weekend, and I meant it.
I didn’t want to leave.I will take the memory of this incredibly special birthday weekend with me. I was enveloped in an environment, so peaceful, it was hard to imagine returning to the normal day to day. I had a few kingfisher moments. I was reminded God is aware of me, and he will take care of me. Always have, and always will.
Thank you Ann Lewin, Rev Taylor, your staff, and volunteers. We didn’t want for anything. Diane, for our chats and dodgy internet hogging. Inga for your thoughtful gift. Shelagh for our new, budding friendship. And to all the other attendees.I loved every minute. Because you were there, at the right time and right place. I will be forever grateful.
Until the next post,