I went on a walking retreat this afternoon at Mottisfont Abbey. A lot has happened since this time last Friday, and I knew I’d need some space to process and recover, so I booked this a few weeks ago. My plan was to have a rather lovely mostly quiet time in the sun, with a bit of reflection thrown in. There was going to be newly mown grass, birdsong, gently flowing water, sunlight dappled through the trees. I had it all planned.
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!
I am neither a mouse nor a man, but my scheme certainly went awry, pretty much as my schemes have done all week.The weather was horrid. It was blustery, at times it poured with rain, and it was very cold. There was no point where I felt inclined to lie on the grass and look at the sky. In the beginning, I felt more inclined to give up and go home. But I was given space, things to reflect upon, and the opportunity to look closely at the world around me, in the company of others. Oh, yes, and so much for being solitary, this was a group experience.
On paper, the afternoon should have been hideous. Instead it was transformative. I was reminded that rivers are defined by their flow, by the fact that they are always changing. I listened to the sound of water cascading over rocks, and the wind fighting through the trees, and I couldn’t tell the difference between them. I considered unfurling ferns, and what it means to unfurl your heart. I saw and felt the strength of the trees, and imagined their roots. I stood braced against the rushing wind and driving rain, and I met the wildness of the untamed Holy Spirit.
I didn’t have a sweet simple restful afternoon. I am, truth be told, knackered. But I am renewed and refreshed. I will sing to the Lord a new song.