Letter from David Sherwood
My dear friends
Have you ever been on retreat? I would recommend it, but it is not really necessary at the moment with our enforced restricted lives. Retreats are of two kinds, conducted and private. A conducted retreat is run by a leader who is often, but not necessarily, a priest and will often have a theme. A private retreat does not need a theme. You do your own reading and pray, including saying the offices. Life at present is similar to a retreat in that you are on your own, but ideally there should be no talking, in person nor on the phone. You learn the skills of silent meals, responding to the needs of others. If you go to a monastery or convent you can “plug-in” to the rhythm of life there. Your starting point will probably the internet so you get a flavour of what is happening and you can then book up for a few days.
You can use this imposed partial lockdown as a kind of dry run. If you value the times of quiet then a retreat is for you. If you struggle then you may benefit from a conducted retreat in which the conductor will give you some advice which you should help. Some people make their confession whilst there. We live in a noisy world where the opportunity for silence is limited. A retreat is a time for listening, mostly to God indicating how you should lead your life.
With my love, Fr David