On 9th – 11th February 2018, members of the Wellspring community, Peckham, went on a weekend retreat to Hilfield friary, a Franciscan friary in Dorset, south west England. As a Franciscan friary, you would expect it to be steeped in symbolism of Saint Francis of Assisi. It didn’t disappoint! Other than a statue of the man himself, the blessing of Saint Francis was framed on my bedroom wall, and his motto “Pax et bonum” (peace and goodwill) could be found in various spots around the friary.
The weekend was spent joining in with the life of the community, their Daily Office and meal times. This meant getting up for morning prayer at 7.30am, followed by breakfast, midday office, lunch, evensong and compline… of course, we did have some rest in between!
As part of the retreat, we also had the pleasure of exploring John Chapter 4, The Woman at The Well, with Hilda Mary from Sisters of the Church, who came especially to lead our group. Each session Hilda Mary would lead us in a Lectio Divina on the text, taking us deeper into this incredible encounter between Jesus and the woman at the well. Through it, we re-discovered what it means to be 'seen' and 'known' by Christ, as well as the wellbeing and salvation we can receive through having an intimate encounter with Jesus.
As a community, we all found the weekend to be very enriching and encouraging. I can also say for myself that it has very much re-energised my attitude to prayer and the bible. If you haven’t been on a retreat, I strongly recommend that you go on one!