Trust in the Holy Spirit and trust in the team

Published on 31 Jul 2019
A road in the Yorkshire Dales

Jean Marsh reflects on a week of guided prayer at St. Stephen’s Church, Skipton, with the team from The Briery Retreat Centre, Ilkley

My view is that of an outsider (at least at the beginning of the week). This was my first visit to Skipton, and the Church on the Hill, St. Stephen’s.   Its geographical location, at the top of a steep hill, in itself seemed part of the spiritual journey. This was a truly remarkable week and I felt  privileged to be one of the four accompaniers who journeyed with the nineteen retreatants in this very blessed time.

The attention to detail in the planning  and organisation of the week by Florence Begley, a parishioner of St.Stephen’s, and  Linda Pennington, both members of the Briery team, in the months preceding, meant that we all knew our parts in making it possible for the retreatants to enter the retreat as fully as they wished. At the opening meeting on Sunday 6th the depth of prayer and clear directions, verbal and written, on the shape and content of the week, were no small contributors to making it all work smoothly.    

As a result of this, as an accompanier, I felt the benefit of being able to give my full attention to my  retreatants.  It was a good sign that they all turned up for their five individual sessions, Monday to Friday.  As is usual in Week of Guided Prayer, the focus of the week was on exploring and deepening our relationships  with God through prayer.  We were all inspired by the genuineness of the retreatants’ search for Truth and in  their ability  to articulate their places on this journey.

The venue, St. Stephen’s, was clearly in a state of flux…but oddly enough had all the key ingredients to make the week a success…a wonderful welcoming team of bright, warm, intelligent women who knew how to nurture, not least in the delicious meals they provided. Mary’s unobtrusive watchfulness meant no gaps appeared. Having the same room for the week meant my retreatants had a secure base.  Florence, Linda and Margaret (Jones)’ retreatants similarly  had  their bases.  

We the accompaniers, with the addition of Rose and Greg McCrave took responsibility for the evening sessions:

Monday:      Lectio Divina
Tuesday :      Imaginative contemplation
Wednesday: Discernment and Decision Making  
Thursday :     Praying with Art 
Friday:            Closing Meeting   

This felt like a breakthrough, to do with trust in the Holy Spirit and trust in the team.  The evenings were very well attended, affirming us as we all did our best to share different ways of opening ourselves to the presence of an unconditionally loving  God.

I had not met Father Andrew, the parish priest, before the week and was impressed that he trusted I had the wherewithal to do the guiding on Florence’s say so.

I valued the supervision in the week…we are all more vulnerable under pressure and it is good to have a trusted other to prevent our own needs for reassurance etc. coming into play in the sessions.

We worked well as a team, offering and receiving support and camaraderie in the downtime .

Jean Marsh 

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