At the beginning of this month I was lucky enough to be a part of a weekend retreat – 24 hours away from the usual bustle and buzz of life in London, in the beautiful setting of the Quadrangle. LIFE (Local Initiative for Faith and the Environment) is a group, working with women in Lambeth, to bring them together over inter-faith dialogue and the environment. The Quadrangle is a farmstead in Shoreham, Kent – lovingly restored, and sitting within the peaceful and quietly stunning Darent Valley, it provides a perfect space for community activities.
Rebecca Brewin and Saadat Yusuf of LIFE coordinated this 24 hours ‘LIFE-giving retreat’, taking a group of women from the usual busy-ness of their lives, and bringing them to the beauty and tranquility of the Kentish countryside. The weekend allowed each of us to experience life in a way we maybe forget too often, with the responsibilities and duties that we often need to attend to, before being able to attend to ourselves.
We were led in sessions of yoga, introduced to foraging, and walked together, surrounded by beauty and kissed by the sun. We cooked and ate together, had a sewing circle where we learnt to make something practical and pretty, and even sang together. And throughout the weekend, the warmth of true, heart-driven sharing permeated all that we did. In the reflections on Qur’an and eco-poetry session that I held, I was warmed to hear people really speaking honestly and reflectively, and this authenticity and genuine interest was something recurrent throughout our time together.
‘Together’ – I keep using this word to describe our time away, and really for me, it sums up so much the feeling that the weekend left me with – a feeling of having really shared and learnt from these women in a way I could never do alone, or even when surrounded by people, but without that openness and naturalness. ‘Warm glow’ became my default setting for the time there, and I carried the tranquility and happiness from the weekend forward with me when I returned again to the buzzing of London town.
Here are a few pictures from my time at the Quadrangle with this lovely group of women, and a link to some others. I look forward to the next time I can experience such a warm meeting of hearts and minds.