9th: Absence and Presence – an Ascensiontide Day Retreat


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It is this great absence
that is like a presence, that compels
me to address it without hope
of a reply. It is a room I enter

from which someone has just with
gone, the vestibule for the arrival
of one who has not yet come.
I modernise the anachronism

of my language, but he is no more here
than before. Genes and molecules
have no more power to call
him up than the incense of the Hebrews

at their altars. My equations fail
as my words do. What resources have I
other than the emptiness without him of my whole
being, a vacuum he may not abhor?
(R S Thomas, The Absence)

This quiet day will explore the meaning of the ascension through an encounter with themes of absence and presence. It will use New Testament narratives, poetry, and some music of separation.

This retreat is led by Helen Stanton, theologian, spiritual director, and Warden of Holland House. A lay woman, for 25 years before coming to Holland House Helen trained people to be Anglican and Methodist clergy.

Day starts at 10am and concludes with tea and cake at 4pm, 2 course lunch included