The dying of the light and the rising of the dark: an Advent retreat
Advent arrives in the northern hemisphere at a time when a radical shift is taking place between the powers of light and darkness, the boundaries of day and night. The light is waning and the dark is growing. Some find this a depressing and dismal time, fearing the loss of light and the rising of the dark. Others welcome the coming of winter cold, darkness and an opportunity to retreat into the warm, indoor spaces and to attentive to the interior life.
In traditional Christian practice, Advent is a time for reflecting on the ‘four last things’: heaven and hell, death and judgement. Although these can seem alien, sombre and negative to contemporary seekers, they need not be. Winter is a time when it is natural to reflect on our mortality and to seek to discern the ultimate significance of our lives (which might be a way of thinking about ‘judgement’). Heaven and hell are not some far-off, spiritual locations but very much part of our everyday world, and it’s not hard to recognise both as realities in our current global situation.
In this retreat, we will take time to ponder the dying of the light and the rising of the dark, in both natural and spiritual terms. We will use poetry, scripture and other resources to explore these themes, and there will be opportunities for our own creative writing or other creative responses.
The pace will be gentle and there will be opportunities for silence and solitude, as well as shared exploration and conversation.
However you feel about winter and the approach of Christmas, why not step aside from the pressures many experience at this time of the year for a few days of calm, quiet and renewing encounter?
Nicola Slee is Professorial Research Fellow at the Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham, Professor of Feminist Practical Theology at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, and Visiting Professor at the University of Chester. She is an experienced leader of retreats and a well-known poet, writer and speaker. Her most recent book is Abba Amma: Improvisations on the Lord’s Prayer (Canterbury Press, 2022). From the Shores of Silence, edited by Ashley Cocksworth, Rachel Starr and Stephen Burns (SCM, 2023), is a collection of essays in honour of Nicola’s contribution to feminist practical theology.
Arrivals from 4pm on Friday and includes all meals, refreshments and accommodation.
Retreat concludes after lunch on Sunday.
If you wish to secure your place with a deposit, with the balance due 6 weeks before arrival, please purchase a ‘deposit’ here