“Decentering the self, making room for the Other of God through humility and obedience, entails the discipline of hospitality. It means making room in oneself for all who challenge us to move beyond the narrow confines of self-absorption, self-fixation, self-preoccupation. Through constant hospitality the monk is able to make room for the other: the other person, other people, and the Other who is God.”
This sums up the ethos and ministry of Holland House very well. Christian hospitality is about making room in our hearts for the other, the table always open and space made ready. In the context of this particular Christian house it means welcoming everyone of whatever faith, gender, sexuality, race or nationality, in the name of Christ, through his Spirit of gracious generosity and infinite love as witnessed by the Gospels and expressed in the writings of the Apostles.
Holland House also seeks to provide the space, time and ethos that will facilitate an authentic encounter with self, the other and the Divine – whether on retreat, at a business meeting with colleagues, walking in the gardens, or sitting in quiet prayer and meditation. “But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matt 6.6)
The room is the chamber of the heart, and the ‘reward’ is simply the experience of knowing that through prayer, meditation or contemplation, the presence of God dwells deeply within you, so that you might know the truth of Jesus’s words “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (Jn 17.21)
Holland House boldly states that it seeks to be “in harmony with creation”. Being in harmony with Creation means finding harmony with other faith traditions. Holland House seeks to encourage people from other traditions to use the House and to share their spiritual treasures with us. Each year, we hold three Interfaith days where people from the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh faiths meet together to share elements of one another’s traditions. The Trustees of Holland House see this as an important and growing area of our ministry and work.
Being in harmony with Creation also means understanding our place as individuals, groups, and human beings in a creation filled with many other kinds of ‘beings’. To support this, we developed ‘Forty Ways To Live In Harmony’ by looking after our gardens organically, paying attention to habitat and encouraging insects, birds, mammals and reptiles to make our grounds their home. We carefully purchase food and ingredients, sourcing locally and sustainably whenever possible. We are founder members of the Sustainable Restaurant Association and our housekeeping team clean the House with eco-friendly products. These are also deeply important expressions of our spirituality.
This two day Individually Guided Retreat (IGR) provides space for us to be completely honest about our relationship with God (or any other name or term we might use). Even people of longstanding and dedicated faith can feel that they’ve never really found God, and that, after many years of belief, God remains a distant idea. Some find traditional images and concepts provide more problems than solutions and, although there’s a yearning to discover the truth, all roads seem to lead to dead-ends and frustration. Where to go?
Need to step back for a while and take a view as to what has happened in your life, your faith, your health or work? If there’s one certainty in life, it’s that things change – including long-held beliefs, aspirations and desires. This has certainly been the experience of many people during the Covid pandemic which has either highlighted or exacerbated a variety of feelings affecting our sense of well-being and security.
“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land — a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills.”Deuteronomy 8:7