What had begun as the dream of two RSCJ photographers, Janet Hopper and Margaret Wilson, took place between 21st and 25th August 2017, at Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire.
The aim of the week was to offer a retreat which would allow the participants to discover the depth of contemplation through the use of photography.
Each day followed a different theme and began with input from either Janet or Margaret. The first evening gave us time to get to know the grounds and the Abbey. Ampleforth not only provided many opportunities to walk in nature and seek inspiration from the Abbey Church itself, but also allowed us to sink into the monastic rhythm. Matins was at 6 am and the day was punctuated by the Offices (all of which were optional for the retreatants).
The themes covered during the week were:
Receiving rather than taking photos – the contemplative practice
What is hidden and revealed - photography as discernment
Colour - its meaning and importance to us
Seeing the Holy in us and everywhere.
Each evening Siobhan Burke RSCJ led us in a reflection on the day and used a form of Lectio Divina as well as poetry. This helped to recall key points of the day as a review which then led to sharing as people felt able to.
Lorraine Pratt RSCJ was with us for two nights and on the second night invited us to use our body in prayer.
On Friday morning the days were drawn together using the theme of thanksgiving and the invitation was to reflect on the week and see what we were grateful for. We finished the morning bringing photographs that expressed this and Janet put them together in a lovely visual MAGNIFICAT.
It was a truly blessed week and the feedback we received indicates that we should do it again.
Siobhan Burke rscj, Janet Hopper rscj and Margaret Wilson rscj