This year (2014) marks the 10th anniversary of my involvement with the Annunciation Trust. It is also the year when I reach the age when I will receive my state pension! A couple of landmarks on my journey both of which seem significant to me. It is impossible now to imagine my life without spiritual direction, though up to 17 years ago I barely knew of its existence. This year I have reduced the number of people I see for SD to 25, and I see them each three times a year. I also lead occasional quiet days, retreats and training events. I have ‘retired’ from the Bradford Diocesan Spirituality Group after 15 years, and from my involvement with courses facilitation for new spiritual directors. I will miss this especially. Being part of the Annunciation Trust for the past 10 years has been both formative and supportive.
Since completing my work as Hospital Chaplain in 2011, I have been offering spiritual direction and supervision, mostly at home and at the London Spirituality Centre, and I lead the 3rd year of the Ignatian Spirituality Course.
I have been growing into my environs in Stockwell, attempting prayerfully and mindfully to walk the streets close to my flat and the local park. Beauty and terror live cheek by jowl. In this context I have been writing some thoughts on the body and prayer at this body.
The basic rhythm of my life remains constant and deeply satisfying. I see people for spiritual direction at home in Pershore, and travel to London eight times a year, Lincolnshire three times, and Harrogate three times, to see people there. I keep three separate ‘sabbatical’ months each year which gives me times to ‘explore’. Last year I travelled twice to Finland and will return there this autumn and go on to visit Norway. I have led the occasional Quiet Day locally. Life feels rich and I count myself a lucky man.
We moved to Pershore three years ago on my ‘retirement’ and it felt than as if God was sending us here. I’m no wiser why but no doubt that will become clear in time. It might simply be so that we can enjoy and be nourished by the beauty of the local countryside : that would be reason enough!
Much of my time since we moved to Birlingham has been spent creating a garden here which continually brings me into a deeper awareness of “nature is never spent; there lives the dearest freshness deep down things;”(G M Hopkins). Michael Main encouraged us never to lose our sense of wonder and I find mine grows with the passing years in spite of so much happening in the world which could destroy it. Perhaps having a brush with breast cancer and turning 70 has helped me.
I see a few people for spiritual direction and am happy for the number to increase.
The Franciscan Third Order flourishes in this area and is always a source of challenge and blessing to me. Times of solitude whether spent in zazen, reading, walking or gardening continue to nourish the inner woman and allow me to be present to my family and growing friendships.
I am grateful to my fellow members of the Trust for their love and support.
Sr Rachel Overton
I have been a part of the Annunciation Trust for just three years. The friendship, love and support of my colleagues has made possible the continual work within a ministry that by its very nature is isolating and on the edge of the institutional Church.
These last three years have been very rich and varied as I have become more established in my lifestyle as a solitary and beginning to explore something of the nature of the silence and stillness that we carry within us, rather than simply experiencing silence as something that we enter into outside of ourselves or ‘over there’.
Work has evolved into a mixture of one to one work in spiritual direction and group work and this year I have been co-leading and teaching on the spiritual direction course for Peterborough and Leicester dioceses. All of these carry their different challenges and all are a privilege to engage with others in.
Music continues to provide both inspiration and relaxation for me: playing the harp and recently experimenting with sounding a singing bowl has recently provided food for thought around the idea of ‘resonance’.
This year sees the silver jubilee of my original profession as a religious and after joining me for a service of thanksgiving at Peterborough Cathedral in late October, we will be celebrating our various anniversaries and landmarks of life, together at our next meeting in November.