Over 125 people nights in our first five weeks of living at Mays Farm. 550 meals served. And still no hob or Aga.
From not a single shower (or loo) working the first night, to 6 full working bathrooms.
Arriving on Thursday July 18, moving in that morning - and our first brave retreatant arriving that afternoon.
She unpacked the kitchen china.
5 communion services.
Many lovely sessions of Lectio Divina and Imaginative Prayer.
Compline in the garden. In the Library. By candlelight. In silence or aloud.
Blessing people as only He can.
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Some were old friends; some we had never met before.
They were young and old, ordained or not, local or far away.
Africa, America, Nepal, London, Birmingham, Oxford, Huntingdon, ..... Some had flown from overseas specially, just for a Preview Retreat.
They stayed for free, took part in retreat life morning and evening, but helped for hours each afternoon.
Gardening, decorating, unpacking, creating ....
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This last week has been another walking retreat. This time we were all fast walkers and the walks of 6 or 7 miles each morning were a delight in the late summer sun. Castle Combe, Norton, Gorsey Leaze, Surrendell, East Dunley, Lower Dene, Ford - we strode across fields and through woods. Until the moments when we went slow, slower, slowest, to appreciate that we are 'fearfully and wonderfully made.' (Psalm 139)
Something else was fearfully and wonderfully made - or wonderfully complex, as one translation says. Peter and Richard, two enthusisatic and gifted amateur carpenters, decided to make the communion table for the chapel, from wood found in the house. They had never met before, never worked together before. But the American and the Englishman have created a thing of great beauty which will be used for many years to come in our little chapel. It was amazing to see it take shape over the days.
While they were hard at work as carpenters, others were decorating the sitting room. Ready for future retreatants to sit in comfort to read, relax, reflect.
Or clearing the ivy on the drystone walls in the newly refreshed courtyard.
And further up the garden path, the gazebo gradually take shape in the wild flower meadow.
And so the Preview Retreats have come to an end.
The house is quiet and at rest.
But already we have some bookings for retreats in the Autumn.
When are you coming?
Come alone; or with your small group, your leadership team, your family or friends.
Come for some peace at this place of spiritual sanctuary and sweetness.
Come and take time to abide in the Vine.
Jesus said, "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who abide in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
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We have been blessed by those who have come on retreat and given so much of their time and energy.
Our prayer is that The Vine @ Mays Farm will be a blessing to many over the months and years ahead.