Aoradh Easter service…

We are just back from a lovely Easter service.

Thanks to the kindness of Aileen, one of our local ministers, we were given permission to use the beautiful Inverchaolain Chapel- out along Loch Striven. It is a small simple stone building, cupped in the bowl of the hills next to the Loch.

Audrey led us through a liturgy, using some ideas borrowed from Tabled- which is a fantastic collection of creative ideas for communion. We used two objects- one was a crown of thorns suspended with little baskets containing frozen cubes of wine, which dripped down onto a silver tray and a white cloth. The other was a loaf of bread into which we asked people to push nails. The images were powerful and Audrey’s words complimented them wonderfully.

(By the way- if you try the frozen wine thing, bear in mind that wine does not freeze very well- better to use water with some food colouring.)

Afterwards we went back to Andy and Angela’s as the planned picnic was rather rained off. No matter though, we took with us something precious that brought a deeper sense of the death of Jesus, and his resurrection then, and through us, now.

Opening worship…

We had an Aoradh meeting tonight to plan some activities. We talked about a ‘benches’ event (using benches as meditations stations, possibly in conjunction with Cowalfest,) a Labyrinth, and we also had a long conversation about plans to collaborate with some friends in a local church in the creation of a new regular worship service.

This is a new departure for us for several reasons- firstly it would amount to a regular ‘service’ (however loosely we understand what this might mean.)

However, it also opened up a lot of discussion about what is meaningful to us in worship. Some of us still just love to sing. Others lived in the shadow of long experiences of overly manipulative music dominated worship services, in which we felt like we were being told what to do, what to experience, what to feel.

So, the journey continues; to find ways towards authentic, open hearted, hopeful, respectful and creative worship.

For me too there is still the challenge of finding how to use authentic, open hearted, respectful and creative worship music. For some time I have laid music aside. I still feel that I need to encounter wider ways to worship.

Tonight Michaela handed around some cards with images on made my Sieger Koder- they were a present from our friend Maggy, and part of a collection called ‘The Folly of God‘. They are intended as aides to contemplation and worship- in a purely visual sense. This is all a little alien to me really. I am much more driven by words.

But this is the point- to be open to the new. To be ready to be challenged, shaped changed by things that we encounter, take into ourselves, then give back.

Michaela has asked us to live with the image we picked and we will meet on Easter Sunday to speak about our experience.

Here are a couple of Koder’s paintings;

Wilderness retreat trips, 2012…

Now that the New Year is with us, lots of us are looking forward into all sorts of busyness. It could be also that you are seeking to plan in some periods of retreat, and if so, you might like to consider this…

We are planning a new venture for this year- along with three of my friends from Aoradh, we are organising a series of ‘Wilderness Retreats’. These retreats form part of several micro enterprises that have grown out of what we do – a way of integrating faith with life which I am finding very exciting and hopeful. The ideas and activities have emerged from yearly retreats that we have been doing as a community for many years now – usually with invited ‘guests’ – and also from other forms of worship using wild locations that we have been experimenting with.

The retreats have been special experiences for us, for some of the following reasons-

  • The amazing locations- tiny Hebridean islands, part of a rich Celtic tradition of retreat
  • The ‘noisy’ silence- away from mobile signals, e mails, facebook
  • The wildlife- otters, eagles, seals, a thousand sea birds
  • The company- the lovely experience of sitting around a fire side and dreaming dreams together
  • And perhaps most of all the chance to find inner stillness

If the possibility of being part of something like this excites you, then please get in touch!

It might be possible to make this trip part of a bigger trip up to Scotland, or even part of a trip to the UK! If you want some advice as to options- again feel free to get in touch.

These retreats are not intended for hard core outdoor fitness types. You do not need to be ultra fit or prepared for the north face of the Eiger. If you can hop around rocks, and can cope with the possibility of being cold and wet with stoicism, then this is enough.

Here is some information from our publicity shot-

Do you love wild places?

Are you looking to find time to rest and reflect?

Are you hungry to make a deeper spiritual connection?

If so, we would like to invite you to come and be part of one of our wilderness retreats…

Wild places do something to the soul…

Here in Dunoon we are on the fringes of some of the most amazing wild places; lochs, mountains, forest, seascapes and small uninhabited islands. Opportunities for being immersed in wilderness – with all the glory and all the vulnerabilities of this – are everywhere.

Following an old Celtic tradition, we have been looking for ways to allow the shape of the landscape to become the means by which we might approach the divine; caves, rivers, mountain tops, small islands.

There is no better place to do this than here – the west coast of Scotland, and the small Argyll islands in particular, are marked everywhere by the passage of other pilgrims, for example the many monastic sites from the time of the missionary Celtic saints.

We invite you to journey with us into this generous tradition. All are welcome – from all faith backgrounds, or none.

There is information about some of our previous trips here-Jura, Eileach an Naoimh, Scarba, The McCormaig isles.

How does it work?

Our retreats typically take place over a long weekend – Saturday to Monday.  

They involve creating a small temporary community on one of the small uninhabited islands of the Inner Hebrides. These are stunningly beautiful places, rich in history, wildlife and the kind of peace that has to be experienced to be believed. All of our locations are well off the beaten track – they can only be reached by boat charter.

They are WILD places- exposed to the elements, with no amenities or comforts. Participants on these trips need to be prepared for this!  Please have a look at the kit list and general comments.

We will do the organisation, put together a programme and itinerary, charter a boat and provide spiritual exercises and activities to use together and alone. Each retreat will have at least two retreat leaders.

We will then lead you through the retreat, using a combination of times of sharing, times of silence and led meditations. Activities can be tailored to the needs and interests of the group- including varying degrees of challenge.

Retreat dates and costs

For the year ahead, we have two weekends fixed for retreats-

  • June the 22nd-25th  The Garvellachs. Cost £180 per person.
  • August the 17th-20th   The McCormaig Islands. Cost £150 per person.

(Deposit of £50 payable on booking. Full cost will be required if participant cancels later than four weeks prior to the event.)

If you are part of a group who are interested in another weekend, it may be possible to arrange a trip for you.

It is also possible to set up ‘mini expeditions’ for small groups/families. These would be typically for a day, or an evening. Contact us for details.

The things you do on a wet Saturday afternoon…

William, Michaela and I set up a poetry/meditation walk in Morag’s Fairy Glen this afternoon- it will be up for the duration of Cowalfest- and is part of Aoradh’s contribution to the walking and arts festival.

It started out moist, and finished soaking wet.

Here we are, suffering for the Kingdom-

(Photos by William.)

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Aoradh worship event materials…

A few folk asked about the use we put to images and other materials from our GB worship event.

I have uploaded them to Google docs and so they should be available here- https://docs.google.com/?tab=oo&authuser=0#query/vr?view=0&hidden=1&visibility=0

I have included a script and seperate versions of a couple of the poems used. The powerpoint doc was too big, but if anyone is interested, drop me a line and we will find a way!

Below are some of the slides of houses, which we displayed with the house beatitudes added.

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The spirituality to be found at a fireside…

This is a photograph taken on our recent retreat. I think the glow above the fire is an internal lens/filter reflection. Cheap filters are a problem I am told! But it looks like something has been created from our gathering- or perhaps the old truth that where we gather in his name, he is in the midst of us…

Gathering around a fire must be stamped somewhere in the middle of what it means to be human. After all, it must be just about our oldest form of social gathering.

There is a story about a micro technology project that visited a village in Africa, offering to install a solar powered lighting system. “Why do we need this?” asked the village elders. “What benefits would this bring to our people?” “Well,” replied the aid workers, “you will be able to work later in the evening, your children will be able to study and use computers and your wives will be able to prepare food more easily.” The elders considered for a while, then politely declined the offer of the electricity system. When asked why, they replied “There are enough hours in the day for work. In the evening, we gather round a fire and tell the stories that make us who we are.”

On our recent retreat, we gathered round a fire. It was tricky- there were no trees on the island and a fast tide race sweeping the shores clean, so we had to gather wood from nooks and crannies all over the rocky shores. We told stories of hopes and dreams, and prayed using incense that we scattered on the fire (to symbolise the fragrance of Jesus) and iron filings that sparked us into awareness of the power of the Spirit.

My your fireside be equally warm and welcoming, and may great stories be told…