In the summer of 1914, my great uncle Frank, Bishop of Zanzibar and Tanganyika, delivered a series of retreat addresses to the Associates of the Community of the Sacred Passion, an order of sisters he had founded a few years previously. The talks were delivered without notes, arising spontaneously from his own meditations on the Scriptures and close walk with the Lord. Providentially, one of the Associates transcribed his words at the time. They were later published under the title In his Will.
Over the course of this coming year I hope to send out many extracts from his writings, sometimes sticking close to the original, and at other times freely adapting beyond Frank’s original inspiration
The beautiful oboe music that accompanies this first offering is by Corelli and Sammartini, played for us by Thomas Herzog. The piece concludes with Grace Nadine’s song, ‘Lord Hear us,’ sung by Sue Perks, and with Simon Bernard Smith on the panpipes.
These are words and music that bring the stillness of the Lord. We pray you will find them a doorway into spending time in communion with Him, so that they bring a rich flavour of retreat rhythm into everyday life.
The Joy and Meaning of Retreat
Think of Me as eternal, quiet,
the still and changeless One.
Offer Me all the unquiet restlessness
that disturbs your heart.
I am here this day, Lord,
because You have put it into my heart to come
and because it’s Your desire for me to do so.
You made me for Yourself so that I might share more deeply in Your heart,
and partner with You in Your work.
With all my heart I intend to attend to You,
cultivating this precious gift of silence,
shutting out from my mind every distracting thought
and all the busyness of the day.
Then I can make a place where You can speak
and I can hear Your voice above all other noise.
I know I do not always live up to this, Lord,
but you hear my desire to set times and places asid
to commune and be alone with You.
Right now, Lord, I’m laying aside all fixed ideas and plans
and am looking away from myself and my worries,
bringing everything to You.
I’m coming like a little child, Lord,
waiting upon You in the face of all and everything
with humble confidence,
in simplicity and penitence.
For You alone are God and I can be humble and hopeful,
wearing humility as a habit and exuding Your presence.
As you place yourself quietly in My presence,
You will see that I am always seeking you.
It is in mercy that I have brought you to this place,
and bid you sit at My feet in stillness and confidence.
I am the First and the Last,
the Living One, and you are the work of My hands.
Rejoice that your life is hidden with Christ in Me,
and that everything you need comes from Me.
Sometimes, when the sense of My presence all but overcomes you,
it is because I am pouring My love into you;
The All-Sufficient One caring for the all-dependent,
reminding you that My desire is to be in eternal union with you.
Whatever else I choose to do, or to bestow on you, is up to Me;
your task is to surrender yourself completely to Me,
depending on Me moment by moment.
Don’t let your desire to acquire or achieve something – even spiritual things –
exceed your desire for My will to be accomplished in and through you.
What else can I do at such times but to lift up my heart in adoration to You, Lord?
Set a guard over my heart to keep me from longing for anything else, or anything less, and from turning to things which would wound Your heart and thwart Your purposes.
Thank You that I can be humble about the past,
humble about the present,and hopeful as I think of the future.
God, You are coming to me right now,
I am in the presence of Creative Love,
alone with the Spirit who made me,
and who makes it possible to enjoy this profound union with You
from one day to the next.
I shall return from these set-apart times to pick up my daily routine,
carrying this atmosphere of peace within me,
that quiet power of recollectedness which comes
because I know that Your Spirit dwells within me:
the Eternal Power, the ultimate force in the whole Universe.
To Me all creation will one day kneel and bow
and I am beckoning you to come up higher
and walk the narrow highway that leads to My dwelling place.
The door is open,
and you are invited into the courts of the King of Kings,
to share the place of the One who knelt at the feet of His friends,
then passed triumphant through the grave,
to receive His royal crown and kingdom.
Lord, I see very dimly,
and know so very little
but You see the whole picture
and have planned only the very best.
In every situation there are so many choices I could make.
You who circle the globe with wind and waves,
and call them to obedience,
may I find the way that pleases You most.
How can I doubt Your power and artistry in dealing with even the most puzzling and complicated of circumstances?
Yes, may I find the way that pleases You most.
Do not be impatient, My child.
Over-busyness – like outright rebellion – is exhausting to your soul.
Fear and doubt are infectious, but so too are trust and acceptance;
and nothing comes close to the intimacy I fold around you.
Why watch yourself when you could be watching Me?
When you look at Me, you will see My arms stretched out to you –
and your open heart will bring you to a still greater awareness of Mine.
It is more than I can imagine, being one in mind and heart with the One who rules the Universe,
yet for the small cost of an act of self-committal that is what You are offering.
May I not disappoint You, Lord,
nor all who have trusted in You and gone before me in the faith through the centuries.
May I not murmur against the way by which You are leading me.
Keep me from those crippling regrets and pointless ‘if onlys’
which would have me believe that You can find no way to lead me forward.
Jesus, You sit on the throne that belongs to You as the triumphant Son of Man,
while Your Spirit inspires and gathers the worship of all Your faithful followers
in glorious unbroken partnership,
You have set me on this pathway and pilgrimage,
and You alone know how to bring it is to its safe conclusion.
I choose afresh to follow You this day, dear Lord,
and gladly follow where You lead.