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A 4 Day Retreat at Coolock House, South Coast, KZN
The content of this clearly planned retreat, “condenses the accumulated wisdom of Thomas Keating’s many years of teaching and practice into nine essential areas of study, reflection and spiritual growth for our time.”
One arrives with one’s past experience of retreats. What I experienced in the four days at Coolock House challenged my expectations! I am so grateful for that experience of consolidating and expanding my spiritual theology and experience.
Kit McLoughlin from Johannesburg, who had participated in a longer Heartfulness retreat over 8 days in New York, was our very able facilitator. He did a remarkable job of fitting the nine segments into the four days we had. Ideally one needs a ten day retreat to work through the material and give sufficient time for reflection and transformation.
Once I realized this was to be a chance to familiarize ourselves with the material and the methods suggested, I relaxed and enjoyed the process, as well as times of Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina and the daily Eucharist. I love the silence of retreats, and this one was strictly silent for the whole time. What a gift!
I am deeply grateful to Kit for his careful preparation and his gracious presentation and leading of the process. He allowed lots of possibilities and space for the process, but also kept us going so that we could cover all the material. He provided us with notes and references for each session, and some of us had the opportunity of facilitating some sections.
The material was focused around DVDs of Thomas Keating speaking to an interviewer, Betty Sue Flowers. This helped the content of the teaching to be more conversational. Each presentation was about 20 minutes.
The nine segments were:
- The Pursuit of Happiness
- The Human Condition
- Centering Prayer
- Love and the Trinity
- Divine Indwelling
- Divine Transformation
Coolock House was a wonderful place to be, with very comfortable accommodation, generous and delicious meals and space to reflect. Great thanks to Sr. Emmanuel and her staff for their love and hospitality.
A lot of discussion at the end of the retreat was centred on how to present the materials and the experience in a way that could be accessible to people in their normal lives. Ideally a retreat that lasted at least 8 days is needed, but there are many other ways of making this excellent experience available to people. We will be hearing of creative offerings that will be ways of experiencing and reflecting upon the depths of Thomas Keating’s spiritual theology, and entering into a deeper contemplative life-style.
The whole experience would not have been as unique without the organization and personal care of every participant given us by Elizabeth Norton-Amor. Her gracious, unobtrusive care of everyone, set a tone that demonstrated Heartfulness.