Reflections on a women's retreat

By Jenny Prior

Posted in Faith


Looking from the balcony, a dense cluster of houses stood between the water and me. Happily, our house was isolated from neighbours by bushland. I breathed in the island’s serenity. Soon other women from Hallett Cove Uniting Church would leave behind their mainland lives and join me on retreat on Hindmarsh Island.

Every second spring a Women’s Retreat is offered by Hallett Cove Uniting Church. Women take a big step and a short drive away from the demands of home, family and work to gather together and live in community for a weekend.

Our first Women’s Retreat was held in 2013. A verse from Matthew 11 – ‘Come away with me and I will give you rest’ - lingered with me and prompted me to create a space for myself and others to find rest in God. We trialled a Retreat format which is still used. A weekend of essential nurturing activities: delicious meals, a games night, home cooked goodies, an exploratory walk in our surroundings, spiritual nurturing, dinner out and a DVD night. There is minimal work. We all bring food for the first night and everyone helps clean up. The spaces between 'doing' are longer. There is time to breathe, admire God's Creation and listen to each other.

Our Minister, Rev Christine Manning, has been involved in the planning for the last two years. She has blessed our weekends with spiritual nurturing, devotions and shared Communion.

We have bonded through the good times and the more challenging – rising rain water in a bedroom at Victor Harbor, illness and a flat tyre at Hindmarsh Falls (and yes, we women changed it). We’ve been to Victor Harbor, Port Willunga, Myponga and Hindmarsh Island. Not quite everywhere. Yet.

Some women choose to visit for Saturday only so Retreat locations are close by. Friday night starts with shared dinner and then board games. ‘Sequence’ is a favourite and this year we learnt ‘Domino Trains’. Group games are such fun.

We started the next day with a breakfast of Bircher muesli and once our day trippers arrived, we set off to explore the bushland surrounding our holiday house. ‘Skippy’ was spotted through the trees. We walked to a high point to view boats in the marina and headed back for a morning cuppa. After morning tea we studied the teachings of Christian Mystic, Teresa of Avila. We learnt a little of her Prayer of Quiet and journalled our thoughts and reflections. There were Limón sweets and Yemas (the traditional egg sweet of St Teresa’s home town). We followed this with a study on Psalm 121 and St Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer, both of which affirm God’s protective presence with us. Our last session of the day was a time of Christian Meditation. Chimes brought us back from our inward journey to the room of peaceful seated women.

We had time to watch one DVD before dinner and another after. Sunday was a time of reflecting, and being thankful for this time away of thinking and connecting. We shared Communion, tidied our temporary home and headed off to Port Elliot for a walk, window shop and lunch. The Steam Ranger bustled past our café hurrying on to its next destination. Soon, our bustling and busy lives would resume. We left with a sense of inner peace and knowledge of the Peace-giver, to whom we can turn at any time.


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