Street Retreat

Last Saturday my colleague Rikke organised a ‘Street Retreat’. In spirituality ‘ a retreat’ is a time of quiet for meditation or prayer. The name suggests a drawing back from the usual activities to find time for God.  Retreats often take place therefore in places of quiet and calm – monasteries deep in the countryside would be the usual place. Going against the grain we decide the hold an afternoon for meditation in a place of urban noise and busyness – St. Pancras,Euston Road and Kings Cross.

 Rikke came across the idea in the work of the Church Urban Fund. They pioneered the idea to give people for a day of prayer in an area of urban deprivation. Here it is used to raise awareness of issues of poverty and social exclusion. It would certainly take most of us well outside out comfort zone. For us it was enough to offer a meditative experience in the city, the place we live our daily lives.

We began with a meditation in St Pancras Church. There were eleven of us and we then spent  the next two hours in our own in the city. Amidst the usual rushing crowds and traffic we walked alone. Free to watch the city and the people around us. Free from having to ‘do anything’ it is easier to pay attention to what is going on inside us. It is a different kind of time, a meditative time. So all that we saw and felt  was within a greater awareness of our self and a greater openness to God’s presence. A great thanks to everyone who took part in the experiment!

For more about Church Urban Fund on the background on Street Retreats


Sound of silence

Silent MetronomesSilent RCA began back in 2009 and grew out conversations with several students from different world views about the place of silence in our lives. One of these conversations about silence was with Josphine Winther from Jewellery. 

 Together we started to meet for 15 minutes of silence each week inviting others to join us. She has recently sent me a link to her work on silence  including her piece from the RCA Show 2010.

Initially Josephine explored the idea of having a sound proof room in the show to give people a taste of silence. However, the slowed down and silent metronomes lured visitors into a deep attentive listening and a special kind of silence in noisy chaos of the Show. We found ourselves leaning in towards the metronomes listening for and waiting for the metronomes to tick. But of course they never did and we keep on listening. Silence and stillness in the midst all the noise and activity of a busy gallery.

 Here’s a video of the the Silent Metronomes on her website.