Trying to think about life and how God makes it full

Retreat on the East Coast

101_59691.JPGFor the past 3 days I’ve been staying at Tollesbury, doing the spiritual input for the combined Retreat of 3 Christian Outdoor Centres: Fellowship Afloat Charitable Trust (FACT), Christian Youth Enterprises (CYE), and St. George’s House (SGH). The 3 Centres try to get together twice per year for mutual learning, encouragement, and relationship building. There are real synergies that develop where groups doing similar things in different contexts get together in intentional ways. They’re all such good people too, friendly, open to new learning, passionate about the outdoors and the Creator of the natural playgrounds that are also their places of work.

Naturally, there was also sailing to be done (my foot handled that very well, I’m pleased to say), along with 5-a-side football competition (won by FACT), quiz, and the usual FACT abundance of good food. The weather


was fabulous, and the photos are taken on Thursday morning as I sat on the deck of one of the accommodation boats enjoying coffee and sunshine while the tide came in – bliss!

Below, I’ve put the note I did for the 3 sessions I ran:

  1. Contemplative worship, centred around Ps 40:1-3, and helped with Johnny Cash and U2.
  2. Group Discussion questions prior to the input session.
  3. Input session on Liminality and Communitas, based on Luke 8:22-25.

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March 9, 2007 Posted by | communitas, contemplative, culture, Environment, god, jesus, liminality, mission, religion, wisdom | Leave a comment

Liminality and Communitas

Last weekend, I spent a wonderful day with my friends of Fellowship Afloat Charitable Trust (FACT). These are the crew who taught me to sail, and over the seven years I’ve known them, have become an important part of my life. The reason I spent the day with them, was that they were having their annual Away Day and they wanted me to have some input into their development as an organisation.

There are three main groups that make up FACT on a day like that: the Trustees, the Staff, and the Year Volunteer Staff. So I needed to ensure that I was engaging with all three groups throughout my session. But that was really good, as it actually gave the impetus for what I wanted to do, and what I thought was going to be a helpful way for them to engage with what they’re actually doing.

I drew heavily on material from Alan Hirsch’s new book, ‘The Forgotten Ways’; in particular, the chapter on ‘Communitas, not Community’. Here’s a quote from Alan’s book that I think is a good summary of what liminality and communitas is about:

‘…maturity and self-actualisation require movement and risk, and that adventure is actually good for the soul. They all teach that a deep form of togetherness and love is found when we emabark on a common mission of discovery, when we encounter danger together and have to find each other in the process in order to survive. We find all these elements in the way Jesus formed his disciples as together they embarked on a journey that took them away from their homes, family, and securities (be they social or religious) and set out on an adventure that involved liminality, risk, action-reflection learning, communitas, and spiritual discovery. On the way their fears of inadequacy and lack of provision faded, only to be replaced by a courageous faith that went on to change the world forever.’ (pp.240/1)

I wanted the FACT crew to engage with the concepts of Liminality and Communitas as I think that’s what they’re intuitively doing as an integral part of who they are and how they operate. But I didn’t think that they had the concepts or the language to articulate effectively that that was what they were doing. Once you’re tasted Liminality and Communitas in how you live and operate, nothing else comes close to really living. I’ve experienced it myself in the work I’ve done in NZ, Australia, and in London’s East End. But as a curate I’m struggling, as curate life is too safe.

Below, I’ve put the notes that I used for the day, including the resources, in case you wanted to have look.

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January 27, 2007 Posted by | communitas, culture, god, jesus, liminality, mission, religion | 4 Comments