survey‘Are you doing a survey?’

My questioner could be forgiven for making such an assumption. There I was, sat with pen, paper and folder in hand. Overlooking the beautiful landscape in and around Coleton Fishacre, a National Trust property in South Devon. Boats on the sea, birds of prey in the sky and trees a plenty. I replied I wasn’t – but in one way I was.

It was my monthly quiet day. Time, if you like, for surveying the landscape of family, faith and commitments as they are at present.

Think of a survey and one might rank different aspects from 1 to 10 or very good to poor. Those which required a simple yes or no or choosing the options of multiple choice. And what needs writing in the comment boxes.

A survey might also consider the strengths and weaknesses of different aspects of the various elements of the landscape. What needs attention, what’s good and strong. You can probably think of other parallels.

I’d come across a helpful retreat guide to use on this occasion. Following the pattern of Jesus saying, ‘Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while.’ (Mark 6.31)

Taking time to write down what I was being invited to come away from: the demands, the concerns, that which has been lost or overlooked.

Invited to be quiet and still.

Invited to listen to both the silence and the soundscape.

Invited to notice… the trees, the flowers, the people, the self. The presence of God in all things and all places and all the elements of now.

Invited to ‘lay back against you and breath, feel your heart beat.’



The final line is from a song written by Zach Neese, from the album ‘The more I seek you’ by Gateway Worship and used as part of the Come Away retreat guide from Monastic Retreats.

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