Thought for the weekend: A home to lift the spirits
For quite a few years now the Ards Clergy Fellowship has had the practice of holding a Quiet Day. We meet at a venue away from our various working environments and invite a guest speaker to direct our thoughts with a presentation or to encourage a sense of renewal at a pace and in a place a bit different from the norm.
This week we held our 2016 Quiet Day at Echo Sound, a beautiful private home owned by Rab and Pat Mollan, on the shores of Strangford Lough between Killyleagh and Downpatrick.
As successful professionals in their own right, Rab and Pat could be forgiven for enjoying the fruit of their labours in the secluded privacy of their own domestic haven.
But both of them feel a deeper calling.
As non-stipendiary clergy in the Church of Ireland, they have discerned that a valuable, indeed, vital aspect of their vocation is to facilitate the Church's Ministry of Healing by hosting retreats, quiet days and similar events at their wonderful lakeside home.
As of last Thursday, I can testify to just how welcome and restorative such a setting is, especially given the warm, generous hospitality that the Mollans habitually extend.
The poet William Wordsworth once wrote: "The world is too much with us; late and soon getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: little we see in nature that is ours; we have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!"
To be on retreat at Echo Sound, for a day, or even an hour or two, is to feel a sense of empowering refreshment, to see views that would lift any spirit or liberate any heart as the mind begins to disentangle many of those knots that seem to have us wound up or bound up tightly in their stifling grasp.
The Church's Ministry of Healing, based at The Mount, 162 Upper Knockbreda Road, Belfast, has as its strapline: "Working to enable all people to know God's healing power."
That's certainly the case at Echo Sound, a blessing of a place if ever there was one, where Rab and Pat extend that divine blessing in ways that resonate with that evocative phrase of the psalmist: "Deep calls to deep" (Psalm 42:7).