Friday 9th May 2008 5.pm found fourteen Tweenies and a rather worried-looking Fr David Gibbons, vicar of St Faith’s Church, Havant, assembling at the hover port in Southsea, ready to embark on their retreat to East Cowes. The weather was glorious and very hot and fortunately this was reflected throughout the whole weekend. We had a very smooth flight. Lindsay Chalk was relieved at this, having never been on a hovercraft before!
We were picked up in Ryde by minibus and transported to the Convent of The Sisters of Christ at East Cowes, passing one of Father Mike’s previous churches and Lynda and Mike’s flat - oh and Lynda’s workplace! Guess who our tour guide was on the journey?
On arrival we were shown to the annexe which was to be our home for the next two days (unless you were the four people accommodated in the farmhouse). After dinner on Friday night, David Gibbons led our first session, entitled, “What is the Enneagram and how can it help?”
The Enneagram is a personality system that describes nine distinct and fundamentally different patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. By the end of the weekend each of us had discovered which of the nine patterns we had developed, thus discovering our own personality type. This also helped us to bring positive change into our lives. Friday evening finished with compline and chocolate. Not at the same time.
Saturday morning dawned bright and early. Earlier for some of us than others! We said Morning Prayer before breakfast and then went to Session 2 which was about using the Enneagram to deepen our self awareness and we were put on the spot by having to share what made us think we were a particular personality type.
After lunch we were free to explore the town. Most of us walked and took the chain ferry across to West Cowes but some stayed relaxing in the magnificent grounds of the convent. Before dinner Father David celebrated a meditative Eucharist and the evening finished with a marathon of a quiz night. Before coming on the retreat we all had to prepare 10 questions or a game on a given topic. We had lots of fun - the quiz being washed down with a few glasses of wine!
Following Morning Prayer and breakfast on Sunday we had session 4 on how to use the Enneagram to help us pray and we then went away and individually tried out some of the methods of praying we had shared and learnt about. Before lunch, Eucharist was celebrated by Father David outside the convent, overlooking Cowes harbour - What a fantastic view and atmosphere!
After our final meal we took part in our ultimate session and then prepared to return home. We had shared a wonderful and uplifting experience, getting to know each other, sharing our life experiences and relaxing in the beautiful and peaceful environment of the convent and its grounds. The nuns were charming, the food was great and, thanks to Father David, we all discovered more about ourselves and our personality type. All that is - except me!! I seem to be a mixture of 2 or 3 personality types. Typical!
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