A year and a half ago I went to Italy (by train - what joy!) to facilitate a Quaker Voluntary Action (QVA) working retreat at Borgo Basino. You can read more about it here but the short version is: we had a wonderful week of practical and spiritual work in community.
I was booked to work with QVA again this year but, like almost everything, we had to find a new way to deliver a working retreat, that could be done without actually meeting in person.
Working with Evan Welkin, who with his wife Federica, runs Borgo Basino, we set to work to find out what could be done in an online setting. Bringing people together for reflective sessions on zoom is not so hard - in many ways that's my bread and butter at the moment - but thinking through the working element was trickier.
Where we landed was with the Loving Earth Project. This seeks to engage people with climate change in a positive, creative way and is building a collection of panels which are well worth looking at - you can view them here. We invited everyone in our group to contribute to our shared panel in whatever way they felt comfortable. As you can see people contributed through crochet, fabric, words and design.
It was my great privilege to find the way to pull it all together into a single piece. An additional joy in the work was receiving a series of 'proper letters' from various places in England but also from The Netherlands and Italy. This is my kind of work!
Our retreat was based on three sessions, each a few weeks apart. We got to know each other, reflected on themes of community, retreat and the gifts of lockdown. And we created a panel for the Loving Earth Project. I was glad to share this experience with others and to find the way to keep faith in working retreats during these current times. QVA continue to review their plans as the situation changes and develops - if you think you might be interested in joining a working retreat online or in person sign up for their newsletter.
I'm looking forward to facilitating further retreats with them in the future.