‘A day of imagination, challenge and encouragement in considering a future for all creation - with Margaret Silf’
This month, we asked someone who came along to Soulful Saturday to write the piece for the website...
This was my first ‘Soulful Saturday’ as I have only recently moved to Chester. From previous experience I knew Margaret would give us food for thought and insights to reflect on.
Guiding us thoughtfully through the day, Margaret drew an extended parable from the phases of development of a butterfly, ‘born to fly’: from larva to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. In each stage, the facts and insights she offered gave us a way into considering both our own experience – our inner, imaginative life - and also the social, global life of humanity. For example, I discovered that‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ really does not exaggerate how much a caterpillar needs to eat – and benefited from time to think about how much greed is part of my, and our, daily life.
Fascinatingly, within the larva there are already dormant ‘imaginal’ cells, which later ‘come to life’ as the butterfly takes wing. This might remind us of our own imaginations and invite us to dream. If you go to Chester Zoo you will see the struggle as the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis. We too struggle with our own challenges, which may be necessary to move into the next 'dimension'.
At lunch time I sat in the sun and out of the wind in the Cloisters near lilac and magnolia in flower, enjoying a bit of space and peace. There was time for others to wander round the city, or to eat in the Cathedral Refectory.
One thing that has stayed with me from the afternoon is that some butterflies can migrate up to 9000km, each generation managing only part of the journey, laying eggs for the next stage in this ‘relay’. It has made me wonder what I would like to pass on to my grandchildren, and what my grandparents hoped they had passed on to me.
The day was far from being only introspective. Margaret spoke memorably of the wider, prophetic application in which questions and challenges for our spiritual life are also seen within the community and global context.
This was a retreat in daily life, offering a way to ‘find God in all things’. As well as the guided sessions, we were given material for reflection and enjoyed the chance to hear from one another in the group. This day was a valuable offering and it makes me look forward to what else Retreat House Chester can offer – currently through the hospitality of the Cathedral and other venues as we pray and plan for the day when 10/11 Abbey Square is once again able to welcome people, and where so much more may be possible.
Margaret had led the first launch event of Retreat House Chester a year before, almost to the day. It was good to welcome her back - for a day which encouraged us to dream of future possibilities and work towards them.