We held a Gay Spirit Retreat for gay men on 27-29 March 2009 at Monkton Wyld Court in Dorset.  This was a weekend for time-out in gay space - time away from the everyday pressures of a busy life, to be still … to reflect … to walk in nature … to share your journey … to talk with other gay men … to laugh … to be nourished … simply to be.

Fifteen men came to the weekend retreat from a variety of backgrounds and faith traditions.  It was a gentle, calm and reflective period that was held and lightly structured by Andrew Woodgate and me.  There were several periods of meditation, some of them involving guided visualisations.  During the Saturday, we encouraged men to greatly deepen their connection with their own self, with others, and with their understanding of the Source of All (or God, Divine, Allah, Love, Beauty, Nature, Tao, Integrity).  This included an extended period of silence during the afternoon, during which time a profound sense of stillness descended on Monkton Wyld.

During Sunday, we sought to open ourselves to an ever-deeper 'listening to the heart' by individually contemplating several questions from within the heart:

  1. What now is my awareness of my spiritual nature?
  2. How do I contact (or connect) with the Divine now?
  3. What does my heart know to be the nature of gay spirituality?; and a final key question
  4. How is my heart drawing me to live my spiritual life as a gay man into the future?

For most men present, these were engaging and profound questions that sometimes resulted in some surprising responses.

During the retreat there were also times of physical connection through movement mediation, massage and bodywork, and ritual.  There was much sharing and conversation, leading to closer connections and personal exploration of our different yet complementary experiences of gay spiritual life.