Two participants' views of the Embracing The Divine three-afternoon retreat in October 2020
"I was privileged to be part of the Embracing the Divine retreat on Zoom held in October.
After introductions and instructions, the writer Mirabai Starr spoke about her own life and spirituality. On each of the three days she led a session on a different Christian woman mystic – Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen. Mirabai has translated writings from these and it was obvious that she knows them all well – as writers, as women of faith and courage, and as women of their times who can encourage us today. She introduced each with a brief but cogent resumé of her life and context, skilfully encapsulating the main elements of each one’s teaching and writings. These remarkable women held so much in common: their unwavering love of God, the church, and a clear view of the human condition and the spiritual life, ill health, the threat of imprisonment and excommunication, as what they wrote challenged some of the perceived theology of the church during their eras.
There was time to listen to short readings from the three mystics, time for prayer, and to meet the other participants in small groups to share and discuss the ‘stream of consciousness’ writing exercises. Although daunting, this was a graced experience.
The question sessions were skilfully collated by Howard Green and Mirabai did a marvellous job in commenting on the many topics raised. Each day ended with a prayer-chant.
For me it was an opportunity to revisit these spiritual writers in the company of friends and acquaintances, and to make new contacts. The experience was an example of how so many people can be together in a retreat situation through the means of modern technology, and gave an uplifting sense of shared prayer and spirituality.
A heartfelt thank you to Mirabai and all who organised it."
Gill Butterworth, CJN
"Thank you, Friends of Julian, for your part in bringing Mirabai Starr to me.
In spite of the stress I felt as a rather reluctant ‘Zoomer’ with a rather reluctant lap top and the thought of three lots of three hours’ sustained concentration, I loved it.
For me Mirabai brought these three wise and wonderful women alive.
Ancient wisdom came to me as fresh and very relevant from a warm and engaging, honest and humorous storyteller. Although obviously highly intellectual, like the three women in whose presence she had spent many many hours, the message that remains with me is refreshingly simple. Love. God is loving. Love and be loved."