Skip to content Skip to footer


The weeks running up to Christmas can be really busy so it is good to take some time to catch our breath and reflect on what we are celebrating at Christmas or in the Christ Mass – the coming of Christ, the Son of God and the light of the world. The period before Christmas is called Advent which means “coming” and is marked by the four Sundays preceding 25th December. For Christians it used to be a special time of fasting and repentance – like Lent. Now it is a more joyful season as we prepare and wait, to remember Christ’s coming, his first coming as a baby born to Mary and his predicted second coming at the end of time.

It was a privilege to welcome friends, old and new, to our Advent retreat days. The themes we explored were preparing our hearts for encountering the sacred and waiting patiently upon God. There was time for Christian meditation that focussed finding inner peace through Mary’s song of praise, the Magnificat. Although the day was largely silent there was a sense of companionship and relaxed quiet. Seeing people using the art materials, writing a poem, knitting, walking to the beach, reading or resting gazing at the local view was a joy.

The over-commercialisation and secularisation of Christmas makes it all to easy to lose sight of the reason we are celebrating. The baby gets swamped by planning meals, buying presents, sending Christmas cards (or Seasons Greetings!) shopping for food, working out who to see when, going to parties, singing festive songs, maintaining our own traditions and preparing for the big day. Observing Advent can give us some space to reflect on the wonder of God becoming a human and living on earth for 33 years over 2000 years ago. John Betjeman captured some of the awesome wonder of this in his poem Christmas when he wrote in the last verse:

No love that in a family dwells
No carolling in frosty air
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single truth compare
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in bread and wine

Hopefully Lark Rise Retreats’ Advent quiet days made space for those who came along to rest and reflect on the true wonder of Christmas.

These photographs were taken on the first day, the one when the sun shone! One retreatant called it a ‘good for the soul day’ and another said she had a “chance to be with God, to wait upon Him”.

4 December 2023

Subscribe to keep updated.