Encountering a Retreat at The Northumbria Community

Motivational Gifts Retreat – February 2016

Curious to encounter the Northumbria Community and a desire to understand myself more deeply, I booked onto the motivational gifts retreat. A time for reconnection and reflection.
Reading the book Given for Life, A guide to motivational gifts by Andy Raine in preparation for the retreat was really helpful and the content of the retreat made a lot more sense.
Having wandered for a few years I had begun to feel drawn back, to take a fresh look at what I’d previously thought I had known. I had no idea who would be leading the retreat and upon arrival I was delighted to see Andy Raine. This resonated with my desire to look back and reflect.
I had met Andy several times in 1981/2 in Darlington when I was 15 years old and although he couldn’t remember me, I certainly remembered him. At that time, my life had been significantly impacted by the testimonies of Michael Cullen and Roddy Geoghan. That evening, drawn from the basket of member’s names to be prayed for, were Michael and Annette Cullen!
But who am I and what have I been given with which to give? How can I use what’s been given to me if I’m all jumbled up on the inside? Who am I when everyone else has gone home? This retreat was the starting point of a new journey of personal understanding. This wasn’t about nostalgia, but rather, a serious reflection and sense making of the past in order to look to the future.
Andy’s eclectic style of delivery and his use of retro props to explain the seven motivational gifts were both engaging and clear. Whilst I didn’t always understand all that Andy brought (and he brought a lot), it didn’t seem to matter. What mattered was stepping into the unknown and taking a closer look at myself and what motivates me to do stuff. Holding difficult and courageous conversations with myself and identifying the things I am afraid to believe about myself.
It’s not about being categorised, labelled or put in a box. It’s about questioning and unearthing who you are and why you are drawn to do what you do. And so, I’ve settled on ‘Mercy/Server’ for the moment anyway. This helped me to begin to question and understand who I am and what I stand for. Having some insights into my motivations and embracing my gifts I can be more effective in what I have been called to do. Understanding my calling, well that’s a whole other matter but it is beginning to make some sense. The retreat was also a time to appreciate our differences and gifts and to know that we can all belong.
Andy followed up the retreat by passing on some prayers and commentary from ‘Celtic Benediction’ and ‘The Book of Creation’ by John Philip Newell, inspired by John Scotus, Eriugena’s essay on the seven days in Genesis.
Since the retreat, I have felt a push from the past and a draw to the future.



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