“It’s absolutely essential! I need space where I can be completely silent just to be,” says Ase, one of the ten participants of the five day individually guided retreat (IGR) at Minsteracres.

Ase is talking about the silent aspect of the IGR, which is the thing which most people who have never tried it seem to fear the most.

Derek agrees, “I thrive on it. I love the stillness. Moving away from your busy life the silence provides an oasis of stillness and allows to you connect with your inner self.”

In Derek’s case, the experience was deepened by the fact that he was staying in the Poustinia which has its own chapel. “The Blessed Sacrament in the chapel is behind glass, so permanently exposed – I felt it was just me and the Lord for the whole week!”

“What I value is being able to step back from everyday life and having someone to walk with you to help you see where the Lord is working in your life and help you to hear Him,” says Angela. “I like the freedom of the grounds, the shrubbery and the gardens. There’s a stillness here – space just to be, to sit and do nothing and not feel guilty!”

“I come on other retreats, but they aren’t like this one,” says Ase. ”This is about my personal relationship with God.

Ase describes it this way, “It’s like with friends – you want to share things with them, to learn more about them. It’s the same with Jesus. On retreat, the guidance of the Holy Spirit helps you to go deeper into that relationship.

“I’d heard the expression that each of us is a unique manifestation of God before, but suddenly I thought about it properly for the first time and it felt really profound.”

One thing both Ase and Angela mention is how important it is to be on the same journey with other people, even though there is no conversation. “Although we don’t talk, we’re aware of everyone’s presence, conscious that other people are there and feeling held and supported,” says Angela.

“It’s a life saver,” says Ase. “It’s integral to my person, as essential as breathing. It’s a way to develop both in my spiritual life and as a person.”