CW86: The Rhythm of God’s Grace

Revd Ruth Goodland

Engaging in retreats brings many rewards, as the rhythm of life takes on a new beat. The joy of sharing together opens up and releases people into new beginnings, new possibilities and focus.

Prayer and preparation are key to running a retreat. These enable participants to embrace the rhythm of God’s grace for themselves, often finding that their development in thinking spills over to all gathered. I have watched groups become stronger, new friendships forged, new insights into other Christian expressions of faith valued. The joy of engaging with, for example, Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Salvationist and Quaker Christians all at the same time enriches everyone.

I remember one person telling me that at 80 years of age they had never spoken to anyone who was a Catholic or a Quaker. ‘I never realised that I knew so little about faith. Today has been worth every moment, I have grown in my understanding and we are going to meet up for coffee regularly after this. I have found new friends: thank you!’

Our lives are often filled with so many demands that finding space to just be and engage in something other than ‘work’ is often very low on our list of things to do. We know when we go on retreat that everything will be waiting for us when we return, but the benefits of time apart from the demands of ministry and everyday life far outweigh any fears we may encounter in courageously prioritising ‘God and me days’.

Finding an appropriate venue is vital. I have led retreats in seaside church premises in Cornwall, holiday hotels in the Wye Valley, the Gower Peninsular, Buckfast Abbey, and Wesley cottage on Bodmin Moor. Wonderfully, each one holds an intimacy for leader and participant as space is given for the exploration of our relationship with God; time for contemplation and space to ‘be’ is crucial for all of us. Having the opportunity to explore beautiful scenery, gardens or the quayside all bring new ways of connecting with the rhythm of life, to begin to know the calming, comforting, peaceful, empowering, presence of God.

Retreats and ‘away days’ are an important part of the life of both the church and the church leader. They enable people to engage in the beauty of being together, to connect with the rhythm of God’s grace away from the ordinary things of life. They create space for the possibility of forming the words in our mouth, allowing the vowels and consonants to ripple over our tongues and engage our minds, not as a demand to do something but in the caress of God’s care.

The rhythm of word is enhanced by the rhythm of music, connectivity, which holds the listener in the gentleness of new sound. It allows the mind to move in a new direction of thought, bringing a sense of peace, of wellbeing. Bringing new aspects to people’s creative thinking and praying adds to the developing relationship with God. The flow and ebb of the rhythm of God’s grace in us heals, calms and enriches the people we are; the minutiae of life becomes secondary. Grace in abundance is ours, for loved we are, and we are enthralled.


Revd Ruth Goodland

Retired Methodist Minister (Supernumerary Minister)




This article first appeared in Country Way 86: Mental Health & Wellbeing, February 2021. Go to for more information about how to subscribe.