A group of 15 people, mainly from Victoria, journeyed to Cairns for the Tropical Wilderness Retreat from 15 – 20 July.
Based at the Seville Mercy Conference Centre, the participants embarked on a six-day walking retreat taking in some of the stunning natural environments on offer in that part of Australia.
The walking retreat included a journey around Lake Eacham, a crater lake in the Atherton Tablelands; a visit to Cairns to take in the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Centre and the majestic stained glass windows depicting the Genesis story in the Cairns Cathedral; a walk through the Gondwana Heritage Walk in the Cairns Botanical Gardens; a day on Fitzroy Island which included snorkelling on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef; and a walk at Mossman Gorge in the Daintree Rainforest.
‘I was expecting to be touched by the beauty of the tropical environment, but the sensitive way in which the retreat unfolded took me to a much deeper level, spiritually and aesthetically, than I had anticipated’, said Mary, one of the participants.
The retreat was guided by Peter Saunders, Helen Lucas and Terry Power. Each day began with a community prayer. The walks were undertaken in silence, to allow participants to be more fully alive to God’s presence in Creation.
‘God’s gifts in the environment and people on the retreat were in abundance every day … Each day is another opportunity to be grateful for what God has done for us and the importance for humans to care for this wonderful, complex and beautiful Earth’, said Martin, another retreatant.
At the end of each day, participants shared their experiences in a Magis Circle, unpacking their experiences of the day and what they meant to them.
‘Throughout our time together, the group formed a very strong, positive bond. The Magis Circle each evening provided an opportunity to contemplate, share our joys and challenges and affirm one another’s daily encounters with Nature’, said Marisa Mathys, another of the participants.
The Being with God in Nature Ministry operates out of the Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality. They host a number of prayer walks and longer retreat experiences throughout the year. For more details go to www.campion.asn.au/nature/