Beyond the experience of duality

Hermits in Company

Above: The six in conversation in the warm sun’

Some reflections on

Hermits-in-Company Autumn Silent Retreat

12th – 16th September 2022

Monastery of our Lady and St Bernard Gloucestershire



Letting go into the mystery that is LIFE


As people arrived they expressed the joy of meeting again in person. There was a natural and palpable desire to have a good ‘catch – up’. At our opening gathering, there was sense of weariness in the group. However, over the next few days, as we settled into silence, the rhythm of our prayer times and contemplative sharing, this began to lift. In the peaceful setting of the Monastery, the alchemy of intentional silence wove its magic.

Several people kindly offered written reflections of the retreat. In hers, Daphne said that she felt her ‘mental energies being restored’, and her ‘creativity returning’. She went on to say, ‘I returned home feeling restored and refreshed. It had been so good to be in the company of old friends, all of us travelling the same path together.’ From Daphne’s returning creativity this poem emerged…


Sooner or later

The light comes

Dropping gently

Like the early morning dew

On our parched hearts,

Which have been waiting for so long

Waiting, waiting

In the darkness.

And then suddenly

It comes

It is there

Waiting for us

It has always been there


For us to wake up

To see the light

The love which is all around us

Just waiting for us


Daphne Radenhurst 




A reflection by Mary Brown

Our first Sangha retreat in person since the pandemic! When I saw it would be silent I was at first disappointed: a chance to meet after nearly three years and we could not talk. But the silence spoke to me far more than words could. A spirit was created in those four days together; I think we all felt it, and all contributed to it. A spirit of joy in our togetherness, of love, of peace. When Jane said that we would come out of silence a few hours early to be able to talk over coffee, I was disappointed once again. I didn’t want the silence to end. But six of us sat in the warm sun and had a wonderful conversation, not a coffee chat but the kind of conversation one usually has with those one knows intimately, perhaps over a long time. I think we had come together over those four days in a very special way: a holy way, so that we did know one another intimately. Quakers have a query which says ‘Seek to know one another in the things that are eternal.’ I have often wondered just what this means and how to do it. I think we did it at the Sangha, we got to know one another in the things that are eternal. 

Another Quaker advice says of our meetings for worship, ‘We seek a gathered stillness.’ For four days we were a gathered community, bound together in the spirit of oneness. We were oned in love: oned with each other, with the peace of nature, with glory of the universe. It was a truly wonderful experience. My heartfelt thanks to all who made it so special, and especially to Jane.


A reflection by Ryzarda Rogers

This was a much looked forward to event by myself and arriving with another Sangha member also made it more congenial.  Jane, John and Victoria were there already and it was really heart warming to see them, I felt very welcomed.  We all wanted to catch up with each other and in person is so much better than on zoom. 

 I know how much work it has been for the organising group to set this week up, to make sure out needs were met and that we could get the most out of our four nights together.  I appreciate that there was more space to catch up with everyone as Covid had meant that some of us had not met up for over 2 years.

Jane had put together a wonderful programme, in between the meditation and prayer times, we had daily group sharing space, music and video, we also joined the Nuns for their Vigil on our last evening, which was really beautiful, especially their voices.  We had hearty and healthy food and the Nuns were so friendly to us.

Ultimately, I think I come to have my inner well filled again, which the Sangha always does, it’s a treasured feeling of happiness and love.  I am so grateful to everyone for this joyful experience and I will attempt to keep my practice up at home.  Thank you to all the organisers.

A reflection by Daphne Radenhurst

After the years of lockdown, pandemic, isolation and zooming over the internet, we were able to meet up again at the monastery at Brownhill. At first the need to communicate, to talk was very strong, but gradually we settled down into the rhythm of silence, meditation, chanting and readings at our daily services.

Slowly we began to rest in the silence, to breathe deeply, to reconnect with ourselves and with the Divine. We had lost so much during those barren years. This was our chance to restore ourselves in the tranquillity of the Monastery; to walk, to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, to simply sit, to read or reflect, to doze or just Be.

One blip when the outside world intruded. From then on, I felt my mental energies being restored, physically relaxing, my creativity returning. I enjoyed the simplicity of the food.

I returned home feeling restored and refreshed. It had been so good to be in the company of old friends, all of us travelling the same path together.