Be Still and know that I am God. [Psalm 46 v10]
A group of us has just returned from a weekend retreat held at Lee Abbey, a Christian Community in North Devon. The weekend was entitled Renew, Resource, Refresh and for me, this was my third time of attending one of these weekends.
Although the name suggests that the venue is an abbey, this is not actually the case. Built in 1850 in Gothic style, over the years Lee Abbey has been a place where young people came together for house parties, a luxury golfing hotel, a school for evacuees, a dairy farm and since 1945 has been a home to an international Christian Community. It was purchased in 1945 by a group of praying Christians to be used to “rekindle the fires of faith, prayer and witness” – a place where you can go and encounter Christ. It is a very special place.
It is set on the North Devon coastline close to the spectacular Valley of the Rocks near Lynton. The building itself is set into a dip in the landscape on the route of the South West Coast Path and it has its own private beach. From the bedrooms you can see the rugged coastline and spectacular views of the sea and rocks. Inside the building there are cosy rooms with log fires, picture galleries, a chapel, a library and the most amazing octagonal lounge with high ceilings and windows which overlook the grounds and the sea.
But it is not just the views or the building that make the place special, it is the feeling that I get when I arrive. There is a calmness and a quiet peace which seems to enfold me and makes me feel closer to God. A feeling of assurance that I am in His presence. A place where I will be renewed and refreshed, re-acquainted with Him.
I know that other people have special places where they feel the touch of the Lord close to them. I am told that the island of Iona has the same feeling of peace, as does the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, or being out in nature amongst woods and trees or on a country walk; just somewhere where we can draw breath, be peaceful and find space in our lives for God.
Where is your Special Place?