31st August 2022

Long ago, on the island of Iona, a meeting had been called. An angry brother spoke about his failure, telling of the hardness of heart in the kingdom of Northumbria, a land of darkness refusing the life-giving light, inhabited by a stubborn, unreachable people. And one man heard, and his heart was stirred with compassion for that land and its people. To open his heart to this could cost him everything: leaving the island he loved, the companionship of his brothers, their prayer and work. Were there not others still to reach much closer to home? If he stayed seated among his brothers no one would notice him, no one would know what he had heard in his heart: the cry of the desert, ‘Come over to Northumbria and help us.’

‘O Lord’, he prayed, ‘give me springs and I will water this land. I will go, Lord. I will hold this people in my heart.’ A moment later it was his own voice, the voice of Aidan, that broke the awkward silence. ‘Perhaps, my brother, if you had spoken with more gentleness, and of the love of Christ, giving them the gospel to nourish them like milk is given to a tiny baby, then you would have won them and remained among them.’

I think the key thing about Aidan that we can learn from is this. Listening. He listened to God habitually. You could say he listened for God even when there was nothing forthcoming, so that when God did speak he was already paying attention. He listened to other people, recognising that everybody had something to teach him and so paying attention to what they had to say. He listened for every sign of what God may be doing in the heart or life of each person he met, whether they acknowledged God yet or not. He listened deeply, rather than assuming that he already knew what they needed to hear. It showed humility, not presumption. He paid attention, and was willing to have the course of his day or his life altered by what he heard. Andy Raine



Some reflection questions:

  1. Part A of the Aidan liturgy describes a willingness to respond to God’s call. How can we hear the call of God ‘deeper in [our] hearts’? What might help to deepen our attentiveness and sharpen our response?
  2. Part B of the Aidan liturgy expresses the desire to be more open to the world and a plea for God’s intervention and protection. How do we maintain an openness that feels ‘pain and brokenness’ and ‘suffering and injustice’ without giving in to despair? Given so much disturbing daily news, how can we remain ‘free from sin’, ‘protected from all anxiety’ and expectant ‘in joyful hope’?
  3. Part C of the Aidan liturgy asks for ‘the gift of friendship and of faithfulness’ and to ‘be freed from selfishness’. Why does true friendship and loyalty require us to be authentic? In what sense is pretence a form of selfishness? How does being authenticity relate to being ‘intentionally vulnerable’?
  4. Part D of the Aidan liturgy speaks of the desire to be ‘an island set apart’. What is the difference between solitude and isolation? How can times of silence and solitude help to prepare us for ‘the busy world beyond’? Why do we need courage to be ‘left alone with God’?
  5. Read Part E of the Aidan liturgy. In your own context, what situations and issues need God’s wisdom? How might you demonstrate God’s goodness in the midst of these?

Listen and reflect…


5th August 2022

Each year, on St Oswald’s Day, those of us who can, make a pilgrimage to Heavenfield, Northumberland. It is in the good ground of Heavenfield that Oswald planted a wooden cross as a waymark. Oswald had returned to Northumbria, the land of his heritage, to reclaim the throne and crown by battle. His wish was to put an end to the years of fighting and division so that his people might live. On the eve of the battle, Oswald and his companions knelt together at the the turn of the road, at the foot of the cross, and prayed. The battle that followed was decisive, Oswald was victorious, and Northumbria was united under his Kingship.

THIS YEAR, AS LAST YEAR, YOU CAN JOIN IN LOCALLY, OR AS PART OF THE DISPERSED NETWORK, either by taking part in a physical pilgrimage to Heavenfield, or by gathering round a livestream/ materials from the archives. Find out more by clicking on the button below.


We are delighted to be releasing an update to the Nether Springs programme to December 2022

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You can now book retreats at Nether Springs until the end of 2022, as we have just released our programme from July to December 2022.


Coming up in March and April 2022

flowers plant spring macro

Our retreats and events – online and at Nether Springs, our Mother House…

And, as a ‘heads up’ you might want to join in with our 40-day Lenten Creativity practice…

Creative beading by Audrey Gray

If you would like to automatically receive our monthly retreat and events updates by email, please sign up HERE

The following retreats will be running ONLINE:

  • March 25 – 27 (Friday to Sunday) – Community Introduction (North America Time Zone) – This retreat will enable you to learn more about who we are as Community. We are aware that many people may have ‘found’ us during this season – through our daily prayers, leadership reflections, prayer network or Monastic Living blog – and are wanting to explore further what it would mean to journey with us. Priority will be given to those who have already expressed an interest in postulancy or the novitiate but there are likely to be other spaces available. SPACES AVAILABLE

Continue reading “Coming up in March and April 2022”

Coming up in January 2022

Our retreats and events – online and at Nether Springs, our Mother House…

If you would like to automatically receive our monthly retreat and events updates by email, please sign up HERE

The following retreats will be running ONLINE:

  • 11 January‘Changing Clock’  – In a time of changing seasons, there is always much to reflect upon. Using a beautiful, ‘changing clock’, creative activity, you will be invited to track the joys and challenges of the past year and to consider what God might be showing you – not just about the times we are now living in, but also about your own life. Six week small group gathering – every Tuesday evening until 15th February SPACES AVAILABLE
  • January 14 – 16 (Friday to Sunday) – Space for the New Year – I hope for you in the New Year: That the single, most significant dimension of life is your relationship with God who never ceases to sing love songs to your soul … That you make choices and decisions that reflect your truest self … That you find adventure in each new day and marvel at the wonders of creation which constantly present themselves to you … That you take risks and accept the growth-full challenges that come to you…   Joyce Rupp (read full prayer here 

As we begin a new year, this is an opportunity to ‘come away’ and reflect on your intentions and hopes for the time ahead and to pray God’s blessings on it. There will be some guidance and resources offered, but mainly space within the rhythm of the day to connect with the Author of all our days. SPACES AVAILABLE

Continue reading “Coming up in January 2022”