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Advent Retreat 2017

Advent begins just as the "holiday shopping season" kicks into high gear. It's difficult not to be swept up in the chaos of our secular culture. But St. Alban's offers a refuge: an annual retreat in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Memorial House, owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware, is large and comfortable--a former home of the DuPont family, just blocks from the ocean. St. Alban's has been holding its annual Advent retreat there for 20 years.

The retreat began Friday evening with conversation and dinner, after which everyone went into silence.

The weekend was punctuated by worship and guided meditations. This year, 18 St. Albanites and friends gathered with the Rev'd Geoffrey Hoare to consider T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, poems that explore Christian belief and practice. Participants took turns reading the poems aloud during meals.

Many also listened to readings of the poems by Eliot himself or by the English actor Alec Guinness.

There's plenty of open time throughout the weekend for reading, writing, drawing, and walks on the almost-deserted boardwalk and beach. Rehoboth in winter has a special charm.

There's also food, and lots of it.

Sunday morning breakfast

The retreat includes all meals, which are varied and delicious. Vegetarian options are always available. Coffee and tea are on tap 24 hours a day.

Although the retreat is silent, it is full of warmth and companionship, either by the fireplace or around the outdoor fire pit.

The group gathered for worship multiple times--for morning, noon and evening prayer, as well as compline at the end of the day. During the closing Eucharist on Sunday morning, participants shared reflections on the retreat, including their own poetry and art inspired by Eliot's work.

by Anne-Louise Oliphant

The Advent Retreat is a weekend many at St. Alban's look forward to all year. If you'd like to join the group in 2018, look for an announcement and sign up early. Space is limited.

Credits:

Photos by Deborah Potter

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