As part of the Alpha course we are following a weekend of seminar sessions was organized.
The weekend sessions took place at the Sister Eveleen Retreat House in Sumner.According to the website:
Sr Eveleen House is a contemplative retreat environment in which many seek to experience God’s presence, find rest and replenishment, listen to their own heart and God’s leading in their lives. Sr Eveleen bequethed this house to the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch in 1939 as a house of prayer and spiritual help. It is owned by the Anglican Church and runs ecumenically. The spiritual ministry at Sr Eveleen Retreat house is rooted in western Christian contemplative spirituality.
Set on Scarborough hill Sumner the retreat house overlooks Pegasus Bay in a stunning natural environment, with a range of coastal and beach walkways.
What an amazing place this turned out to be and the perfect environment for a weekend of Alpha with the Holy Spirit as a central theme. The serenity of the place sort of opens you up completely. Quietly imagining I could be writing books or music there.
Prayer gets a different dimension when you are in such an environment an could so imagine how contemplative prayer would be an amazing experience there. That day, looking out over the bay with all you could hear was the rushing of the sea; AMAZING.
Now I don’t know about you but I pretty much sure that ever since my childhood days I have been fascinated by rays of light coming through the clouds. I remember vividly one of the pictures of an old illustrated Children Bible and how these rays of light appeared to symbolize the communication of God (the Bible itself speaks of the rainbow as a reminder of the covenant with Noah). It was a sign of God trying to tell you something if only to let you know that He was there right with you. For some reason that always stuck with me, believer or not. And I was not disappointed on that day.
If the weekend was indeed all about God in our life, about being filled with the Holy Spirit than this view seemed most certainly a sign to me that he was there to make the Alpha weekend a success.
On the way back from Hanmer the day before I was to leave New Zealand to remigrate to the Netherlands, the view below appeared in the mirror of the car and ended up stopping the car and sitting there almost in the middle of the road to take pictures.The picture below has been on the front of my mind all the time in the Netherlands.
In light of what was said earlier in this post and in hindsight I have often wondered whether this was more than mere coincidence. That question became all the more real when after my return back in New Zealand, for some reason I felt like I needed to drive out for some pictures of the red northwester evening skies. I never saw what you see below when I made the picture but could not believe my eyes when I was developing pictures.
When a face like that, on top of all the other things that were happening and being experienced, looks at you from the skies, well what shall I say. Anyway back to beautiful Sumner and Whitewash Heads.
A Sunday Afternoon Walk
Later on the Sunday afternoon, after the Alpha course I went for a walk up the cliffs: the Whitewash Heads of which I had heard but never been. Again an amazing though tiring experience. Being one of those hurried Dutchies I tend to go to fast uphill and you are always paying the price for it. The walk may have its steep moments but the views most certainly make it all worth while.
A very special Sunday indeed.