The Carcoar Camino – an Ignatian Walking Retreat
The autumn weather made for a beautiful Carcoar Camino retreat last weekend. The retreatants were taken on both an inner journey using the Ignatian First Spiritual Exercises and an outer journey, walking the Shalom labyrinth as well as tracks along the beautiful Carcoar valley.
John and Bernadette began the retreat on Friday night, setting the scene for the weekend with some interesting slides and short videos on the history of pilgrimage and Labyrinths.
The next morning our first walk focused on our life’s journey as we walked the labyrinth, and on our second labyrinth walk, we found Jesus on the road to Emmaus.
After a scrumptious lunch (cooked by our chefs for the weekend Nick and Fran), we headed down through the village of Carcoar. In the dark of the old railway tunnel we experienced coming alive with our contemplative meditation on the raising of Lazarus.
The highlight of the weekend was definitely our night labyrinth walk. With fire pits to warm us and hundreds of candles to light the path, we sat with Jesus in the Mary and Martha story.
Sunday morning we woke to another glorious day and headed off, following the ridge above the village.
There were plenty of photo opportunities along the walk, with the mist burning off Mount Macquarie and the views across Carcoar valley. The hills were dotted with kangaroos and a swamp wallaby hopped along the track beside us.
At the end of the walk we sat on logs beside the beautiful Belabulah River. Ignatius says that we should “pause wherever fruit is found” – a very useful suggestion for there was much to be found, as we listened to the gentle babbling of the water, it was easy to contemplate the joy in our lives as we went with Mary to visit Elizabeth and experience the joy of the new.
Over Sunday lunch, we overheard comments from the retreatants such as “depths of richness in happiness”, “feeling gratitude”, “joy in the scenery” and “joy of renewal“.
It was lovely to see that taking this journey away from their busy lives helped them find the fruits of joy and peace; And with their souls nourished, the retreat came to an end.
By Bernadette Collins