Why an “Opening to Grace” Christian Retreat?
As an experienced Gestalt Therapist I have long held a desire to integrate Gestalt therapy with spirituality, particularly from a contemplative Christian perspective, and to offer a new style of Christian Retreat. We call this new synthesis Transformational Gestalt and the main thrust of this contemplative perspective is working with embodied process – an unfolding in the present moment of what is essentially a deep healing process. This is as much a spiritual process as it is emotional and psychological, and moves us toward growth and profound healing. This is the place of deep healing, grounded in relationship, and open to what is greater than our ‘ego self’.
When Barry and I were in the process of developing our ideas about this synthesis of Gestalt and spirituality, we came across a book, Consenting to Grace, written by Rev Tilda Norberg, a New York Gestalt Therapist, who has developed what she calls ‘Gestalt Pastoral Care’, which she also offers as a Christian Retreat. I was lucky enough to spend several weeks with Tilda in New York in 2015 and attended a Gestalt Pastoral Care Retreat, co-working with participants and soaking in her generous wisdom. I came away from that Christian Retreat with a growing passion to continue to develop our own particular synthesis. We have become an affiliate of GPC in New York and have Tilda’s blessing for our work here in Australia.
In 2016 we offered several Opening to Grace workshops, and in October 2016 held our first 3 day Retreat at Kincumber on the Central Coast, NSW. This was such a deeply profound and sacred time together, and it has increased our desire to offer the Retreats to everyone who is drawn to this work. There is an openness and spontaneity in this work that allows every Retreatant to participate as they desire, and to unfold their own healing process, with community support and encouragement.
We are scheduled to hold our third ‘Opening to Grace’ Retreat in October 2018, and have a vision for yearly Retreats and further development of the Transformational Gestalt model.