Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Desert Journey and Daily Bread: Food and Fasting in Lent

Lent and Holy Week, March 5 to April 20, 2014


Food and Fasting in Lent 

an online retreat

The retreat

Desert Journey and Daily Bread is an online retreat to deepen Lenten prayer and practice in the areas of food and fasting.
Note: We are also offering another online Lenten retreat this year: Thomas Merton, Companion on the Way. (We offered a similar retreat last year in Lent.)  Have a look here if this appeals to you more than a retreat on food and fasting.
In the Desert Journey and Daily Bread retreat, we will journey through the Christian season of Lent, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, with gentle guidance, wisdom from biblical, historical, and contemporary sources, and opportunities for prayer and practice.

Our purpose is not to make a fetish out of either food or fasting; they are part of a larger life of faith and practice, of the full life of the body, and of the Lenten journey. Fasting and food are  a lens through which we can live the season of Lent, which itself is a path to attune us more closely to God, to God's world, to ourselves, and to our neighbors --and to prepare to celebrate the Resurrection. 

The retreat is a call to simplicity, mindfulness, and holiness.

Like the season of Lenten itself, it invites us to repentance and conversion, but also to joy.

Each week of the retreat will have a theme related both to the topic of the retreat and to one or more of the biblical lectionary readings for Sunday.

Note: This is an ecumenical retreat in the Western Christian tradition, though there will be some references to Orthodox Lenten practices. Though your friendly retreat leader worships in a tradition using the Revised Common Lectionary, she will also take into account the Roman Catholic Sunday lectionary.
Each week will feature:
   * short readings for our reflection;
  * spiritual exercises
(which will involve the whole person, body, mind, heart, and spirit, as do all Lenten practices) especially those involving or related to eating, fasting, and food

  * prayers;  
  * images to contemplate; and  
  * reminders of the broader context of the Lenten journey in which we practice our praying, eating, fasting, simple living, almsgiving, and work toward the kin-dom of God. Participants can use all of these according to their own context and daily life.

* * * * * * *

There will be new material three times a week:

 1. Early Sunday:
(or late Saturday by request -- some of our retreat participants come from a tradition in which Sunday Eucharist can also be celebrated on Saturday evening)
Reflection on the theme for the week in conjunction with one or more of the Sunday lectionary readings.

2. Tuesday morning:

The spirituality of food in Lent: wisdom, queries, and spiritual practices related to food and water.

3. Thursday evening (in anticipation of Friday)

Friday is traditionally a penitential day and some Christian traditions focus their Lenten fasting in particular ways on Friday. 

Accordingly, our Thursday night reflection will prepare us for the greater simplicity of Fridays in Lent

It will also offer us wisdom and support in whatever fasting practices we have chosen, whether they involve fasting from food or fasting in other ways (from television, from Twitter, from harmful speech, from impulse buying, from online arguments).


Like all our online retreats, this one will include, but not require, opportunities for conversation with other participants. Make this retreat your own. It is a communal journey, as is the whole season of Lent, but a great part of it is also your own journey with God in your particular context. The retreat is an invitation to a guided experience with resources, support, and some accountability if you wish, but it is not a competition in holiness or practice. It can be helpful whether or not you are also involved in a parish or congregation in any part of the Christian family.

As noted above, this retreat is in the Western Christian liturgical tradition(s), but it will offer a few insights from Eastern Christian, especially Orthodox, tradition, whose practices in Lent include some very specific ways of fasting and relating to food. We also have much to learn from sister religious traditions (Judaism, Islam) which have practices of fasting and an active spirituality of food in many cultural settings.

Registration and cost

To register, e-mail Jane at readwithredmont@earthlink.net.
Cost: $150

Early Bird Special: $120 for those who register by Monday, February 24.

A sliding scale and a couple of scholarships are available for those in financial difficulty. Please write me and we will find a way to make this retreat affordable for you!

Payment is non-refundable and due upon registration.

You can pay by check.
For information on where to send your check, write Jane at readwithredmont@earthlink.net.
We also accept PayPal.
This means that we can take a payment by credit card as well as from a PayPal account. Either way, this is a secure payment and we never see your card number. Use the button below if you wish to pay by credit card or PayPal:

Retreat fee (choose one)

An online retreat? How does that work?   

We offer you the retreat resources (readings, meditations, images, guidelines for spiritual practice, prayers, insights on prayer, and sometimes music) online on a blog. More specifically, a closed blog.

What's a closed blog? It's a blog open only to those whom the blog owner-administrator (in this case the retreat facilitator) allows in. In other words, it is not open to anybody wandering around the internet. Random web surfers will not be able to view either the blog or our conversations in the comments. Once you register for the course, I will send instructions on the one-time sign-in mechanism. After that, the retreat blog will always recognize you.

Do I have to talk to other people on the retreat? I'm a very private person.   
Can I get some support here? I need to talk.

Jane's online retreats offer you a choice: it is up to you to find your preferred balance between the solitary and the communal, between privacy and solidarity.

Use the retreat according to your personality and your circumstances. The retreat is like a room in which you are welcome to sit in the company of others and to be either visible or invisible. 

You can and may make conversation part of the retreat experience. (Conversation on the retreat takes place via the comments on the blog posts at the retreat blog.) You can and may, however, remain private and just read the blog and use the practices and meditations on your own. Nobody will force you to speak.

Please be prepared to observe confidentiality as well as respect for other participants' diverse experiences and outlooks. 

Judaean Desert - photo by David Solodar - free stock photo

Facilitator and host

Jane Redmont is the author of When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life. She is a spiritual director, retreat leader, pastoral minister, writer, and theologian who has worked in  campus, urban, and parish ministries. An Episcopal Christian, she was also formed in the Catholic tradition and has Jewish and Unitarian Universalist family roots and several years of experience teaching at a Quaker-founded college. Jane has extensive experience in organizational leadership, including consulting, directing, and fund-raising for organizations addressing causes and consequences of urban poverty. She has been involved in work for social justice and ecumenical and interreligious relations all her life and has taught college, seminary, and graduate courses in Christian history, theology, spirituality, religious pluralism, African American studies, environmental studies, and women's, gender, and sexuality studies.  

Jane is committed to healthy living and eating, grew up in France with a vegetarian mother and a meat-eating father, and loves farmers' markets and good food. She has taught college courses on "Health, Spirituality, and Justice" and "Religion, Ecofeminism, and Environmental Justice" and offered workshops and retreats on Lenten spirituality around the United States.

Two days before the beginning of Lent, Jane will be offering a day long retreat in North Andover, Massachusetts on "New Lenten Perspectives on Food and Fasting." (See here.)

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