What does it mean to delight? What is delight? It involves love and attention. It requires generosity of spirit and the humility to enjoy something other than ourselves. But is delight simply a human emotion, something that’s evoked from our hearts? Or is it something else?
The great 5th-century theologian Augustine of Hippo believed that delight ultimately comes from God and is woven into every atom of existence. Moreover, he believed that true delight is the shared love of the Father and the Son, and so identified it most closely with the Holy Spirit. For him, to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with the ‘Lord’s own delight’.
Likewise, delight plays a central part in the vision of the 15th-century mystic Julian of Norwich. Her God and Saviour delights in creation and especially humanity, foibles and all. She writes:
…And in the same revelation, suddenly the Trinity filled me heart full of the greatest joy, and I understood that it will be so in heaven without end to all who will come there. For the Trinity is God, God is the Trinity. The Trinity our maker, the Trinity our protector, the Trinity our everlasting lover, the Trinity our endless joy and bliss, by our Lord Jesus Christ and in our Lord Jesus Christ.
In both Augustine and Julian, delight holds God, creation, and humanity together in an intimate relationship that’s a loving communion. To experience delight is to encounter God and be in harmony with his Creation.
Join us this summer for an extended period of quiet time during which we’ll explore Augustine and Julian’s understanding of delight in the context of worship, prayer, fellowship, and walks in the surrounding countryside. Participants will have the opportunity to spend time delighting in God, the beauty of nature, and each other, and to see how all three weave together to our benefit.
Our retreat will be based at Llangasty Retreat House, located in the beautiful Black Mountains in Wales. The House, formerly a convent for Anglican nuns, stands a little above Llangorse Lake, the ancient center of the Kingdom of Brycheiniog and next to a parish church whose origins go back to the 5th century. A perfect location to dwell for a time in delight.
Mark Clavier is Residentiary Canon of Brecon Cathedral and the Director of Convivium. He has led retreats in Wales, England, and the United States. Mark has written extensively on the idea of delight and especially on how delight functions in the theology of Augustine. He’s an avid hillwalker and has trekked in Norway, Iceland, the Appalachians, and the Alps.
Louise Nelstrop is currently a lecturer at York St John University and St Benet’s Hall, Oxford. She has taught and written extensively on Christian mysticism and spirituality, including Julian of Norwich. Louise is the founder of the Mystical Theology Network, an international network of scholars that aims to facilitate theological engagement with Christian mystical traditions.
The Retreat begins on the afternoon of 17 June and ends with lunch on the 19th. The cost for the retreat is £185, which includes room and meals. If you wish to join the retreat but not stay overnight at Llangasty, please enquire about day participants rates.
Bookings should be made with Llangasty Retreat House.
If you would like further information, please contact Mark Clavier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participants will be sent further details about the retreat, including a schedule and information about getting to Llangasty, in the spring.