Making space, by Nicki Copeland

I was hoping that in this blog post I would be sharing with you something of my recent visit to the Holy Land. Having never been there before, I was planning to visit earlier this month. However, Covid-19 put paid to that, and the trip was quite rightly cancelled, at very short notice.

However, having had a very busy and demanding few months, I knew I still had to get away for a few days. So I took the opportunity to go on retreat for a few days at St Katharine’s Parmoor near Henley-on-Thames. (It’s a lovely place – highly recommended.) I phoned on the Monday morning and not only did they welcome me the same day, they even offered me lunch! So I quickly packed my bag – which hadn’t actually been unpacked from the planned Israel trip – and headed off.

I was there until the Friday, and for most of the time I was the only guest. For an introvert such as I am, it was bliss! I prayed, I read the Bible, I went for walks, and I read through five and a half of The Chronicles of Narnia books. I read the other book and a half after I got home.

It was such a gift to be welcomed and so well looked after, and I deeply appreciated the break from work, not to mention not having to wash clothes, cook dinners or answer emails.

Sometimes our plans change, often at the last minute. Particularly at the moment, things are very uncertain from one day to the next. Our plans might need to change, but, as the old saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat. So we need to consider in what other ways our goals can still be achieved. How can we reach the same destination by going via a different path?

Perhaps, like me, you’re used to having the house to yourself all day and every day when your family or housemates go to work, and you’ll need to adjust to having people around. Perhaps you live on your own and need to adjust to not going out and interacting with people. Some of the changes we face will be challenging; others will present us with opportunities.

The time away on retreat was a wonderful opportunity for me to reconnect both with myself and with God. It has given me some new ideas for writing, and seems to have enlarged the channels of communication with God, and I seem to be able to hear him speaking more at the moment.

Perhaps, as life begins to slow down for many of us, this is an opportunity to explore new ideas for writing, perhaps to even explore new genres and developing new skills. Perhaps there’s a market for a recipe book using the most random ingredients we find at the back of our kitchen cupboards, who knows? (I do know I won’t be the one to write it, though…)

Our God is a very creative God. I wonder what he has in store for us over the coming weeks and months, as we press in to him more deeply?

Nicki Copeland is a freelance writer, speaker, copy editor and proofreader – and loves anything to do with words. She is the author of Losing the Fig Leaf and Less than Ordinary? She is also responsible for the day-to-day running of Instant Apostle publishers. When she has the luxury of some free time, she can invariably be found with a book in one hand and some chocolate in the other. 


  1. My idea of heaven, Nikki. I recently read all the Chronicles of Narnia again while enjoying some quiet time and it was bliss. You're right, we are all going to have to expect changes, but while pressing in ever closer to God.

  2. I am really not good at facing new challenges but it is somewhat comforting to know that I am one of millions having to adapt! We're all in the same rocky boat. So, as I battle with having to move all my tutoring from face-to-face to online, grappling with Skype and interactive online whiteboards and dodgy internet connections, I am trying to remember I'm very much not alone, and that keeps my heart rate down ;)

    1. Yes, indeed. I've just recorded a short devotional for my church online group - seriously out of my comfort zone...!

  3. Thanks Nicki. This is great. I've been on day retreats before but never one that long. I too love the stillness and silence. I must admit I'm not personally finding being at home a hardship - time for the novel - and feel slightly guilty about it, when I know it's hard for so many. This post gives me the freedom to enjoy it as well at pray for those who can't.

    1. Thanks, Deborah. Yes, it's important that we acknowledge how we feel without feeling guilty. We're all challenged by different things. Like you, this is less of a challenge for me than for other members of my family, and I'm praying for them, and for all for whom this is really difficult, for various reasons x

  4. Thank you Nicki. I used to go on retreats every year but haven't since the one I was using closed down. But Marilyn and I are (
    supposedly) leading a retreat at St Katharine's in august. Thanks for your inspiration.


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