A review by Sister Diane Reynolds

Published on page 30 of Retreats 2006 (ISBN 0-9548601-2-8)

Weeks of accompanied prayer and different ways of approaching this ministry are not new to most of us. Much has now been written about them, but what is original about this particular book is that Will Thompson has provided not just a handbook - he has shared the fruits of his many years of lived experience in helping people on their journey of prayer.

Although this handbook is specifically written for those accompanying a month of individually guided prayer, the way Will has mapped out its contents - with such clarity, simplicity and practical detail - makes it a superb tool for anyone involved in accompanying people on their prayer journey. With his personal discovery and experience of Ignation spirituality he has been able through his writing to prepare the way for others to tread the same path in their discovery of God. He meets them precisely where they are in their lives, while at the same time respecting the dialogue between each person and his or her Creator by not getting in the way.

This handbook will be a lasting memorial to the life of Will, who died suddenly and unexpectedly, on 15 May 2005, only hours after the completion of this book. Thank you, Will.

Diane Reynolds.

With thanks to all at the Retreat Association for the permission to reprint this review.

A review by Keith Jones

Rector of the International Baptist Theological Seminary of the European Baptist Federation, Prague, Czech Republic

Published in The Baptist Times

Amongst Baptists and other Free church communities there has been a marked growth over the last twenty years of interest in personal spirituality and in learning from traditions of spirituality embedded in the more catholic forms of Christian tradition and experience.

For me, a pivotal moment was the Presidential year of the Revd Margaret Jarman who took the opportunity to promote the value of retreats. Her commitment to this particular journey led to the formation of the Baptist Union Retreat Group.

Yet, Margaret would be the first to acknowledge others stood beside her in this strong desire to open up to a new audience the value for sustained discipleship of the immersion into the life of retreats as a real tool in the path of discipleship. One key person in this expansion of insight and an outstanding practitioner was the late Will Thompson of Yeovil.

Will has placed us in his abiding debt with the legacy of his revised book "Retreats in everyday life". Here, born out of years of experience, he offers distilled wisdom to help those who do not have the opportunity or the desire to undertake a retreat in a specialist setting such as a monastery or house of prayer, to nevertheless benefit from a renewal in personal spirituality as he unpacks for us the dynamics of a month of individually guided prayer within the midst of the routine of life.

What is especially commendable about this revised edition is that it is borne out of experience, hammered into shape as a result of those who have followed the pattern within it and whose experience has been used by Will to refine and reshape the month he sets out.

Some books on spiritual discipline and participating in retreats are hard to access for the novice as there can be a use of technical language, or assumptions made about prior knowledge. Will steers past this minefield in a masterful fashion to give us a book which is truly accessible to the newcomer, yet profound enough for the person who knows about retreats to have new insights uncovered and new vistas opened up.

The accent is upon the desire of an individual to draw near to God in an open and generous spirit. The pattern supposes the setting aside of an hour each day, with twice weekly meetings with an accompanier and group experiences at the beginning and end of the month. In the simplicity of the outline lies the profundity of entry into a deep spiritual journey. The book sets out clearly all the preparations to be made, patterns that can be followed, helpful material which might be used. The background resource, of course, reflects the Loyolan spiritual tradition, but that is not intrusive, rather, supportive of what is offered and the additional resource material is drawn from many directions.

Here is an ideal programme to be used by local communities, in small group work to stimulate an experience of spiritual growth. It is an excellent legacy from Will Thompson which can only be of encouragement to all seeking to experience new depths of spiritual growth and refreshment in the midst of life. This is a book to be obtained and used in our modern purpose-driven world as a refreshing tool for disciples.

Keith G Jones

With thanks to Keith for giving us his kind permission to reprint this review.

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