It went like this: A friend asked on Facebook, “Hey, who will watch my animals while I am on a journey?”
I knew that she lives on a beautiful farm in the Netherlands, so I responded jokingly, “Shall I come to take care of your animals?”
She said, “If you come, I will pay for your ticket!”
I said, “Now we’re talking! Can I use your farm to host a retreat?”
She responded, “Yes, do what you want.”
Then, Jelle and I made a plan for a series of silent days. We could hardly believe what happened: 65 people signed up!
My friend’s farm is on the edge of a former sea. The Dutch people did not want the sea (read the story on Wikipedia of how many people drowned there over the centuries), so they dried the land, which is now called, “The Polder.”
One other fact: the Dutch are well-known for continually talking to consider all sides until an agreement is reached whenever there is an argument. The word for this is polderen: solving problems until an agreement is found. Or, in other words, just do not give up! That is the positive side. The other side is the stubbornness.
So, I went. I lit the fire early in the morning, walked the dog, fed the chickens, cuddled the cat, and hosted the retreats. Jelle took over the family at home, and all the girls got some chores to do.
At the beginning of the chapel moments, I told one or another story. We lit the candle, listened to the Word, heard a song, and entered into silence for a couple of hours.
Some wrote their own psalm, others just sat into silence for hours. The atmosphere was precious. Experiencing silence together is unique. We had a silent walk. And the day’s went by pretty fast.
I have brought my soul to silence. Ps. 62.
On the way back home, I felt quite overwhelmed by all the impressions I had gotten over the last days. I hosted seven silent days. Each day, I had different guests. There were around 7–10 guests each day. There were so many moments of beauty, silence, and precious people. What a gift! How do I summarize this in a blog post? Just see it as an impression.
Four times thumbs-up after the silent days in the Polder
- First of all: the silence, the contacts, interaction with the guests; the trust, the ability to enjoy and receive; the care and the openness to embracing silence; and their patience with me.
- How the guests responded: “Sauna for my soul. Unique, pure, beauty in simplicity. The handmade candle, creative writing, were inspirations for the future. Love the woodstove, Dare to dream. Pure joy! A treat. Inspirational.”
- 10 pairs of hand-knitted socks were sold, which brought hope and a bit of income to a woman in Serbia.
- Some income for us, which is very welcome, as you might remember 😉
Thank you Jelle and the girls for making this all possible. I have been the one in the spotlight, but I could never have done this without you all encouraging me. Thank you!
PS: Just let me know if you need somebody to watch your animals 😉
What a wonderful experience for you and all who came. I know I would have loved it.
Yes, Tricia, this is totally your thing…. Who knows what the future will bring;-)
What a blessing to you and your family and to those you hosted. God is good and surprising !
Finally having a chance to read this, Janneke! Beautiful photos, beautiful reflections, and, it sounds like, a beautiful time for all. Silence. Yes. Blessings and may these continue in the future!
Yes, dear Elizabeth, who knows what the future brings! Let’ s keep dreaming and make it work when the time is right. Looking forward to see you this Summer in Germany.