It was probably the unusual title that first attracted me to sign up for this 24-hour retreat - and as it was at The Royal Foundation of St Katherine in Limehouse, I knew it would be interesting.
The retreat was led by Ivor Moody who is a Dean at Chelmsford Cathedral and very interested in the potential link between secular music and “the sacred”. It is Ivor’s belief that there is a very deep meaning in many popular songs that we as Christians often miss.
For this retreat, Ivor developed an extended reflection/ meditation on the Emmaus Road story, using well known popular songs as markers to illustrate various aspects of the story.
We began to read the story of Cleopas and a companion walking deep in sorrow and confusion away from Jerusalem, not really listening to the questions the stranger was asking them about recent events in Jerusalem, so bound up were they in their bereavement.
Who would have thought “Don’t let me be misunderstood” sung by Nina Simone would have echoed so much of that conversation?
We then worked through a total of six songs, including “Message in a Bottle”, “Blowing in the Wind” and finally “Let it Be” before we ended this really insightful meditative study 24 hours later?
Within our own prayer and quiet time we were asked to draw our own Emmaus Road, charting the highs and lows of our own faith journey and at a final Eucharist, we laid our papers alongside each other, showing the uniqueness as well as the similarities of our own journeys.
Seeing that road stretched out across the beautiful Chapel was a special, serene moment for us all.
Ivor has written a book “Songs for the Soul” which can be used as a six week course - possibly next Lent?