Part of maintaining a healthy spirituality and perspective on life involves punctuating it with moments that might allow us space and time. For many, the Soliton Sessions are becoming a space to allow just that.
The Soliton Network is a global network of cultural creatives, missionaries, activists, church planters and Kingdom entrepreneurs, in dialogue about 21st mission, justice, spirituality and the church.
Soliton’s main expression in the Sessions is shared by those who are committed to the friendship and its rhythms, but also comes with an open invitation to any who would want to set aside a weekend for collective retreat.
Those who have experienced the Sessions generally make two claims in reflection:
- They are completely unlike any other conference they’ve experienced
- It is difficult to render the Sessions into words
The rough contours include conversations/food/music/worship of various shades/communion. Hospitality and generosity are some of the main rhythms and so the host community ensures that all accommodation needs are met. As a reflection of our commitment to friendship and family, the Sessions also incorporate kids into the activities while also allowing space for them to interact with each other.
The Soliton sessions have been a source of spiritual nurture and community for those of us who find ourselves drawn to conversation about God and exploration of spirituality, but who might feel a little out of place in church. We struggle to make sense of our lives – to make them count – but we are not sure how to negotiate the space between religiosity and faith. We are compelled by the question of what it means to live a good/just life, and take courage on the journey from fellow travellers.
For some of us, Soliton has helped us make connections between our searching and the desire to find a path that can be traveled on. There is good conversation, shared food, and the opportunity to reflect on serious questions without taking ourselves too seriously. At previous sessions, we have explored questions of human hospitality, justice, art and spirituality, sexuality and theology, community, and any number of other issues that arise when people committed to such exploration get together.
Session facilitators are thoughtful and speak from a broad cross-section of life, such as media, church and missions, the marketplace, education, the voluntary sector and many more. The dialogue inevitably challenges and frequently leads into uncharted territory for those sharing the Sessions, but is as much about building friendship as it is about exploring ideas.
There is always a great emphasis put on context. As Soliton becomes a friendship for others and the desire to host it in various countries by various communities arises, indigenous expression is a non-negotiable. Unavoidably we’ll be thinking and speaking with an Ireland/UK focus, but the global commitment to the friendship and network always means that new perspectives are introduced by those who make the journey from wherever they come from to share in the Sessions.
The next Soliton Session will take place in early February 2007 in Belfast and Portrush, northern Ireland. The Session facilitators include, at this point, William Crawley (BBC broadcaster/Belfast); Andrew Jones (global missionary); Jonny Baker (CMS/London); Anna Robbins (lecturer at LST/London); Greg and Michele Russinger (The Bridge Communities/California); Kester Brewin (writer and teacher/London); Pete Rollins (Ikon and writer/Belfast); Laura Bagley (ISAAC/Global); Pete Brierley (Church.co.uk Youth Worker/London); Gareth Higgins (Zero28 and writer/Belfast); Si Johnston (Car Industry and Protest4/Coleraine)
If you would like any further information or to register for the 2007 Celtic Soliton Sessions in northern Ireland, please visit http://www.solitonnetwork.org