Take the first step into the Wilderness

Visitors enjoy the quiet environment at Wilderness
Visitors enjoy the quiet environment at Wilderness
Mayor of Havant, Peter Wade, cuts the ribbon to the relaunched cinema with Community First CEO, Tim Houghton. Credit: Community First

Joy as nostalgic Leigh Park Community Centre Cinema is relaunched

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DO you ever get the chance to just stop and enjoy a moment’s peace?

Chances are, in this day and age, that you find those precious quiet moments increasingly rare.

There are so many demands upon our time and attention.

Last October, I wrote a piece in this very column about a new type of service we are running called Wilderness.

The idea behind the Wilderness sessions is that it is a quiet and reflective environment where people can engage with God at their own pace.

Visitors walk into a room with atmospheric lighting, ambient music and a variety of prayer stations scattered around the room.

Thought-provoking images are projected onto our screens, and worshippers can use all of their senses to engage with God at their own pace.

The original purpose was to provide a place where people could come and not be ‘ok’.

A place for people who are feeling worn out, broken or just plain fed-up, to come and honestly engage with some of those feelings.

In the year that we’ve been running Wilderness, we’ve seen it meet some of those needs: people have come who were struggling with bereavement or mental health issues and have found it a place where they can gently experience the comforting presence of God.

But something interesting has also been happening.

I have been noticing more and more people who come seem to value it simply because it is a quiet and peaceful space. It is almost as if the time they spend there functions like pressing a ‘pause’ button on their life.

For an hour or two, the busyness of life and all its demands can wait.

People can be left alone with their thoughts, or quietly occupy themselves in something simple like watching the water from a fountain, or dropping pebbles into a pool.

Pausing like this can be a healing experience.

Perhaps it is a part of our being – something that we were designed to need if you like – that is all too easy to neglect in our fast-moving world.

If Wilderness allows people to pause, then I’m delighted we can provide it for them.

Our upcoming Wilderness sessions will be taking place on February 12 from 6.30pm-8.30pm and on February 13 at 10am-12 noon, and 6:30pm-8:30pm.

If anybody is interested in the Wilderness sessions, you can visit our website – cogs.org.uk – for details.