The Retreatants by Wayne-Daniel Berard

The Retreatants

byWayne-Daniel Berard

Kobo ebook | November 24, 2012

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The Retreatants tells the story of nine people on a silent retreat called “Experiencing Christ” at a retreat house identified only as The Center. Each of the nine retreatants feels that she or he has “lost God” in some way. Among their number are a sister whose religious order is dying; a reform-minded Catholic couple disillusioned by conservative trends in their Church; an ascetic and acerbic ex-seminarian; a woman who gained a doctorate in sacred scripture and lost a marriage. And then there is Lior, half-Jewish, half-Gentile, who has lost her parents and never found her identity. Their twenty-one-day retreat is led, surprisingly, by a Jew known only as Abramovich.

Part Tom Bombadil, part Lewis’s tutor “The Great Knock,” part Tevye and Baal Shem Tov, Abramovich challenges the sincerity of their intentions and exposes their presumptions and prejudices. During the course of the novel, the nine have their images of God and of themselves undone, boiled back, remade under the tutelage of this gruff, exuberant, mysterious, caring, enraging man. Abramovich challenges them with koans such as “Why did the God cross the road?” and “How do you know if a problem is real or imaginary?” They experience rituals they could not have even dreamt of, with Eucharistic slight-of-hand and a remarkable diversity of voices. The structure of the Center is itself part of the retreat, as its guests experience a pagoda/chapel that telescopes up and back upon itself, and rooms such as The Well (“Please Enter Alone”) and The Observatory (“Enter As a Group Only”).

But most telling of all, each retreatant receives a story, meant specifically for him or her, offering a version of the Divine that each needs to hear. Hence there are eight “stories within the story” in the novel (the married couple receives their story in common).

As the retreat draws to a close, the retreatants still have to respond to the overarching koan of their experience: “What is at the center of the Center?” But they—and the reader—come to the novel’s close having gained new insight and energy for future exploration.

Title:The RetreatantsFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:November 24, 2012Publisher:Wayne-Daniel BerardLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1301107514

ISBN - 13:9781301107513