Posted On 2018-11-01 In Covenant Life

Fresh in the Wind – a new format for religious retreats

GERMANY, Klaus Heizmann •

Ten men on a sail boat for a week off the magnificent coast of Croatia and under a gorgeous skyline over the Adriatic Sea probably happens more often than not. The Adriatic Sea is actually blue and still invites one to swim in October. Yet the fact that one of the men is Father Hans-Martin Samietz, who helps to create a framework for religious retreats, in which everyone can find the theme during the days of the retreat that is important to them right now – that doesn’t happen so often. —

Skipper (an experienced sailor with a corresponding license) Wolfgang came up with this idea with Christian and Peter. They then hired someone to accompany them as their gifted religious retreat companion and the boat was full very quickly. Participants were at home between Dresden and Lake Constance and had different dialects and approaches to Schoenstatt. Notwithstanding this, there was also different knowledge about sailing, knots, rules of the water, different professional equipment with oilskin (waterproof garments), sou’wester (oilskin hat), life belt and life line … this was all a very interesting mixture for our team!

After arriving by bus from Klein-Schoennstatt (Schoenstatt Branch Shrine in Munich) or by plane, we met in the marina nea Split and went shopping – so much that we were even asked at the pier if we wanted to sell some of it. But our spiritual cook and his helpers had systematically bought according to the extrapolated information in the cookbook of a Swedish furniture store. This really gave us a tasty basis for the spiritual food. And there were also several spiritual drinks included.


Keeping Silent, Hearing, Praying

The framework of the religous retreat consisted of a short thought before having breakfast together, which began in silence. After the conclusion of morning prayers from the book”Towards Heaven” and the day’s blessing, there were reflections on the daily route, which was based on the wind. Then we set sail (we spent the nights in our five double cabins on board, but in the harbour).  We either set sail or went on with the engine, while under deck the dishes were done in the quite respectable kitchen. While someone steered, there was then the impulse of Fr. Hans-Martin for the day. It was introduced with a suitable song, e.g. “Die Perlentaucher” by the Puhdys or “Mädchen aus Managua” by Gerhard Schöne. The biblical central theme was Jona. Father Hans-Martin deepened and transferred the stations of his differing way with God to our life situations. For the quiet time that followed there were questions regarding our life’s history and situation: Where do I actually flee from myself? What Aha experiences am I grateful for? Where do I quarrel with God?

It was a dream to hang out with your thoughts on the white deck under full sails, often not knowing what time it actually was. Every day afterwards we could celebrate the Eucharist on deck – sometimes with, sometimes without a roof – mostly in the doldrums, i.e. without sail or motor. Then there was a snack, especially bread with lard (as well as the coffee and somedrinks with a higher percentage brought from home). Thomas had to disappear several times below deck and get supplies from Klaus (the bigger one called Faxe).

Long Talks

The (late) afternoon was filled with sailing and boat manoeuvres like turning and jibing, saving a “man overboard” (who sat in a rubber dinghy), anchoring and swimming, having a flight with Kuno’s drone over our boat…. Once the distance and the wind allowed us to be able to sail hard with the wind  at over 7 knots in such a respectable heeling (sloping position) that we all had to be strapped in! Even Matthias, our tireless photographer! We also learned from him that for a Saxon an emerging seasickness feels “gaeksch”, while the visit in the mysterious blue grotto was quite “naeksch”.

After beautiful walks on land in the evening – we could often moor at the harbour promenade, for example in Rogoniza or in Milna, then look over the islands from above in the sunset – we sat together for a round of assessment. The review of the day and the things that moved us led to many long conversations. After the evening blessing songbooks were fetched, and as the people dwindled down we still continued singing, whereby Karl could use his beautiful bass, the big “Faxe” his small C flute and Kuno his guitar. It must have sounded quite nice with laughter about the many stories and jokes in between, because the next morning nobody looked at us crooked on the way to the shower.


We passed a huge cruise ship when we arrived on the last afternoon in front of the palm-fringed harbour promenade of Split. Some passengers waved to us from the high side of the cruise ship. Did they envy us? We certainly did not envy them. Richly loaded with many beautiful and deep experiences, a meal in busy Split concluded this wonderful week before the last night on our boat. Our return trip started at 5.00 o’clock. During the breaks on the highway we still felt the gentle swaying of our boat. This continued into the next days ….


Photos: K. Heizmann, M. Horwarth

Original: German, 26.10.2018 Translation: Lindsay Burger, Munich, Germany

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