James Friedenthal, a retired Clergyman, has been coming to Open Reflective Days at St Katharine’s for two years. 

On the second Monday of every month, The Royal Foundation of St Katharine hosts an Open Reflective Day, where people from all over can come to reflect, contemplate or just be.

James attends several times a year and gets tremendous value from having space to be quiet and reflect. James says, “The Open Reflective Day at St Katharine’s gives me a chance to reflect on what’s happening in my life. It gives me time to be still and quiet.” 

Guests are free to arrive from 8 am where teas, coffees and pastries are served in the lounge overlooking the gardens. An optional meditation is held in The Chapel at 10.30 am led by St Katharine’s Chaplain Carol Rider. According to James, “The meditation sets the tone for the day, and it often gives you some ideas that you might play with during the course of the day.”

James finds the welcoming staff and the loose structure of the day particularly appealing. He says, “The staff are such nice people and they’ve got a real light touch with regards to organising the day. They have a very gently guiding hand on the whole process. If you want to be on your own and do your own thing you certainly can. I like that it’s not too organised.”

As a regular guest at the Open Reflective Days, James has a notebook he takes with him each time. “Every time I go to St Katharine’s”, he says, “I write down all the people I’m praying for, the issues in my life that are worrying me, and the decisions that I ought to be trying to make. What I find very illuminating is that each time I go, I look back at what I wrote last time.”

Throughout the day, guests are free to use all areas of the grounds, including the library, gardens and The Chapel. James says, “It’s a big space and all of the grounds are at our disposal. There are a whole series of laminated handouts on different themes if you want to do your own meditation. You can pick them up, go sit down somewhere and read and reflect your way through them. Some people bring their own spiritual reading with them. I always bring a bible as well as my notebook.” 

Lunch is served in the lounge overlooking the gardens, following a short optional prayer in The Chapel. James says, “The food is very high quality. They have soup and savouries in the winter and a lovely array of salads and sandwiches in the summer.”

Of St Katharine’s itself, James says, “I find it the most extraordinary place. You get off the DLR and within minutes you’re walking into this beautiful, charming place. St Katharine’s often call it an oasis - and that’s exactly what it is.”

James finds attending the Open Reflective Days wonderfully beneficial for his overall wellbeing.

“By going to the Open Reflective Day, you’re being good to yourself by giving yourself space and time. I think that’s St Katharine’s wonderful secret - they make it a place where you feel good about yourself. I love going there.”

Open Reflective Days are held on the second Monday of every month at St Katharine’s, between 8 am and 5 pm. The day costs £25 including teas, coffees, pastries and lunch. To book onto one of our next dates or to find out more, click here.

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