Four Birds: Lent Retreat


Retreat in your own home with this self-guided Lent Resource. See below for more details.

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Self-Guided Retreat for Lent

This retreat is inspired by a fascinating book by Thomas Dekker who lived through pandemic of 1608-1609 when the Black Death tore through London, England. He was a playwright, and when the theatres closed he needed to “pivot” in order to live. He wrote this book of prayers, perhaps with each prayer sold to wealthy patrons. 

Using the image of Noah’s Ark, Dekker sent four birds from the Ark to lift prayers to God: the Dove, the Eagle, the Pelican, and the Phoenix.  He writes, “I have changed the notes of those birds’ voices into prayers of different music.” For Dekker, these birds lifted prayers to God. They were a response to the fears and struggles of the time. 

Following his image, I am calling forth these four birds for our reflection in such days as ours, and especially in the season of Lent. I am tracing the pattern of cosmic Love in the life, death and rising of Jesus. 

The retreat begins with an section on “Creating Lent Space as a Spiritual Practice” which offers a series of suggestions and practices to engage this retreat. It helps you build a Lent “nest,” to follow the metaphor.

There are four reflections with accompanying scripture and with contemplative invitations for consideration and prayer.
O Christ, the Dove.
O Christ, the Eagle.
O Christ, the Pelican.
O Christ, the Phoenix

You can use this resource in a day long retreat day any time in Lent, or work through a section at a time over the first few weeks of the season of Lent.

  • This is a digital resource. You receive a ten-page downloadable PDF file. You will find it in the confirmation email you receive when payment is confirmed. Please check your “junk” or “promotional” folders. Contact Janice by email if you experience any difficulties.

PLEASE NOTE: All 2021 Prayer Bench Subscribers receive this Retreat as part of their subscription. 

You may also be interested in the Holy Week daily email series, Soul Songs,

Janice Maclean is host of the Prayer Bench.


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