I found this lovely rose garden (I didn't have my camera) which reminded me of the secret garden; it was enclosed and there was a gate that you passed through. It was nice. The layout was in a circle (like a labyrinth) and "Everyday God" came on my player. It was a really lovely meditation for me. I was all energized with this walk as I returned back to the Emmanuel College campus to finish last details for the conference.
While the rest of the crew was preparing (i.e. Sr. Leslie, CDP to the right getting the world ready...you go girl) I was staffing the registration table tonight. That was such a fun job. I got to greet people and meet them as they came in. It is so ENERGIZING to meet so many young nuns from congregations I'm unfamiliar with. I was happy to meet them and help them get settled.
Then we gathered in the auditorium, which will be our processing space for the weekend. We are seated in groups of 8 sisters; in circles. We will be in the same groups all weekend. The process we are going to engage in asks us to open ourselves a bit to a place of openness, honesty, and vulnerability. It is a contemplative process where we ask ourselves the same question over and over, but in light of our previous experiences and discussions the impact of the question will shift. For me...to be honest...the process sounds interesting. I have a hard time with "SLOW DOWN" "BE QUIET" processes; however, this one requires analysis and intensity..which I like. Who knows...this may be my key to BALANCE! (insert Hallelujah chorus here)....
The environment was to reflect the world. Our weekend's topic is: Listening to Voices Across Continents. In the middle of each circle of chairs was a photograph of some aspect of unrest (political, creational, social, etc...)of a part of the world. We all were representing a cardinal direction (i.e. my group was East and we had a picture representing poverty in Asia).
Sr. Lisa, RSCJ (my bud!) wrote a prophetic mantra which really set the tone. Sr. Leslie began with the most moving ritual movement I have ever experienced. She was so graceful and what touched me the most was how it was really moving from her heart. I told her (I'm an educator...I had to give feedback) "Leslie...I move on an 8 count..you move with your heart" I was grateful for the appreciation of this prayer style. It was really moving (no pun inteded...I was authentically touched)! Then the groups represented by the directions 1 at a time were invited to stand and hold their image of that part of the world. Leslie gracefully led them to the center where they removed a scarf and world candle and returned to their circle; leaving their image behind on the stage. We all ended with our own scarf and globe candle in our circle. The meaning I took from it was, the environment was set; however, when we all gathered, we become the environment; it was very unifying. Coming from 60 different congregations and what binds us together this weekend is being "younger" and/or "newer" members...that was a powerful image to start a weekend.
We were told today to assume that we have learned from the past; as often in our congregations we reflect on "the past" and/or are told how much we have yet to learn. Albeit, very important, today we were given the freedom to say "yes...we learn". We have committed ourselves to "learn of the future" for the weekend. The future of religious life, or at least a representation is gathered. What can we learn from the wisdom of the future? We are giving ourselves the freedom to tap into that wisdom. That is so powerful for me. I am anxious for the process to unfold!
And the question we will ask ourselves and share our truths and wisdom this weekend: "As women religious, here and now, who must we be, what must we do?" We'll see....as we welcome the wisdom and the spirit in our presences this weekend.