Sunday, September 16, 2007

Group Retreat Weekend

Last weekend, my "live-ers" (the Sisters I live with) and me went away for a group retreat! We stayed at the Log House which is a part of the Cedar Valley Retreat Center in West Bend, WI.
We are a "new group" in many ways: Sr. Jan just joined us in July. Sr. Arlene and Sr. Beth have been with us for a year, but last year was unique with Sr. Arlene's traveling schedule and Sr. Beth's recovery from her accident; it was just Sr. Phyllis and me most of the year! And we are SO excited that we have Deb with us too. Deb is a woman who will be our new affiliate (see Nunspeak...formation stage numero uno if you need a refresher)!!! She will be officially affiliating with us on September 30th.'s very exciting. So we are 6...a big group!
With all of the "newness" and working off the adage of, "When one of us is new...we are all new"; it's a good practice in community to have sometime together to talk about how you want to share life with one another. We all bring expectations, ideas, and "non-negotiables" to how we want to live community. Getting together to focus on putting those things out on the table is a good way to start. Going away (rather than our living room, for example) allows us to really be present to the group and the weekend with fewer distractions that being at home would encounter.

So we gathered, we prayed, we played, we planned, we discussed, we negotiated, and we shared pieces of ourselves in order to begin to form our community life together. We had some deep sharing and also the important "nitty gritty" discussions (you know..who's cooking, who's cleaning, calendering...all those important detail things!)

I created our prayer service and discussion process using mandala as our framework (See April 19th entry "Run Away..with God" if you don't know what mandala is). We started with this blank mandala...if you notice, there are six circles along the perimeter and the same circle is in the very center. At one point in our prayer and sharing we colored in one of the outer circles to represent ourselves.

The mandala was left out throughout the weekend and people were welcome to add to it as they wished. To close our discussion, we each completed 1/6 of the center circle to symbolize our individuality/uniqueness coming together. The picture to the left is still mandala in progress....

We closed with a beautiful prayer service that Sr. Phyllis prepared on water and washing of the feet. Here are some pictures: To the right, is Deb washing Sr. Jan's feet.

And to the left, Sr. Arlene washing Deb's feet. Below is Sr. Beth washing Sr. Arlene's feet.

This washing of feet ritual is one of these recurring themes in my life. The first one was when I was accepted into affiliation on Holy Thursday and the Provies read the washing of the feet scripture and adapted it a bit and washed my hands.

I can be such a Peter-esque person in these situations! (Not something I like to admit either!) I remember thinking...Provincials...washing my hands really? I should be washing yours, Provies! Duh...Katy...duh...that's such a "duh, smack you in the face until you get it moment".

The first time I had my feet washed at a Holy Thursday service was one of these profound "God Moments" in my life. Very humbling...I still think about it. I even wrote some poetry (not something I'm moved to do very often) about that experience. my life when things come around and around AND AROUND, (Hmm...kinda like a spiral, SMAM?) I'm learning that perhaps I should be attentive to this. These feet washing moments are becoming present to me more and more. I always seem to have some reaction to it that surprises me.

If I have a few spaces these next weeks...I'd like to reflect on that a bit. I think it's a good metaphor too for how we are living out our vows...stay tuned...I'll post something if I figure it out (ha! If I have some space...well gotta have goals.)

I'll post one more picture of the "finished product". My spiritual director is an artist, I saw her Friday and brought our mandala along to see if she could help me cut some matting to fit it. We played a bit and ended up framing it with some strings and paper around it. It looks great. We'll hang it in our living room to remind us of our weekend and our commitment to one another. Sorry it's a bit dark...I didn't want the flash to bounce of the glass...but trust's cool! :-)

Now I HAVE to END this entry!!! It's 10:45 and I really should be in bed. I'm starting to get a cold (can we say STRESS...I hope I'm not starting my 3 week cycle of stress colds again. Grrrrrr) and 5:00 a.m. comes too quickly!

Peace out All!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yay for Deb's Affiliation--woot! The day after I'm Associamacated, too...what a great weekend!

-Sarah :)