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Monday, April 9, 2012

Retreat Reflection

A couple of weeks ago, my Small Church Community took a day-long retreat. This retreat was planned just for our little group by the pastoral associate from the parish of one of our members. Let me tell your right off the bat...she was awesome & this retreat was incredible, full of laughter & tears, joy & sorrow.

A little background on our group: This Small Church Community was formed about 20 years ago (I joined the group about 12 years ago) through the "Come as You Are" program. At the time, we were members of the same parish at the time. All but one have since transferred to other parishes for a variety of reasons. Also, due to moves, health issues, births, & deaths, the number of members has fluctuated. Currently we are six members strong & better described as a very close faith family.

Over the past couple of years, we have gotten off track & we felt a retreat would be the perfect thing to help us refocus our priorities.

We gathered about 9am. After a prayer to get us started, we were led in a guided imagery meditation. Next we went into the sanctuary to spend time reflecting on the statue of the Risen Christ emerging from the stone wall behind the altar. Each of us sat in a different spot from where we've sat before so that we could gain a different perspective of this beautiful statue. When we got together again, this time in lobby of the church, we discussed our thoughts. It was very interesting to hear how each of us had different revelations from the image.

After lunch, we met again w/ our focus on Mary. We prayed the rosary, then watched a brief, yet powerful & emotional, video of scenes from Jesus of Nazareth & The Passion of the Christ. She also led us through a prayer of forgiveness & reconciliation.

Something that really struck me about our retreat director was her responses to things we said. She had the perfect thing to say...whether an offer to pray, a story from her own life, or just a great thought. None of her comments were of that "one-upmanship" type that you often hear. Each comment was sincere & heartfelt.

One of my favorite activities of the retreat was a paper lunch sack. Each one held a different item...an ordinary object. We were to take some time alone w/ that object & figure out what God is trying to communicate to us through it. After all, God isn't only in our extraordinary faith experiences, He's in the ordinary, too & we just need to be open to recognizing them.

Each of us "chose" (by God-incidence!) the PERFECT item for that point in our lives. Mine was a scallop seashell. I sat in the back of the chapel w/ my seashell & almost immediately "heard" what God was trying to tell me.

This shell is one from a sea of many. Like this shell, I am one in a sea of many...wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends. I cannot change/fix/do all, BUT I can do what I am able to do, using my talents & gifts. I have a tendency to compare myself & my family to others. I need to stop comparing myself because each situation is different.

I wish I could go into more detail on how this retreat affected me, but as one of our members put it the other night...it's just one of those things that just can't be put into words. Retreats touch each person in a different way. I'd never been on one w/ such a small group (small in number, but BIG in faith!) & the intimate setting was what each of us needed that day. I look forward to our next one...and there WILL be another! We're thinking of making this an annual activity for our group.