Opening Retreat

Thursday and Friday of last week I went away to the opening retreat of my Spiritual Directors program.

I got to the retreat center about half an hour late on Thursday, and panicked a bit (during that time I thought about the fact that perfectionism is high on the list of things to discuss with a not-yet-found therapist). I locked my keys in the car that morning (thought I had them in my hand, turned out my muffin was in my hand!), and sweet Mr. M left work and drove half an hour home to let me in. (Yes, I will be making a third copy of the key and putting it in one of those magnetic thingies.) I naturally assumed that in the half hour before I got there, all the other participants would become best friends, and I would be a weekend wallflower. I'm happy to tell you I was delusional.

Our retreat was wisely balanced between small groups, large groups, partner time, and solitude. There were laypeople, clergy, social workers, counselors. I was the youngest, the oldest was probably in his mid-60s. The group of 27 people was certainly women-heavy, but there were 4 men participating.

4 staff members guided us through the retreat, leading large group mediations, facilitating small group meetings, and meeting with each of us one-on-one. We met the small groups that we'll be working in for the next two years, and I have to say I really lucked out. I'm in with 5 warm, funny, bright people. I lucked out with my year's prayer partner, too. She seems very down-to-earth, and very sweet. It's really going to be a pleasure to work with these people.

By the second day, I'd reached the limit of my ability to concentrate-- particularly in individual contemplation. Here's the truth: I love solitude. I love quiet retreats. BUT, if there's an interesting person just around the corner, solitude drives me clean out of my mind.

We're diving straight into the deep end, in terms of direction. By January we each need to be providing Spiritual Direction for two people. I think I'll work that out two ways-- to advertise with the parish where I interned, and to offer my services to the local college. I'm particularly interested in working with the college. In the long run, how great would it be to set up group discernment there? College ministry is so exciting to me.

I don't have much more to tell, yet. I'm still a little worn out, and I like to take a little while to process. For now, I'll just leave you with my favorite spot of the weekend. Isn't this lovely? There's a fire ring in the middle.

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"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins