Namaste spirituality group wanted a daylong retreat between Thanksgiving and the beginning of Advent. I volunteered to help with organizing it. While there several choices for retreat centers within a relatively short drive, my collaborator found space for our group at the Benedictine Pastoral Center in Bristow, VA. It offered a reasonable cost per attendee and included a vegetarian lunch buffet which included soup, salad, entree (delicious macaroni and cheese!), and dessert.
Not having visited the monastery previously, we relied on the website and the pastoral coordinator for information about the space. The Benedictine monastery offers extensive grounds with walking paths, gardens, a labyrinth, and prayer silos (re-purposed grain silos decorated with stained glass panels and outfitted with benches). The prayer silos adjoin the labyrinth and its encircling gardens. The monastery also features a library, which visitors are welcome to enjoy.
During the fall, our group had used a Just Matters module on nonviolence to focus our weekly meetings. We wanted to carry the theme of nonviolence into the retreat, especially given the approach of Advent and Christmas, seasons of peace. In developing the agenda, we considered daily rhythm, grounded in the monastic tradition of Liturgy of the Hours. While individual and communal prayer anchors the daily schedule in a monastery, our group wanted more than prayer sessions. In developing the retreat template, elements considered included: learning, sharing, praying, reflecting, contemplation, movement, and creativity.
Goals for the retreat included pausing, building community, and exploring seasonal peace. The morning focused on the question: How can we be people of peace within ourselves and in our community? In the afternoon, we explored: How can I see with the eye of God? The “pause” goal points to a book we had studied previously: Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day by Macrina Wiederkehr.
A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
Prepare the way for Love.
The retreat helped renew our commitment to a spirit of peace. When our retreat concluded, the candle was blown out: “The flame is extinguished, but the spark remains in each of us to carry forth.” Namaste.
© Joan S Grey, 7 DEC 18
IndexCardCure™: may peace prevail on earth