Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mid-Year Retreat

Memories from our first half of the year

To open our retreat on a beautiful January day in Frankfort, IL, we had the opportunity to make our own collages with pictures from the past six months.  This gave us the chance to reflect on our time in community so far and all of our shared adventures.  The pictures were placed in the middle of a large table and everyone went around, searching for their personal favorites.  Pictures were shared and faces were cut out to form the perfect memories.

After lunch, we had personal and group reflections.  In the beginning of the year, we wrote a letter to our future selves which we were able to read during our individual reflection time.  We had the opportunity to write a new letter naming our goals, feelings and hopes for the next half of our service year.  It was a good time to focus on myself again and have some quiet time because most days our focus is on thinking about other people (the guests or community members).  After our individual reflections we gathered in small groups, with people from the opposite service site, to discuss and reflect on questions about our work, core values and community living (an activity that could lead to surprising revelations abut yourself).
Walking the Labyrinth

Free time was also a part of the retreat and we were able to throw the football around.  Most of us took the opportunity to walk around and enjoy the nature on a bright and sunny winter day.  This environment is the total opposite of working and living in the big city. We spent time exploring an old chapel from the 1800's and walking the labyrinth.  The labyrinth is in the shape of a circle and finding the way to the center can help you reflect in prayer.  When you finally arrive in the middle, you can sit on the stones at the center.  We also had the opportunity to see more of nature and to go on a walk at a creek, play games together and drink hot chocolate, continuing to bond with one another as a community.

Franciscan Outreach Jeopardy game, diving for the buzzer!
In the afternoon, we all gathered around a table with a big bowl of water.  Each person was able to drop a stone into the water and to light a candle to place on the water.  We used this to represent things (habits/behaviors) we wanted to "sink" or let go of and other things we wanted to "light" or begin doing.  This final session of reflection and the atmosphere in the room made us feel ready for the next six months of our service in the soup kitchen and shelter.

All-in-all I can say that the retreat was an important time for us, both individually and as a community, to recharge and put ourselves together again.  I appreciate the chance to go away with the whole community and venture away from Chicago, to have the opportunity to get to know my community members even better and prepare for the next half of our year.

2012-13 Franciscan Outreach Volunteers