Sunday, July 03, 2022

Sunday at Six Silent Retreat Reflection Freewrite


intransitive verb

  1. To move in a leisurely, relaxed way; saunter.

I think this freewrite will go on as long as I want and not be limited to fifteen minutes like usual. I woke up this morning so grateful, so humbled, and so glad I did not bail. I loved it, but it seemed like they did not necessarily need me. I also knew that I had other dreams, and the discernment community I had said they kept hearing that I have freedom. So, I needed to discern what I really wanted, and I am so glad I decided to do this again. I love my small group, and I will meet with two directees from other groups. I am happy about all of this. I loved hearing their stories, and I think I am better paired with my new partner, and that my old partner has a group all on his own. I was there to help him while he transitioned and graduated. Now that he is settled, it is a good thing that he has his own group, and I have one less person than all the other groups. So that is really good. 

I think I will use this time to reflect more on my silent retreat. Every 2nd Half Collaborative (2HC) Retreat (July, December, and May for each cycle), we have a 21-hour silent retreat between days 2 and 3. 

This time, I had no pressing matters to attend to. So, I had the full 21 hours. Reflection is a HUGE part of the 2 HC because, according to Trevor Hudson, "We don't learn from experience. We learn when we reflect upon experience." 

Here are my answers to the reflection questions. 

  What was the silent retreat like for you? Is there a metaphor you might use to describe how you experienced it? 

The word I would use to describe it is FREEDOM. I felt free as a bird to do whatever my heart desired. I didn't have anything pressing on me, and I could fully enter in. I guess the metaphor might be me looking out over a vast ocean. I kept hearing the song in my head "Wide Open Spaces" by the Dixie Chicks (oh, I just listened to the song, and they are now "The Chicks" to be sensitive) because I just feel like I have the whole world ahead of me even at almost 63 years old. 

I usually ride my bike for all of this, but I decided to just set out and walk slowly for as long as I felt led.

I wholeheartedly agree with Augustine who said, "Solvitur Ambulando" which is translated as "things are solved by walking." 

I walked and noticed what was around me with all my senses. I heard birds singing. I felt the perfect temperature. It started out chilly but quickly warmed up making me wish I had not worn my jacket. I saw the array of colors all around me from the blue sky against puffy white clouds to the many flowers blooming. I stopped to smell the roses (something this recovering Type-A did not used to do). 

About forty minutes in, I started reflecting on my OSU job that I recently left, and I started crying. I loved my boss and co-workers, and I grieved the loss of that (and the sweet good-bye video that my boss sent out to the whole department). It was good to grieve. I was stepping out of what had become more time-consuming over the years due to increased computer time, and it was really time to leave, but I will miss my students and co-workers, and it was OK for me to grieve that. 

I saw how people had decorated their yards, including someone who had made a wishing tree and supplied pens and paper for walkers by to tie their wishes to it. I thought that was cool (even though I would say prayers rather than wishes). 

As I walked, I thought about specific memories of spots I had been to along the way. Most of the memories were so good, and I savored those memories. 

I walked over to the Campus Way Bike Path and felt the "wide open spaces" of the fields of OSU. I made it to the Irish Bend Covered Bridge and delighted in the sounds of a bunch of children playing on the creeks underneath it (and all the bikes lined up in a neat row on the bike path). 

I walked back to campus and headed toward my old building. (It is a 2.7-mile round trip from my old building to the bridge and back and wondered why on earth this was not one of the routes for the Fitness walking class that I took over. This guy had them walking on sidewalks instead of in this beautiful wide-open space. I just cannot figure out why he didn't have more beautiful walking routes for these students. But I digress.) As I was walking toward my building, my immediate boss rode by on her bike screaming, "HI CAROL!" and then the boss I cried about also rode by and gave a wave. How cool is it that I should see them on the day I was grieving the losses of that chapter of my life?
After walking by the building and releasing that part of my history with all the happy memories of that building (98% happy and even the 2% was just that one misogynist male instructor who came to teach the class after me and bullied me ended up happy because that wonderful boss I mentioned above came to my class to observe and communicate in no uncertain terms that his behavior was unacceptable. So it really made that 2% convert. I really have nothing but wonderful memories of my time there.), I walked slowly through the Memorial Union just treasuring all the time I have spent there over the years, and I went into one of my happy places, the Lounge, and sat next to the big windows and open them and began a Centering Prayer time, but one of the Papuan students I have known for years came in to talk to her friend, and it was loud, but I also didn't want her to notice me and started talking to me since this was a silent retreat. So, I exited and went downtown to wander the wonderful streets, and I even ventured into Many Hands which is closing and had a Jane Austen doll for 75% off. I had no money with me (but we went back the next day and bought it - my collection of "all things Jane Austen" is complete - what a DELIGHTFUL find) so I moseyed on to the Riverfront and saw the kids dancing in the fountains. I didn't stop there and kept walking home. 

I was on about mile 9 (11.5 altogether for the entire day) when I saw a person riding their bike going the opposite way in my peripheral vision, and I didn't think anything of it until I heard a voice say, "Carol?" She had turned around on her bike, and it was Julia who had moved to Spain 6 1/2 years ago and is back in Corvallis! I had to break my silence, and we had such a lovely conversation on the road. Lovely woman. Lovely family. It was delightful, and she was blessed by the ministry of one of the women in the 2nd Half Collaborative who started a group called Velvet Ashes, and what is so weird is I had never heard of it until about 9:15 that morning when one of my coworkers in the 2HC mentioned that this woman had started it. What is the probability that you would hear about something for the first time and then hear about it a second time 5 hours later? I think that is a God thing and worth breaking your silence for! (I really did try.) 

The last two miles were hard. That is the longest I have walked for a long time. So, I got home, ate, drank, took a shower, and fell fast asleep. I rested and did some more Centering Prayer and stretching before I hit the hay really early! I woke up so refreshed and had a good time with God until I entered the last day of the retreat. 

  What happened to you in the silence? 

God was there. :) Fran, my spiritual director, once asked me if I have any problem connecting with God when I go into centering or silence, etc. I had to be frank and say, "No." I know that is not the norm, that many people struggle to focus, but I am just not that kind of person. Is it because I am an uber-relational Type Two? 

What happened to me was the space to grieve and gather the graces of seven wonderful years at OSU! That was the best part of it. I think I have closure.

  What gift did you receive during these hours?

The presence of God. Closure on a season. Sense of purpose for the next chapter. Confidence with the 2HC. 

  In what ways was this experience challenging or perplexing for you? In what ways might you have found yourself resisting it?

Never resist it, but that is because I feel the freedom to just be who I am and do what works best for me to do rather than feeling like I have to do it a certain way. 

  In what way(s) did you encounter God? Or in what way(s) did God seem absent? 

I was "with Him" the entire time. When Dan asked me what I mean by "coming into my own," I think this is the biggest thing, a moment-by-moment awareness of His presence with me. I have prayed this since I was 19 years old, but it is so true that I see it more and more as the years go by an ability to experience Him in silence or stress, in times of peace or pandemonium. that is such a good feeling.

  In reflecting on the entirety of our time together thus far, where have you noticed a shift in yourself or your relationship with God? Have you come to any new understandings? Has a question been honored? A desire met? A peace found?

I am so much more at peace about my role with the 2HC. I was just meeting so many NEW people all at once. I had only met Andrew briefly and Ed many, many years ago. So I didn't have much time before I was thrown in the deep end with all these people I didn't know. Among the participants (not the leadership) was a person I did know who I had difficulty in the past. It ended up being great, but I did enter in with fear and intimidation. It worked out well, but this time, things are more comfortable I was also able to speak up and say what I wanted to do, and it was honored, and I believe it went really well, really well. So, yay GOD! 


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