We sat around in Adirondack chairs on the patio of the retreat house late last night. Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist. A little wine and a LOT of laughter. One of the first year students had been heard to say that she had not imagined a retreat like this one. Well, no; the silent retreats are NOT like this one. This one was for learning about each other and worshipping together and exploring the spirituality that has brought us together to form an unlikely but passionately engaged group.
The first year of our Ignatian spiriutality program is largely academic: classes every other week, all day workshops scattered through the year, SEVENTEEN papers on the theology, practice, and challenges of spiritual direction. Those of us laughing so freely on the patio have weathered that year, and not without rather vigorous debate. We have affectionately nicknamed ourelves The Fractile Fifteen. I haven't read The Shack, but I'm told that if you have, you'll get it.
Now we begin our practicum year, sharing the journey of attentiveness to God with our own directees. Classes are down to once a month, but we still have papers, as well as verbatims (shades of CPE), meetings with directees, meetings with supervisors, meetings with our own directors. Plus whatever else it is we do in life -- work, school, ministries, caring for kids and spouses, caring for elderly parents.
It's a good thing that we're all well versed in humor.
(PS: I'm off to my own silent retreat in two weeks and, as it turned out, one of instructors for this weekend's first year students, a 92-year-old Jesuit, had come down for the a day from my destination and is slated to be my director when I get there. I am thrilled. Rumor has it that he has been a major influence on my original director. I love being the beneficiary of decades and decades of Jesuit wisdom!)