By Julian, CiM
Finding God in Times of Transition was the theme for the annual retreat for Calgary and Edmonton Companions in Mission held in mid-June at the Star of the North Retreat Centre in St. Albert. The weather was perfect – gorgeous, hot days ideal for meandering around the beautiful grounds at the Centre. There were twenty Companions in Mission and six FCJ sisters, a great gathering of folks from Calgary and Edmonton. Our visitors from the South were most impressed with the Star of the North facility and expressed enthusiasm to return for future retreats here in St. Albert.
The planning committee consisted of thre CiMs, Laura, Maria and Julian and they crafted the retreat around the theme that transitions are a universal phenomenon relevant to any age group. At the outset, participants were invited to accept and celebrate that transitions are an invitation from God. We then moved into exploring how we cope with those “in between” times, the liminal space where something has ended and something new has not yet begun. The session Stumbling Blocks and Strategies led us into examining areas of fear, clutching for the past and how to respond to the multitude of voices that assail us during times of transition.
How vital it is to rely upon companionship, prayer and discernment to help us navigate turbulent times of transition.
There was contemplative time where retreatants could journal with guided questions and listen to sacred music while sitting in the chapel, contemplating on the Slow Work of God. A challenging exercise that required responsible companionship, was the session focusing on Living with Uncertainty. As an experiential activity, the participants paired off and engaged in a trust walk where one person is blind-folded and is led by a partner. How intensely difficult, we discovered, to rely on our other senses when we were the “blind ones”! Animated discussions ensued once we gathered back as a large group. Many of the insights shared could be equated to the insecurities and uncertainties we often experience in life. Who are the guides you lean on during times when the way forward may not be completely clear?
As pilgrims on retreat, the final session focused on Trasna, providing an invitation to move from our present way of thought and action to a radical transformation of how we think and act. To conclude the retreat, we celebrated the Eucharist on Sunday with Bishop Sylvain Lavoie, a truly authentic, insightful shepherd who genuinely knows how to connect with his flock!