Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reunion of our Courage to Lead group for Clergy

Just back from a wonderful Courage to Lead reunion retreat in San Antonio held at the Oblate Center.

The Oblate Center is in the center of San Antonio, which is a huge city, grown by leaps and bounds since I lived there in 4th through 6th grades. The Center is an oasis of peace, calm, and beauty, with very comfortable hotel-style rooms and great food. It's where I spent a week every quarter for the Two Year Spiritual Academy back in 2001-2003, so the place feels pretty much like home to me.
This reunion group is amazing. People are so willing to share who they are....this is the group in which I learned, through being with them for five "seasonal" retreats in 2006-07, that "Courage Work," as it's called, is practicing authenticity. Oh, it's wonderfully powerful.

Our theme for the retreat was "Embracing the Paradox of Abundance and Scarcity." For my part, I shared the story of experiencing the abundance within me one night a few years ago...I was driving home from a weekly therapy group meeting, having spoken my deepest truth to another member of this group that evening. It had taken all the courage I had (and didn't know I had!) to speak this truth, and the result was less than I had hoped. Still, as I drove home, I suddenly realized that there is a part of me--deep within--that is absolutely inviolate. There is a part of me that cannot be harmed, cannot be wounded. There is part of me that no one can violate. And I actually experienced that part of me driving home that night. I experienced the love of God that IS my own soul. Within me is all the abundance of the cosmos, the image of God, the tiny little spark of divinity given to me by the creator/source of All That Is. This sounds strange, I know, but the experience was so powerful that I felt the inside of my little 1994 Corolla light up. Light filled that little car and just engulfed me. It was utterly ... well, no words can express it. .... ....

Scarcity remains, of course. I experience fear and worry and angst, still. But you know, all I have to do is remember that experience, and the fear usually flees! What a gift it was. What a beautiful, beautiful gift. .... ....

To commemorate our retreat, we gave each attendee a small piece of pottery, a plate, with a "loaves and fishes" motif, like this:
I'm going to order this bowl and a chalice, too, with the same design.

I want to share one more experience from this retreat. On the grounds of the Center is this statue:

I sat with it Monday evening for a good long while. Jesus comforting a young woman whose baby has died. say it was moving is such an understatement. The power of the life-size figures brought the very pain of the world to me. And yet Jesus has such a beautiful, joyful expression on his face...I've never thought of it quite like this, but I suppose one could say that the essence of courage is joy.

Wish the photograph had turned out better, but I took it right at dusk so the lighting is muted and only had my little iPhone camera...

Update: Jan just sent me a better photo


Jan said...

This sounds wonderful. Is this the conference that is related to Parker Palmer?

Katherine E. said...

Yes, Jan, it is.

Jan said...

I'm glad you could use my photo. I think the first one is great from an iphone at dusk! It gives the feeling of mystery.