Wednesday was our Team Retreat. The day began with Morning Prayer in the chapel. After Prayer, we moved to the Hesse Lounge for a brief Team Meeting to be sure we were prepared to welcome the three groups coming in this weekend.
By 10 am, we were back in retreat mode. Candy invited us to listen to a reflection on “The Spirit of the Piggies” to see what lessons pigs might teach us. For example, pigs don’t care what people think or say about them, they just use whatever God provides and do what they need to do to survive. We also learned that, contrary to the negative images of pigs in our culture, pigs in literature have a much more positive image: Piglet in the “Winnie the Pooh” stories is kindhearted and brave despite his fears; Babe is intelligent and has aspirations to be a sheepherder, which he does; the third pig in the “Three Little Pigs” is clever enough to outsmart a wolf. The pig is the last animal in the Chinese zodiac and represents wealth and luck from the ancient times.
After our reflection, we played a game called “Pass the Pig”. Two hand-sized foam pigs are tossed and points awarded based on how the pigs land – on their side, on their back, on their feet, on their snout and front legs, or on one ear, one leg and their snout. We broke into two teams, with Ron and JustBob serving as captains. Sr. Barb was the top scorer on JustBob’s team, and Jackie K. claimed the top score on Ron’s team. We all came back into the Hess Lounge for the “Pig-Off” between Sr. Barb and Jackie K., which Sr. Barb won.
After the games, Adele re-read ”The Spirit of the Piggies” and invited any comments on the reflection or any of the morning’s events. A few comments were exchanged about the reflection, but the morning’s reading from Job generated more discussion. The troubling line was Job’s statement that if we receive good from God, why should we not expect to receive evil as well. Several team members offered their thoughts about the passage’s meaning.
When it was time for Candy and Adele to set out the lunch they had prepared, the rest had an opportunity for friendly conversation and even a bad dad joke. Shortly, the bell rang for lunch and we were treated to chicken salad and bologna salad on croissants, zucchini-tomato salad and cake for dessert, always a hit with this crew.
After lunch we had the opportunity to spend a some time outdoors on a beautiful late-summer day. Adele invited us to each choose a rock bearing a word for one of four senses: vision, sound, touch and smell. We were to use the sense to observe our surroundings as we walked the grounds. Those who chose sound had one rather obvious observation: the loggers had called just before lunch to announce they would be here to start work at 12:30. We did not let the sounds of chainsaws, falling limbs and toppling trees distract us from the purpose for our day, though.
After our walk, we gathered at the campfire Candy had built and were invited to share our observations from our walks. Ron shared that his stone was “vision”, and he noticed a dead tree that was filled with colorful vines. He said that although one thing had died, another was thriving. He also commented that the basswoods trees by the solar panels, today’s first casualties, were planted by Fr. Peter Hesse, although he wasn’t sure it that was after Fr. Peter arrived in the late 50’s or if he may have planted them in the late 40’s when he might have attended seminary here.
After sharing, Candy spoke of gatherings around fires as sacred circles in most indigenous cultures as well as in our own culture. Ritual, ceremony, sharing dreams and stories, gathering around the fire, talking with beings other than humans are gestures that have shaped us as humans. She asked if anyone knew any campfire songs or scary stories they wanted to share. A few did share songs and one shared a funny-scary story from when his children were younger.
Before concluding the day, Candy brought out her sage and sweet-grass, and she and Adele offered a blessing and a prayer for our team and for our ministry. It was a day to pray, play, share, reflect and relax together as a team. What more could we ask of any retreat?
For the blessings of the camaraderie, fun, nature, reflections and relaxation as a team on our retreat, we say Deo Gratias!