1125: Refresher: Notes from March Retreat and a Brother Toby Reflection
Day 1125: Saturday, April 15, 2023
Refresher: Notes from March Retreat
There are so many joys, but I have only known the ones that come like a miracle, touching everything with light.” - - Anais Nin
Dear Sisters and Brothers: Please remember that we have a one-day retreat next Saturday, the 22nd of April at Enid and John's home. Here are the notes from the first retreat in March. I'll share the agenda for next week's retreat as soon as I receive it.
Results of OUR EMMAUS ONE DAY RETREAT March 4, 2023:
"Who Do We Say That We Are?”
A day of discernment and a chance to connect, communicate, contemplate and possibly make changes to our community.
March 4, 9:30-4:00
NOTES from the
Large Group Discussion afternoon portion of our day:
"Who Do We Say We Are As A Beloved Community?”
(Each person spoke, in a brief go-round, offering one or two topics that they would like to see the large group discuss during our afternoon together)
• The importance of seeing our community as a “web of relationships and connections.”
• Engaging in small groups; having simple soup suppers to foster closer connections.
• The importance of having guest speakers, for our community, as well as outreach.
• Spiritual should be at the top of our Emmaus list.
• Our community needs to create an equitable division of workload.
• Emmaus is where I can be intimate in my sharing with myself and others.
• Ways to encourage sustained dissent possibilities.
• Issues on aging, and our support of one another as we age.
• Ways to make global connections with what we are doing as a small faith community.
• How Emmaus can clarify the expression of our action and presence as a faith community so that others know what we stand for.
• Through our baptism, we are all called to priesthood; how do we express our individual priesthood?
• How do we respond when people ask us, “What is Emmaus?” What is our Vision / Mission Statement? What are ways to clarify how we see ourselves and how we express this to others? (Bookmarks, internet access, etc.?)
• Ways to simply be a small alternative, inclusive Catholic / Faith Community sharing a meal together.
• Emmaus ends in “us”! Develop a short, simple statement that evokes our inclusion, conversation and openness.
• Ways to be more welcoming, share our good news and do outreach that all are welcome here at Emmaus.
• We are small “c” catholic. What does this mean?
• Catholic-ish; with more of an interfaith component.
• What does Conscious Aging mean, and how can we be more conscious in our aging?
• See Emmaus as a group of “heart-centered spiritual seekers” and prefers the small intimacy that our current numbers foster.
• What is happening to the organizational aspects of Emmaus: i.e: Board meetings; treasurer, secretary; need to look at the operational aspects of Emmaus (especially as a 501-C3, what are the legal requirements)?
• To look at where we are going. Are we sustainable over the next 5 years? Are we thinking about “legacy” and “succession” planning?
• Are we thinking about the emphasis on Catholic with a big “C” rather than questioning a more interfaith / multi-denominational approach?
• Do we need a “definition of terms” in order to express and see what “priest” or “healer” actually looks like?
• The need to be free to share my deepest self and be held / loved by this Emmaus community.
• What is the social action that Emmaus takes, and how does it show up? (Sam Jones, caring for ourselves and each other, etc.,).
• When we first began our discussion, liturgy was not mentioned…why?
• How can we highlight and promote the "incarnation aspect” of our faith?
• How might the Liturgy Committee be more robust in training and encouraging presiders so that our liturgies become more of a group effort rather than an individual enterprise?
• It’s important to remember that we are all coming out of three years of COVID and how that has affected, and is still affecting, everything.
• Are we the Catholic Church or something else?
• Can the Liturgy Committee meet more frequently to discuss developing more creative aspects of our liturgies?
• Catholic / Christian: how do we deal with the impacts that these terms generate, especially in this era when “Christian” is being combined with nationalism, etc.,?
• What are the possibilities of creating small regional groups (spirituality groups, book study groups, etc.,) and how these might help in our desire for more intimacy and connections?
• Of all that we have been discussing, 5 areas seem to be surfacing:
• the desire for more INTIMACY/ CLOSER CONNECTIONS
…and how meeting again as a large group, or in selected small groups, might help in the deeper processing of these areas of concern and interest.
Reflection by Brother Toby: Joy in Rough Times
I was listening to a scientist whose task was to record the species of plant, insect, bird, and mammals that became extinct every 24 hours. The estimate was between 150 and 200 species every day. This is greater than anything the world has ever experienced since the vanishing of the dinosaurs nearly 65,000,000 years ago.
The scientist had an extremely sober countenance, which was certainly justified as he looked into the future. Toward the end of the question-and-answer period, a young person asked a remarkable question: Is there anything that brings you joy? The scientist’s face immediately lit up as he expressed his exuberance at the beginning of each day when he found himself surrounded with all the beauty that nature provided.
I was moved by his response. We so often act as if we are entitled to having everything be okay, and then we can be joyful. But the fact is, life is seldom okay for us or the culture in which we live or the planet which is our home. Isn’t joy necessary even in those circumstances, which are the normal moments of life? I started looking around for others who felt this way.
Wendell Berry’s (1935- ) writings are filled with what he once described as, “a free nonhuman joy in the world.” Once weighted down with worry and trouble he caught sight of a Great Blue Heron making a stately descent. Then without warning he did a backward turn in the air, a loop-the-loop, and flew out of sight. Berry found his mood had turned from heaviness to delight. I don't see many Great Blue Herons but if I become truly aware of the creatures around me, big and small, their approach to life often brings me joy even in the darkest of times.
Outdoors we are confronted everywhere with wonders; we see that the miraculous is not extraordinary, but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread
- Wendell Berry
Anais Nin is not someone I know much about. But a friend just told me that Nin’s father abandoned her when she was 11 and she started writing a letter to him that lasted all of her life. She was capable of making the amazing statement, “There are so many joys, but I have only known the ones that come like a miracle, touching everything with light.”
The thought occurred to me, do I really leave room for these miracles when times are rough? They are there, and perhaps more accessible than at moments of cheerful pleasure.
Then there is Francis of Assisi (1184-1226), who was in great pain and going blind when he composed his wonderful Canticle of the Sun. In that he takes joy in the sun, the moon, the stars, the wind, water, fire — which is “beautiful and playful and robust and strong” — and all of Mother Earth, fruits, flowers and herbs.
Francis’ Canticle is like a checklist of things that can bring us joy in hard times. What can I say? We should go over that checklist when our spirits are down.
I wondered where I should go from here, when my feline companion Tigger walked across the computer keyboard. I think I should take that as a hint and stop — more joyful than when I started!
- Brother Toby
This Friday reflection was originally published April 28, 2017.