The beginning of this year has been challenging for me – I transferred placements early on, my partner and I are doing long distance, and I was trying to authentically engage in a new community where I didn’t feel like I fit in. After the retreat, something had changed – I even felt sad to say goodbye for a week as I went home for Thanksgiving. A bit of reflection on our shared time at the Midwest Fall Retreat, helped me to realize that it was a pivotal moment for me in my journey as a Volunteer. I was a bit apprehensive about the retreat, but I tried to focus on the parts I was excited for – a winter hike, bonfires, and game nights. I was also pretty excited to see what other houses did for their creative covenants, and to present our creative covenant (we created a buzzfeed-type quiz that matched people with the housemate they are most like – unsurprisingly no one matched me.. ha!). Despite not really wanting to go, I ended up creating relationships with other Volunteers and I deepened my existing relationships with my housemates.
I was unsure what to expect from a retreat at a bible camp in Iowa, but I was pleasantly surprised. We spent our days together engaged in group activities and sessions, and our free time included sitting around the indoor wood fireplace while playing games, a couple winter hikes, and even alone time to read!
The session on spirituality felt the most impactful. I haven’t been connecting my work to my spiritual life and have been having a difficult time finding a community that could nurture spiritual growth. This session with a Lutheran pastor from the twin cities was just what I needed. As a non-Christian, I appreciated her inclusive and thoughtful approach. We spent the majority of the morning in self-reflection and creative spaces. Part of our time was to be devoted to creating some type of artistic expression to hang on a bunch of branches carefully placed together to emulate a bush in the front of the room. At the end, we could all see what others presented as an expression of their spiritual life currently. We were invited to take someone else’s home with us as a representation of our commitment to hold and support each other in our respective spiritual journeys together throughout this year. It was a beautiful space.
Despite being a bit apprehensive in the beginning, it turned out the retreat was just what I needed to dig a little deeper and feel more rooted.