“My word is…

Rejuvenating,” I responded, when asked to describe my feelings after this past weekend.  I just got back from our LVC Fall Retreat, held at Charter Hall in Perryville, MD.  We left quite franticly on Wednesday night in a 15-passenger van with Charles in the driver seat.  A couple of hours later, we arrived at a beautiful lodge on the Chesapeake Bay, joining many other LVCers: 3 houses from DC, 2 houses from Baltimore, and 1 house from Wilmington, DE.  What a joyful reunion it was for many of us who had fleeting friendships that were built quickly during orientation in the middle of August!  The Bon House was especially happy to see Casa Caritas – one of the Baltimore houses – who crashed in our house during orientation.  Truth be told, however, part of me was anxious about such a retreat.  I knew I’d be telling the two-sentence version of what I’m doing this year at least fifty times as we all tried to catch up, and I really didn’t want to put the energy needed into building new friendships.  But somehow, as the retreat went on, I didn’t feel that way at all.  Instead, relationships were built immediately… and much easier than I thought, based on the shared experiences we were all having through LVC thus far.  Maybe it was the beauty and calm of our surroundings, but it truly was one of the most peaceful and refreshing retreats I’ve ever had.  And perhaps one of the best things is that the relationships I already had with people were greatly strengthened.  I was afraid we would arrive and the Bon House would scatter, eager for some time away from housemates.  Au contraire!  Instead, we all stayed in the same room and found retreat in one another.  Likewise, we were able to get to know people from the other DC houses even BETTER than we already did.  What a weekend!

In addition to lots (much needed) chill time, we had a number of workshops: one on intercultural interactions, one on the Enneagram, one on simplicity, and an anti-racism workshop.  Some of these were actually challenging and thought-provoking – something I think we’ve all been craving since we’re not in college anymore.  I especially enjoyed the workshop on simplicity, led by one of the professors from Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.  He spoke about how simplicity isn’t actually simple, like it implies.  And rather than starting with that big scary idea of living your life more simply, the first step is understanding gratitude.  We have to be thankful for what we have to understand that we don’t actually need more.  His comments and stories were so understandable and really helped me to understand how to approach simplicity.

Every meal was made by one of the LVC houses, and three of the houses, including our own, led spirituality time.  Each spirituality time really helped to lead us through the retreat.  The Dag House helped us think about what retreat even is, and let each house talk a bit about what we need retreat from.  We led a centering prayer for twenty minutes as well as a movement prayer and an activity to remind us how important praying for one another is to build community.  Today, before leaving, Casa Caritas gave us time to think about what our weekend has made us feel and how we can take that back into the busyness of city life.

I decided that for my own personal health and well-being, I should leave both my cell phone and my wallet at home as I left for the retreat.  I did not regret this decision!  Without any line of communication to my job or other stresses of life, I spent so much time in conversation with others.  There really isn’t much that I love more than thought-provoking conversation (except maybe for massage trains, which we were sure to add into our weekend too…).

A talent show was schedule for Saturday night, and the Bon House was eager to strut our stuff.  By that, I mean that I taught my housemates a choreographed dance that I had learned in 6th grade, and we prepared to dance it to Mmm Bop.  Until thirty minutes before the talent show, we were the only ones signed up!  But with a little coaxing and a few more acts from the Bon House and Dag House, we rocked the talent show.  Our act ended it, as planned, and we encouraged the rest of the houses to join us in a dance party!  What a night.

This morning, before returning home, each house had to present a group covenant.  We decided to do an audio piece – a chance to actually use a thing or two I learned in my electro-acoustic music class last spring.  We sat down one night several weeks ago and wrote out what a covenant meant to us.  We recorded these ideas along with random audio clips from life in the Bon House to make our piece.  I’m hoping to upload it onto my blog if I can just figure that out, so stay tuned!

Also, be sure to check my Flickr sites to catch up on photos!  Life is good over here…  Hopefully you’re all planning your trips to the Bon House to see for yourself…

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