Thursday, February 10, 2011

If You Want Peace, Work For Justice...

I'm so glad for a few days off after a retreat to just let things simmer and to slowly make my way back into a work rhythm.

The MercyWorks Winter Retreat focused on spirituality and social justice, two of our five core values. We had it at the La Salle Manor in Plano, IL, a huge lodge that made it feel like we were meeting in the middle of a giant tree. It was the perfect time to get away from the city after being stuck in all the snow for most of last week.

We started off the retreat by having our own little Super Bowl party. We have no true Steelers fans among us, only spiteful ones, so it was a fun game to watch even on the tiny screen we had. Our favorite commercials were the Volkswagen one with Darth Vader and the Reply All Bridgestone one. I noticed that many commercials were violent, though, it didn't matter what they were selling. Violent and apocalyptic, which says a lot about the times we are living in. And I was totally appalled at the Groupon commercial reducing the Tibetan people to their fish curry. We MercyWorkers are probably one of the more sensitive groups when it comes to the exploitation of the underprivileged or suffering, so all of our jaws dropped at this one.

our pathetic little least the picture was good!

I could go on about playing on stereotypes for a quick laugh and then tie that in to several things we discussed during our retreat, but instead I'll just let you assume that we created a smooth transition from football to fighting for change. We like to start retreats by sinking our fears and floating our hopes--dropping stones into a bowl of water and placing flowers to float on top--and this is an awesome way to center and focus on what you want to get out of retreat. I sunk cynicism, since that's usually what stops me from caring/doing something about social justice, and I floated floating--I've been having troubles sleeping lately, so I just wanted to go into retreat with a sense of peaceful mindlessness. Floating would be my hopeful optimism for real change in the world.

I'll quickly outline the next three days of retreat and go into more depth in future posts. Each day had two or three sessions focusing on creating action plans for social change, discussing social justice issues closest to our own hearts, creating intention posters for our overnight prayer vigil, and connecting our own spiritualities to social justice. The night of the prayer vigil was also the silent part of the retreat, no talking for twelve hours. I found that night both the most difficult and the most rewarding, which I guess shouldn't be surprising. Another night we spent enjoying each other's company by playing silly games. I think I grew closer to more than a few of my community members this week.

Almost time for acupuncture...I'll be back on here later to post pictures and write more.

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