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Sacred Group Retreats to Make Change
By Douglas D. Germann, Sr.
c Copyright 2004, Learning Works, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
There is a power that shows up when a committed group of people gathers. You have seen it: something clicks, something flows, enthusiasm grows, and soon something unexpected happens. Something good and surprising.
How do you consciously tap into this power?
My experience is that you cannot command it, you cannot give it a schedule. This something--call it spirit or even Spirit--blows where and when it will.
What you can do, however, is invite. And open.
What that means on a practical level is that you gather elements--seeds, water, air, earth and fire--and you provide space, as much of it as possible, for divinity to happen. So it requires trust, but only a little, for we know that when invited, Spirit comes.
The seeds are people and their hopes, fears, desires, passions, ideas: all highest and best you have. Earth is grounds and great outdoors: choose a retreat setting that will allow people to get out in nature, for many these days see God in nature.
Air is fresh air to breathe. We need oxygen and all trace gasses in order for our brains to work and our spirits to fructify. Fire is sunlight--plenty of windows and maybe even a skylight or two so we can see a larger world, reach to touch stars.
Water: we told we are 98% water; still, we know more than our minds can know when we walk or sit by a sparkling brook or a quiet lake. Seek out a place which has water.
It is not all setting, however. There is work to be done. We invite and open in very invitation we send to our people. We want everybody there who feels strongly enough about change we want to see and be in world to accept responsibility to act. So our invitation needs to touch sparkling places in these people. It needs to be specific as to change, yet open to widest possibilities. For instance, "The role of St. John Church in Future of Homelessness;" or "Improving Senior Healthcare in Manitowoc."
Inviting openness at meeting is where you need to turn your attention next. How do you draw on hopes and dreams of your people and still leave room for spirit in moment? Simple. Leave agenda open to be written at retreat. Sound scary? It usually is for organizers. For divinity it is best invitation.