On October 22, LEFSA held a fall retreat for 22 women and 22 men. The group met at LEFSA’s office and departed on a bus at 10 AM for Mariandale Retreat Center. We got to the site just in time for lunch! After lunch and orientation, people had time to find their rooms and settle in. It was a time to rest before the evening program, and enjoy nature walks and fellowship with friends, old and new. After dinner, we met for a session titled “Purpose and Prayer,” facilitated by team members Deborah Cant, Deborah Byrd, and Eve Barber. People in the group shared that each person is made with a purpose and that God makes no mistakes.
On Tuesday morning after breakfast, we started with a session led by Georgia James and Pamela Cotto around the theme of Acceptance. People shared what acceptance means for them, and some of that sharing revolved around attitudes, respect, serenity prayer, and loving people for who they are. We also read about six ways to accept others as they are: watch your thoughts; look for the positive; avoid right/wrong dichotomies; stop judging yourself; focus on the now; reverse the situation. People also shared about why acceptance is important: to grow; for peace of mind; because it helps us to get along with each other; it gives balance; it allows us to embrace the situation, and it makes the world a better place. We also talked about accepting ourselves and accepting the reality of the world, in which we have to face difficult situations.
In the afternoon, Sr. Betty offered to lead some of us on a nature walk and guide us through a labyrinth walk. Some people also worked on some projects in the creativity room, making thank you cards for the Sisters and the staff of the Retreat Center. Others enjoyed the fellowship and private time for meditation and prayer.
After dinner, we had a session facilitated by James Butler and James Addison about “The benefits of living an uncomfortable life.” People in the group reflected on the times in their lives when they were faced with uncomfortable situations, how they handled them and how those situations impacted them. We also talked about some of the uncomfortable things we need to do in order to live our best lives: forgive yourself, let go of the past, say goodbye, apologize, own up to your mistakes, take a risk, believe in yourself when no one else does, don’t take “no” for an answer.
Forty-four people attended the retreat. Many are still living without permanent housing, so the retreat gives an opportunity for people to enjoy privacy, comfort and three full meals a day. The work of LEFSA centers around building relationships and community, and through time spent together and sharing during groups we all grew a little closer together and got to know each other’s struggles.