Listening, Questioning, Living Authentically

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
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Who am I? How can I live authentically? And how can renewal, attentiveness, and connection be part of my daily life? These questions from students shaped our annual Open Circle and CVA winter retreat this January. Beginning with a centering exercise, we invited participants to notice what they are leav-ing behind for the weekend and what they hope to receive from the experience, including an opportunity to set aside any technological devices. Cellphones and ipods quickly filled the bowl in the middle of the room as we asked students to choose how to use them during the weekend and gave the option of placing them in this container. Throughout the weekend, interwoven with spiritual practices and times for personal reflection, each participant had the opportunity to share their spiritual journey story while we each opened ourselves to listening, paused for silence, and then offered back questions for the individual to later reflect on. Our listening space sparkled with the sacred as young people voiced profound questions related to each person’s story, such as:

  • How have the challenges you’ve faced helped you to grow and develop as a person?
  • In your desire to make a difference in the world, is your motivation to help a few or to instill big systemic changes?
  • How has your faith in God influenced you to have faith in yourself or to take risks?
  • What would the balance you hope for, between your ego and your deeper self, look like?

In this letter, you’ll hear from a couple of retreat participants—Bryan, who shares about what helping to plan the retreat meant to him, and Sheree, who reflects on the unexpected surprises of volunteering. In addition, Kathryn describes how serving children at the Breakfast Program inspired her to start a very practical project to make a difference in their lives. We would like to echo the gratitude these McMaster students express for all that you are making possible through your support of Student Open Circles!

- Marybeth and Jeff