Amidst the cooling days of fall, Tarcia Gerwing from Guelph came to lead a group of the faithful in a prayer-filled three days of reflection and quiet meditation on the contemplative rules of Saints Benedict and Francis.
Reflections were interlaced with Gregorian chant and the gentle music of female mystics, whose words were put to reflective melodies. Tarcia’s quiet, modulated tones and the summoning of her “singing monk’s bowl” calmed everyone. Her gentle method of teaching was interspersed with many personal memories of her parents’ and siblings’ down-to-earth spirituality. Laughter and spontaneous prayer songs lent to a tranquil experience. At times, there were breakthrough “ahh” moments for some of the participants.
Silence was observed for most of the two days among most of the participants, allowing for some to talk at meal times and during the
teaching and sharing sessions. The retreatants were also encouraged to go outside and take walks amid nature, in solitude and silence. Mass was celebrated each day in the larger Chapel, and included traditional Native smudging and the use of a hand drum to accompany songs.
Tarcia’s initial talk encouraged us to focus on Creation this weekend, and to try to really “listen” and “hear God” all around us, “to see God’s hand in all things”.
The food prepared was, as always, delicious and very tasty, kudos to the cooks. The Centre staff also were attentive to the needs of the participants and provided a warm and relaxed environment.
After the final Mass, on behalf of the retreatants, small tokens of appreciation were given to Tarcia, Gary & Linda (who had accompanied Tarcia from Guelph), the cooks, and the Centre staff. They included gifts of sacred sage, sweetgrass, and tobacco for their journey and to say Migwetch for sharing their blessings with us. The retreat ended with prayer, song, and sharing warm hugs and final farewells. Father David also assured us that Tarcia would return some time again, perhaps in the Spring, to lead another session.
Story submitted by Dianne Musgrove, Ministries Programme participant