I have a certificate and everything!
I graduated early in May. I traveled to Cincinnati by myself on a Friday afternoon. It poured absolute buckets of rain the whole way! When I arrived at the retreat center on the convent grounds, it was still raining but, despite the downpour, the gardens were absolutely stunning. I was not willing to get out my nice camera but I snapped these shots using my phone from under a large, black umbrella I found in the stand by the door. (I NEVER have an umbrella. I am sure that says something about me.)
After dinner, my friend Margaret and I took a walk around the grounds. We didn't mind that it was still misting rain. We had a lovely chat with one of the sisters who was taking the convent pooch for a walk. As we made our way around the grounds, I felt very drawn to this gate. I do not know why but I really wanted to take a photo of it. I don't think it was locked. Maybe I should have tried to open it....
Later, after everyone had arrived, we gathered in a circle and spent time together, quietly and reflectively, in this beautiful space.
All the things in the middle of the circle have special meaning. I found the circle of light even more beautiful and inspiring than usual. It was quite emotional.
The next day, after spending some time in gratitude for one another, we changed our clothes and got ready to greet our families and friends and then...it was time to graduate!
Michael and the children drove up from Lexington and my sister and niece came too. It was nice to have family there. My spiritual director was also there which was a lovely surprise.
During the ceremony, we were asked to rise and our family and friends layed hands on us. I can't even begin to tell you how special that was.
Each one of us received a blessing. This my mentor, Steve, blessing me. It was one of the first times in my life that I have been in "the center of attention" and didn't mind at all...in the past, nervousness and anxiety have spoiled special moments but not this time!
We were also given a white "khata." A khata is a ceremonial Tibetan scarf symbolizing purity and compassion. The khatas we were given bears the image of a lotus blossom. I especially loved this because of the symbolism of the lotus flower. ReligionFacts website states:
"The roots of a lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the heavily scented flower lies pristinely above the water, basking in the sunlight. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment.
Though there are other water plants that bloom above the water, it is only the lotus which, owing to the strength of its stem, regularly rises eight to twelve inches above the surface."
Michael took this photo of me in my khata shortly after the ceremony.
And my sister took this photo of my family.
So, my training and internship period have come to end. I know that the work I have been doing for the past three years, both internal and while sitting with others...one on one and in small groups...has prepared me to go forward confidently with this work.
Recently, I was a co-leader of a beautiful, contemplative Service of Healing. It was very powerful. The day before, I led a group of 12 women in a Contemplative NeedleArts Retreat. I loved the experience and I am getting very positive feedback from those who attended. Last month, I led a Personal Mandala Meditation for a group of women who serve others in the Stephen Ministry program. And the month before that, I worked with a group of social workers and therapists from the Kentucky Center on Trauma and Children, based on Jon Kabat Zinn's work in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. I have even put together a brochure about myself and spiritual direction. The one thing I had failed to do was announce it here.
my spiritual direction and retreat leadership practice is officially:
And to all of you, I am going officially on record to say that I am available for individual and group direction work. If you want to know more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are part of a group that would like a contemplative experience, send me a note. My emerging specialty is providing creative, contemplative experiences.
I am qualified, prepared and eager to do this work! God willing, I hope to be doing this work for a very long time to come.
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