Thursday, October 18, 2012

Reflection Retreat


  It's an exciting time for our Poetry Friday host, Irene Latham, at Live Your Poem.  Her new book, Don't Feed The Boy came out this past Tuesday!  Congratulations Irene!

    A week ago, my staff drove to the mountains to spent Thursday night and Friday together for our retreat.  This time we had a facilitator that came to lead us in examining our lives particularly in using time more wisely.  Most often, my colleagues have so much to do, and like many teachers and those in other lines of work, like writers, we make our lists too long and our expectations too high.  The first questions asked this day were: How do we order our lives against stress and fatigue? and What are we confessing by how we order our lives?  and How can we negotiate our lives so we can be fully mindful with those we care about? 
View from our family cabin!  There was a small forest fire in the area.  You can see the smoke in the photo.  


      Our day filled with personal responses to these questions along with poems of inspiration.  It was a special time of reflection and renewal.  We didn’t talk of time management, but of those things that helped us find our Kairos—defined by Merriam Webster as a time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action: the opportune and decisive moment.  In our case, the definition appeared to be the time when one might relax, or other words might be piddle, dilly-dally, meander, wander, or wonder.  Someone mentioned it could be in between time.  For further pondering, we were asked to write about a mentor that might show us how to find our own Kairos.  I wrote about my grandmother, who always found time for me and her other grandchildren.  I wondered how she did it, and still managed her housework, cooking for many, still playing with all of us?
      Here are two poems that were shared.  Each time we were asked to reflect upon the words, and by this time, we were all relaxed, taking our time to find personal answers for the future. 

         The first is Opening Without Words, by a poet and cancer survivor, Mark Nepo. 

 It begins:   It is the beginning of May
And over near the statue of Moses,
Raising his staff to something
None of us can see, hundreds of tulips
Have broken through the dark earth

         The second may be more familiar:  When Death Comes, by Mary Oliver

It begins:                                When death comes
Like the hungry bear in autumn;
When death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse;



          It was a full and loving day, filled with quiet reflection and talk with colleagues, a time we don’t usually find in our full days, sometimes only grabbing a snatch of conversation in a hallway.  I am grateful that our school gives us this day together.

26 comments:

  1. What an amazing day to get to spend with your colleagues! And I'm partial to the term "Kairos" - my sons' preschool was named that.

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    1. I just knew that someone would know about this and have a connection. What a wonderful name, Katherine!

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  2. I can't believe precious time - and money - was given to this activity! Unheard of! EVERY teacher in the world must be jealous! I can't imagine many districts doing anything remotely like this. But I'll bet it is well worth it in the short and long run. Teaching can drain a person pretty fast! How nice to have an opportunity to refresh, renew and rejuvenate!
    Though I've not heard of 'Kairos' before this, last week and this have afforded me some of these 'opportune and decisive moments'.

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    1. It's always a lovely day, Donna, & we do feel grateful we have the day. Thanks.

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  3. Glad you found the experience worthwhile and fulfilling. It *is* important to take the time to recharge the batteries, reflect, evaluate, and share concerns.

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    1. Thanks Jama. I loved that the facilitator used poetry throughout the day.

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  4. Lucky all of you to have had the chance to reflect and commune in this way, and among such natural beauty, to boot. "When Death Comes" is my personal credo - the last five lines guide me more than perhaps any other set of words. Thanks for sharing this, Linda!

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    1. The poetry, especially this one by Oliver is a favorite, Tara. I love those lines too, am glad to hear from you about them. It was a lovely time!

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  5. What great questions you were asked to think about, Linda! They are worth a ponder by anyone. It sounds like a fill-up-your-cup kind of day. Those of us who don't have professional days set aside for these things would do well to, once in a while, impose them on ourselves. Today I will be pondering the question: 'What am I confessing by how I order my life?'

    Violet N.

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    1. What a wonderful idea, Violet, to impose a 'retreat' upon ourselves, to piddle! I am reminded of the things you shared on your vacation, just wandering and enjoying the time. I loved hearing about it.

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  6. How great that you talked about time, using time, making time, through poetry rather than corporate "time-management" speak...

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    1. You are right to notice, Marjorie. It was delightful, & even more because we were wondering how we were going to approach the topic. Good reflection occurred all through the day.

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  7. Love the images in Opening Without Words. Such pure joy. I'm glad you had that time to relax. Wonderful gift!

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    1. Thanks, Andi. It was a wonderful time, & considering this past busy week, it was good to have it.

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  8. What an interesting question: "What are we confessing by how we order our lives?"

    Also, this is lovely:
    hundreds of tulips
    Have broken through the dark earth

    Glad you had this special day!

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    1. Thank you, Tabatha. We talked over that question, wondering about the possible meaning, & there were different interpretations. I think it means we are confessing a lie between what we say & what we do, yet there were dissenters. What do you think?

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    2. I thought it meant that we are confessing to what we REALLY think is important (i.e. If I spend all my time at work, what am I confessing about how I feel about my family?)

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  9. Thanks for sharing this, Linda. I also enjoyed reading the questions that your retreat group raised about how we live and order our lives. Sometimes we have to stop and ask these questions -- they can't be asked in the flurry of every day life.

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    1. Breaking bread together is possibly the most that can be asked every day, don't you think, Laura. The contemplation is harder & requires longer blocks of time, which is challenging to come by, the reason we were talking in the first place. It was an absolute conundrum!

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  10. Linda,
    What a blessing this post is. Thank you for sharing your retreat and providing a small retreat for us. I loved the questions. How do we find room in our busy lives for more?
    Thank you.

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    1. You are most welcome, Joy. It is a quest for many of us, isn't it? But the questions are good to keep in our hearts!

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  11. I am calmed simply by reading about this experience. Poetry, reflection, the view, slowing down to grow. Your school has such an amazing way of respecting its teachers--their profession and their health. This is all kinds of wonderful.

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    1. Thank you Christy, good to hear from you, since I've been sending my thoughts your way! It is a good part of our PD to take this time together.

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  12. Amazing. A staff retreat that focused on poetry, not on testing data...

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    1. It is usually similar to this in other years, but this time was wonderful because of all the poetry shared. Thanks, Mary Lee.

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  13. Hi Linda, it's been so long since I've been on a retreat, I don't even remember how it feels like anymore! Thanks for reminding me through this post. I love the entire notion of "kairos" as I am torn in different directions most of the time with all the events that I need to organize and finish and all of them deserve a huge amount of energy and focus. I also love that space "in between time." I am corresponding with a friend who is three hours and a half late from my timezone, and I wonder what happens to that space in between, makes me wax lyrical and poetic at the thought of it. The Mary Oliver poem is absolutely beautiful. Will find it. :)

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Having a conversation is a good thing!