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Impressions From the Field: the Sinsinawa Mound by Molly McGrail

March 26, 2014

Senior Molly McGrail attended the Mission to the Mound Retreat over Spring Break. While in Wisconsin she enjoyed learning about Dominican history, the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, and spending time in prayer and contemplation. Here Molly reflects on the adventure, reflection, and all the wonders that the Sinsinawa Mound brought her.

I was one of the chosen few asked to help with two horses on the farm at the Mound, having previously been hunted down by Sister Ruella and informed that I should finish breakfast by 7:45. Since breakfast was generally ready at 8AM, this meant I was in for cold cereal and, conversely, the challenge of drinking steaming coffee that even the most avid coffee drinker would have sympathized, given that I had about ten minutes. Thus, during the roughly three-day trip, which included two actual mornings at the Mound, I was fortunate enough to spend roughly one hour each morning outside knee-deep in snow looking out across the gently rolling hills of Wisconsin, feeding two horses more vegetables than I usually see in a week. I learned how to separate hay barrels and, using a curious combination of shovels, rakes and a broom, rescue fallen hay out from under the palettes and barrels so that they fresh hay wouldn’t rot due to the snow and rain. I also learned how to sweep (not shovel) snow in a field.

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Is this what my idea of Dominican living was before I went to the Mound with all of my fellow companions? Hardly. I wasn’t expecting a 21st-century version of The Sound of Music, either, but what ultimately surprised me the most was––and is––how active and engaged the Dominican Sisters are. In addition to tours by Sister Jeri and seeing Father Samuel’s impressive command of languages (and consequently, lamenting the lost art of good handwriting), group prayer and meditation are activities that I am happy to have participated in while at the Mound. However, just as important is taking what is gleaned from those silence-filled, reflective moments and utilizing them in our other, perhaps less overtly pious and more strenuous, day-to-day actions, be it feeding horses while becoming increasingly aware of the loss of circulation in your fingers, or a lovely conversation over Snickers bars and a Mardi Gras lunch with a Sister.

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