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A Refreshing SLAM Retreat

September 15, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Toward the end of last week I thought I’d had it.  Homework was piling up, I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and scared that if this was just the beginning, what was the rest of the school year going to be like?  I just wanted a break and a chance to stop worrying about the responsibilities of school and work.  Who knew it would be so important to refresh my spirit so early in the school year?  Luckily for me I had the opportunity to do so on the SLAM retreat, a two-day trip to Racine, Wisconsin with 23 other members of the Student Leadership and Ministry group (SLAM) and our three wonderful ministers Shannon, Ann, and Matt.

The retreat took place at the motherhouse of the Racine Dominican Sisters which is located on the shore of Lake Michigan.  Imagine a prairie preserve, humming with bees and butterflies set above a sandy shore scattered with smooth rocks and large piers made of boulders.  Imagine smiling Sisters and halls full of colorful artwork, then picture twenty four college students in need of time to rest and connect soaking up this glorious environment.

There is nothing as refreshing as watching the sunrise over Lake Michigan.  I learned this on Sunday morning when a few friends and I bundled up and ventured out to a boulder pier at 6:00am.  The air was mildly biting and the sand was cold, but we were warmed by fuzzy sweatshirts and the anticipation of witnessing a Lake Michigan sunrise.  My friends and I climbed the boulders and sat at the edges, each in the most comfortable position to be found (I was sprawled against a rock, my legs dangling toward the splashing water…and then I readjusted…about five times).

As the sun began to rise on Sunday, September 11 all I could think of was how mysterious this world is.  How wonderful to be surrounded by the beautiful individuals on the boulders around me, watching a work of God that is shared by the whole world every day.  How odd that I am 20 years old on this date, no longer a teenager but not feeling fully grown up, and how reverently sad that it has been ten years since the 9/11 attacks on our country and we are still hurting, still healing, and still trying to forgive.

While the dazzling sun raised these feelings in my heart I could also feel it warm my face and settle the hairs of my goosebumped arms.  At the same time, I felt my mind rest.  I felt relieved of duty, stress, and pressure.  I felt relaxed.  I thanked God for his great love and the opportunity to witness his glory in the sunrise.

What a gift this retreat was.  Thanks to the time spent in prayer, companionship, exploration, contemplation, and relaxation I was refreshed and ready for the school year.  Surely as the busy year progresses I will need to refresh my mind, body, and soul again, but to do so may be as easy as watching the sunrise.

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