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Retreat is over...

Hey, hey, I'm back. I've been away in the country for three days at Cross Creek, looking out across paddocks to Lake Wairarapa, or up at the dense bush of the Rimutaka hills. Our base was at the foot of the hills, where one walks the Rimutaka Incline from Featherston (an old railway route that was no longer needed once the hill tunnel was built - the initial incline was so steep that they used a Fell Engine, an engine that could kind of walk up hills using a grasping foot thingy along a stepped track - I've been to the museum years ago. You can see Cross Creek on the map at this site http://wairarapa.co.nz/times-age/weekly/2002/rimutaka.html)  The morning light is just magical, and the silence is magnificent.

We were here at the Magnificat Community Retreat place http://www.magnificat.org.nz/venues.php but staying in Bethlehem (scroll down). It's better now than it was when this pic was taken, the site is halfway ready. We had to feed fifty teenaged girls with no cooking facilities in the place (the kitchen isn't finished) so there was a dishwasher, oven, gas rings, lights, all in the kitchen, but none of them worked LOL! We brought precooked food and heated it up in the retreat house next door (which thankfully was not in use). Still only one pathetic oven there though, to heat lasagne or pizza for fifty. And one 4-slice toaster in the mornings for making toast for 50 girls!

However, those things aside, I had a wonderful time. The girls started out pretty self-centred but, by the end of it all, were a lot more committed as a solid group of leaders of the college. There were very few tensions, quite a few tears, a lot of laughs and not much sleep, especially the first night! I found one working power-point in the centre of the complex, as the bedrooms went down in an L shape in two directions, and so I woke everyone who wasn't up at quarter to seven with loud holy rock music, since they had to be at prayers at 7:15. The next day, at seven, the place was silent. Everyone was exhausted this time! But I put on a loud song again and heads popped out at once, with desperate pleas to have a quick shower! 

The girls learned about leadership, about personality types, about seeing themselves as gifts, they did co-operative games that they had to lead for one another, they did a rescue activity in teams, they learned about labyrinths and meditative prayer in motion (that was mine) and they had a session on how to get to be dux, and even information on scholarships!  They had to eat together, help with the dishes and look after one another.  We had three liturgies as well, feedback sessions and evaluations. There was a section led by the head and deputy head girls as well.  It was a very busy three days.

I slept in a room by myself in the centre of the complex, with the other three teachers and the one aide at either end of the place, so we had it covered in terms of adult supervision. My door didn't close as there was a huge temporary power lead running out of the door and down to the dining room but I didn't really care.  It was really hot there but the bugs are so prevalent, I didn't want to leave the windows open, chicken that I am!

Anyway, it was a moving and valuable experience, and I'm glad I was asked to go. The family managed to survive without me. Steve said, somewhat mystified,  that all he did was drive people places and pay for things.  I said, 'welcome to my world'. 

And Monday, Finn goes away for five days to the Marlborough Sounds, to a camp with his school.  He has a backpack that's almost heavier than him!
And photos? I'll download the whole 200-odd pics that everyone took on my camera later this weekend, and then I can share some visuals with you. For now, I just wanted to say HI!!!


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 23rd, 2008 09:30 am (UTC)
It sounds like a good experience! What is/are dux?
The place looks lovely.
We went on one of those climbing trains when we went to the Monastery of Montserrat near Barcelona.
Hope Finn has a lovely time!
I've just packed Colin off to Portugal with a friend, and I'm packing to spend a few days in Leicester (and off line). Looking forward to your photos when I get back.
Feb. 23rd, 2008 10:07 am (UTC)
Dux is first in the college, academically. It's all worked out on assignment results and mock exams to come up with a numerical result. It's a big honour to be Dux, or even second, Proxime Accessit.

I hope Colin has a great time. And that you have a great time in Leicester. See you when you get back.
Feb. 23rd, 2008 10:51 am (UTC)
I like the names they use...Magnificat Community Retreat,and Bethlehem,all very fitting !
Feb. 24th, 2008 06:00 am (UTC)
And they have three cows named Faith, Hope and Charity! All the farm animals have Biblical names!
Feb. 23rd, 2008 12:17 pm (UTC)
I am looking forward to seeing the pics :0) Welcome back.
Feb. 24th, 2008 06:02 am (UTC)
thanks! It's good to be back, although the peace, the silence, the 'ruralness' was lovely. One of the girls said she wished she could have the backyard of her house like the farm, with the peace and the lake and the paddocks, and the front of her house in the city!!

I have enjoyed your poems lately. One day maybe you'll put a book together? When you stop studying? That'd be nice *g*

Feb. 24th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks :0) I would like to put a book together with some pictures to accompany the poems.
Feb. 25th, 2008 09:16 am (UTC)
-put a book together with some pictures to accompany the poems.
That'd be good. Pictures enhance poems no end, especially if there is that contemplative aspect. I shall look forward to that one day!
Feb. 24th, 2008 12:02 am (UTC)
Glad to hear you had a valuable and enjoyable time - looking forward to the photos!!
I wish I could go to the Marlborough Sounds on Monday!!
Feb. 24th, 2008 06:04 am (UTC)
-I wish I could go to the Marlborough Sounds on Monday!!
Yeah, I'd rather like to be going as well. I'm sure it will be a wonderful experience. The bay is just opposite Picton, they go by water taxi, I believe. It's here

I hope things are getting a little bit warmer over there. It's still hot and muggy here.
Feb. 25th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
Welcome back. Sounds like it was a fruitful experience for everyone. Bet you glad to get back to your own bathroom and bed, Huh? I always am.

Finn should have a fantastic time in Malborough Sounds. Hope it all goes well for him. Five days is quite a long time but it will whiz by if he is enjoying it so hopefully he is!
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:22 am (UTC)
Thanks! It sure was a good experience. In fact, I could've stayed for a month, no trouble, as long as I got some writing time. We had such a busy schedule, I didn't get a chance to really go for a walk and do some contemplating of my own out in the bush.

And you're right, Finn should be happy. Looks like great weather at the moment.

*smiles at Suil*
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )



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