Associates’ Retreat

The Guild Retreat is an annual event for all Guild Associates and Board Members. It is held at the beautiful Alcyon Center. This year, the Guild is changing the Associates’ Retreat to the Friends’ and Associates’ Retreat. The 2021 date is to be determined.

Here is what Associate Heather Spring wrote about the 2018 retreat: 

“We light a candle, gently strike a chime, and sink into a deep silence together. So begins the gathering of the annual retreat of Associates of the Northeast Guild for Spiritual Formation. We have come from all over Maine and some parts of New Hampshire to reconnect and to reflect on this year’s theme, “Exploring Truth, Living Truth.” A quote from Rumi sets the stage:

“The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.”

Because we all live in a world that can seem at times quite broken, and because we all have vocations as spiritual care providers in one form or another, I suspect that many of us come to this gathering in need of some rest and feeling at least a little like those broken pieces of mirror. We have surely come out of an ongoing national dialogue concerning the actual veracity of truth in this day and age.

And so, in the first session of our retreat, we begin to glimpse the wisdom of the retreat planning committee as they invite us to introduce ourselves by stating three ”facts” about ourselves that no one else in the room knows. The catch is that two of these facts will be, in fact, true while one will be a falsehood.

It is now up to the rest of us to discern, guess, which statements are true and which are not. Before long, we are in laughter and disbelief as many of the facts turn out to be more outrageous than the fiction and as we all develop an expanded appreciation of the depth and complexity of the histories of our companions.

Later, after an afternoon of personal retreat time and the sharing that takes place over a couple of deliciously-prepared meals, we again gather. This time we each are invited to share the story behind a sacred object that we have brought to the gathering. Around the circle, we go. Again, we expand into another layer of connection as each person describes those deep places of the heart reflected in the tangible articles that they display.

And so it goes throughout the weekend: healthy homemade food, enriching conversation, quiet time for our own personal reflections, activities that encourage us to seek and share our truth through Lectio and Visio Divina, and a creative art project that produces beautiful triptychs that are as unique as the individuals present.

We also make time to speak of our communal history as a Guild and our hopes and dreams for this organization going forward. We recommit to our roles as Guild Associates, but not before the blustery storm surrounding our cozy abode at the Alcyon Center plunges us into sudden darkness as the electricity goes out.

Almost without missing a beat, we all take out flashlights and cell phones. By the small, individual lights now punctuating the darkness, we read our commitment statements before retiring into the Great Silence for the rest of the evening. Perhaps this is a fitting metaphor for where we now find ourselves as a Guild and as a society.

In times when the old ways seem in question, we may feel that we are moving around in the dark. And yet, in some way that seems mysterious to us, we each are letting our own individual lights shine and yearning to join those lights with others who also sense a more hopeful future.

It is our hope that those of you who are associates and Friends of the Guild will show us ever more of your light through sharing your own sacred stories in the Guild Newsletter or Facebook page, through suggesting programs or gatherings that you would find particularly enriching, or perhaps through forming your own contemplative circle in New England and affiliating with the Guild.

According to Wikipedia, the term “Koinonia (/ˌkɔɪnoʊˈniːə/) is a transliterated form of the Greek word,κοινωνία, which means communion, joint participation, the share which one has in anything, participation, a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, etc.”

We, as Guild Associates, invite more Koinonia as we know “how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”