|Final Update from the Gathering - Jun-02-2012
Our correspondent today, our last to report from the Gathering, is Sr. Una Harman. She has chosen gratitude as her theme:
Our two liturgists and Fr. Hugh O'Donnell, outdid themselves in a beautiful all day Eucharistic celebration beginning around a blazing fire and a moving penitential rite where we connected with the brokenness of our world and the brokenness within.
After readings from our Constitutions there was the solemn signing by all the delegates of the Constitutions and Directives. Terry then declared the 8th Congregational Gathering closed, and handed over the signed documents to Mary Deane and her Team. It is indeed a day of Eucharist/Thanksgiving as we say our good-byes and prepare to leave.
It has been an amazing 4 weeks. For those of us at a Congregational Gathering for the first time, it was a wonderful experience of the Internationality of Presentation. Gratitude was one of the words which came up over and over in our reflections. On behalf of the Delegates I would now like to say a big THANK YOU to the many people who made our time here in this beautiful place such a pleasant one.
First we say thank you to the ONE in whose name we gathered – the God of Mystery, Love and Life, then to Nano whose life continues to inspire us.
Thank you to Terri, Mary H, Emer, Joan and Mary D, whose faithful leadership prepared the way, with all members, for this Gathering.
Thank you to Mary, Grace, Anne, Julie and Frances who have agreed to carry on the process over the next 6 years.
Dromantine Retreat and Conference centre is a 'little piece of heaven'. We have been truly blessed with the location of this Gathering and wish to thank our hosts, the SMA fathers for their warm hospitality and willingness to lead us in our Eucharistic celebrations, ever flexible and sensitive to our needs.
The staff under the caring eye of Sr. Mary made us feel at home as we enjoyed the luxury of sitting down to delicious meals without the worry of preparation or wash up. A wonderful luxury indeed! Thank you all and many of you will remain in our prayers as you sit for exams.
No words can really express our thanks to our two Marys and our two Kathleens. Mary Quinn and Mary Turley were on hand to cater to our every need as the little emergencies arose. From a 'needle to an anchor' if it was needed Mary Quinn found it. Mary Turley was our tour guide on our two very welcome outings. All we had to do was sit back and relax – all else was taken care of. When a party was announced all the necessities appeared as if by magic. Thank you Mary Q and Mary T.
Kathleen Quinlan and Kathleen Kennedy were ever alert to lead us in heartwarming liturgies – relevant to the themes we were reflecting on- in a very gentle way. The sound of the Stillness Gong at 7:40 in the morning set the tone for the day. Their choice of music, hymns, poems, prayers and movement lead us deeper into the mystery of life. By the final few days, even those of us with two left feet were keeping in step and losing ourselves in the rhythm of the music, only to find ourselves in the Oneness of all that is.
The Secretarial group worked untiringly for us, often into the night. A thousand thanks Mary Whyte, Teresa Kennedy, Nuala Horan, Claire Prendegast and Kathleen Mahony. Not just your work but your presence among us was much appreciated.
Thank you Sisters, Brothers and friends, for your many cards, and messages of support they were much appreciated.
There are many others whose gifts and presence added to the quality of our time together, Alba and Bernie who embodied the Dance of Life for us, Brenda our very experienced facilitator – but I had better stop now except to thank Noel, our IT companion and Friend of Nano, whose help has been invaluable. And, Lynette, for your commitment to making a photographic record of the Gathering from beginning to end. Thank you Noel and Lynette.
The following poem was used at one of our final liturgies it captures much of what stays with us from the Gathering as we make our way home.
Notice how you trust the next inhale is on its way.
We simply breathe each breath placed in front of us.
This is the only way into the future.
We can imagine, anticipate, worry, plan and fantasize but,
the only path is the one that we are walking breath by breath
each present moment.
Whether we are in the midst of fear, or ecstasy, the breath is there.
The heartbeat is there.
The unknown spark in us is there.
In the middle of it all, like the eye of a storm, a still point of awareness is there.
Silent, undisturbed, formless, nameless, content and realized.
May you catch glimpses of this nameless beauty that is your essence and reflect it back into the world.