Story of Hope: Portland, OR | Ignatian Spirituality Project

Story of Hope: Portland, OR

Jul 30 14

Story of Hope | Portland, OR

The role of a volunteer on an ISP retreat requires a delicate balance.  As a leader, the staff member must model effectively the substance of our ministry and inspire confidence among the participants that they too can lead, or perhaps be led by, this retreat.  At times it requires both steadfast reliance on our tested format and creative openness to each retreat’s uniqueness.


The “Healing of Memories” meditation is often a significant moment for the retreatants.  It is an opportunity to perhaps feel free of something for the first time in a long time.  And sometimes, people miss it.  “Benjamin” (pseudonym) arrived at the chapel late.  As people were filing out and the team was preparing for a check-in, he was exasperated.  “I’m so sorry,” he began.  “I just started these new meds and they are messing with me.”  Benjamin moved further into the chapel and plopped down on a chair in front of the altar.   He may have been late, but he was here now and didn’t look in a hurry to leave.


We were then faced with a decision:  ask Benjamin to leave so we could begin the team meeting, or use this time as a space to let him share.  Looking around the room, we let him continue.  Benjamin went on to tell us what became a spontaneous faith and salvation history.  Most profoundly, sitting there in the humble chapel, he looked around and said, “I feel really at home here.  I’ve never really felt comfortable around God before.”   Benjamin may have missed the formal mediation, but sitting in the chapel at that moment with the whole team assembled, he was able to share something and we all received something in return.    The team, in that moment, needed to listen, and it made a difference.


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