For the second time we joined the Chicago community (post-novices) in a day of recollection that's done away from our friaries. The purpose of these days is to take time to really look back on our lives and prepare for the current season. It's also an opportunity for the two communities, both dealing with men in Capuchin formation, to get together and have a good time.
The day is spent mostly in personal reflection, with a speaker who gives us things for us to think about during this time. Some choose to walk outdoors, some read scripture or a book on spirituality. I actually spent most of the time in my room...sitting in the chair and staring at the wall as I was completely lost in contemplation.
We were blessed to have Shelly Roder, director of our Cap Corps program, give the talk in the morning. Shelly has completed a number of accomplishments in her lifetime. She served as the director of the Gubbio Project in San Francisco in the tenderloin district and the St. Boniface homeless shelter. On top of all that, she is a great friend to many of us in the order. She was such a fixture of the community that the Chronicle did an article about her departure.
It was parts of her life that Shelly used for our day of recollection. "Stories" was the theme as she described the power, conviction, and reflection that is contained in each of our life stories. By looking at our lives we understand why we are where we are today. We remind ourselves of what is important when things get confusing. But most of all, our stories are how we show the power of God in our lives.
Shelly used two stories from her life. One was from her time in the Dominican Republic where she served as a volunteer during college. She described the time in a way only a skilled storyteller could. She also talked about her time in San Francisco, about how her family reacted to her changing life, and how she uses those times in her life to help her "stay on track."
It was a wonderful time listening to her speak (even though she and her daughter were over for dinner the day before) and it gave us plenty to think about as we separated for our recollection. Mostly I thought about my life and the things I've written here in my corner of the internet, excerpts from a life trying to figure out exactly what I've been called to do.
There are times when I think I'm writing my memoirs early, so I don't have to do all this when I'm old. Or I think that someone maybe will see what I write and be inspired to live a life or experience a change in who they are because of something inspiring or marvelous I've written.
But the reality of why I do this is that it is therapy for me. It is a way that I can journal all of my feelings, emotions, actions, and questions about who I've become. I do this so at times, I can go back and look at who I was, what I used to think, and how that's changed. I can see the process of conversion.
One last thing that Shelly said really rang true with me. She said that telling our stories is scary. It's scary because what happens if you tell your story, the story that has brought all of the world into perspective for you, and no one cares? What if someone tells you you're wrong?
So the question to you, Dear Readers, is this: what is your story? What part of your life has been important in your formation? More importantly, would you be willing to tell that story?
Shelly Roder is the director of Cap Corps Mid-West, a post-graduate program for those wanting to participate in full-time volunteer work, either in the U.S. or internationally. For more info on Shelly or the Cap Corps program, go to www.capcorps.org.