From Tuesday of last week until this morning I was in lovely East Aurora, New York at the annual Confraternity of Penitents Retreat and Conference, held at Christ the King Seminary. The retreat was great, and full of many graces and blessings, but I'd forgotten (if I ever realized) that the dorms are brick-veneered cast concrete, which means that in order to get a signal on my phone I had to either go outside or sit in my windowsill. So therefore no posts while I was gone; it was just too much trouble. It was all I could do to keep up with my email inbox and check in to Twitter occasionally!
Our retreat masters were Fr. Pio Mandato, an eremitical Capuchin Franciscan priest, and Sr. Veronica of the Capuchin Sisters of Nazareth. Fr. Pio is related in some way to St. Pio of Pietrelcina (sp?), and at the end of his final conference we were privileged to be able to venerate a glove of St. Pio's which Father used to impart a healing blessing on each of us. Sr. Veronica is the daughter of our Minister General, and is a really lovely person.
I simply must figure out some way, short of not attending, to not be so adversely affected by the heat and humidity at the retreat. One year it was so chilly and rainy that we had to call Housekeeping to get us some wool blankets, but normally it is in the upper 80s with heat indices in the 90s. Thursday's readings for this year were a high of 94, with a heat index of 103.
It's very difficult to figure out how to dress for both comfort and decency in weather like that! (Sr. Veronica says that they say in the convent "hell is hotter" which helps a little). Normally, when the thermometer reads above 80 at home, I'm in either an above-the-knee skirt or shorts, and a tank top. With flip-flops. Not exactly appropriate attire for a chapel. (And the chapel is NOT air-conditioned, YIKES!) So I took a linen shift that I used as my "I can't stand it any more" outfit, and the rest of the time tried to go about looking all serene when really I wanted to go jump in the pond on the seminary grounds.
One thing that DID go well was my presentation! I partnered with another CFP sister and we did a presentation on fashion and clothing as it pertains to Confraternity members (part of the Rule of Life we follow includes the wearing of certain colors of clothing). She covered the "theology" of clothing and fashion, and my portion of the conference was about choices, fit and how to choose good things from places like thrift stores - I'd much rather spend $4 on a blouse I can wear for 5 years or more than the same amount on a blouse that will be in rags after a couple of seasons!
Another thing that didn't work out so well was that my mom stayed with the kids, but it was just as unbearable here and they ended up in a hotel because my house has no air-conditioning. I should have laid the groundwork with a few air-conditioned friends, but truthfully I (a) didn't think it would be as bad as it was, and (b) I mistakenly thought that perhaps one of my friends would either try to reach me about my mom and kids being stuck in a non-air-conditioned house during what amounted to a heat emergency, or at least go by my house to see how things were - I always think that everyone else will do what I would do in a certain situation, lol.
So anyway, Fr. Pio told us that a person ought to take away at least one concrete thing from a retreat to work on, or change, and I have to admit that it was really HARD this time to think of my "project"! In fact I'm still deciding. But I did get a chance to talk to him about a problem I've been having and got some advice on how to try to deal with it - it will be very difficult to carry out what he suggested but I will give it a try. It involves really being quite vulnerable to a few people and it could turn out really well, and it could end up a huge mess. We'll just have to see, won't we?
I've got some pictures of the grounds but I haven't uploaded them to the computer yet. It's really a lovely place. But I've missed you all, and am glad to be back and posting again!