Thursday, February 02, 2017

A Look Back At Retreat

The following is a reflection prepared by Jackie Ascenzi, a Volunteer living in the Little Village Community. Jackie serves at Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly this year. She shares her experience of embracing time with community on the winter retreat which took place mid-January.

On my birthday last month, I lost my wallet which held my driver’s license, debit card, money, and a beloved Target gift card I had not used yet. To say the least, 2017 got off to a rough start. Just when I thought I had figured out a solution to get a new driver’s license, there was hoop after hoop I had to jump through. I can’t drive for my job without a driver’s license, I had to fly back to California in order to get a new one after just returning from California a few days prior, how was I supposed to get on a plane without an ID, etc. Losing my wallet became so stressful and time-consuming the only thing I was looking forward to was winter retreat. I was just ready to get away from work and get away from my problems. I flew to California January 16, came back January 18 with a lovely temporary ID, packed my bags for retreat January 19, and was ready to take off.  

I have always loved retreats. I love being crammed in a room with 5-6 people, waking up and being able to wear pajamas all day, everyone collectively being off their phones, and just constantly surrounding yourself with nature the whole time. Highlights of this retreat included playing in the game room for about 2 hours straight and a few of my housemates and I filmed a mockumentary of “The Blair Witch Project” all on snapchat. I always say that I wish South House and the Little Village House were closer because there is really never much time to bond with the other house. That is why on retreats I enjoy the company of the other house and being surrounded by them for 3 days straight. Out of all the Amate House tenets, community is my favorite one. Community is something everyone has the ability to be involved in regardless of religion, beliefs, background, etc. Community is a thing you really cannot avoid. Living with 8 other people, there are times where you physically will always see at least 1 other person and I love that. With community comes intentionality. It is one thing to just live with 8 other people, but it is another to be intentional about how and when to spend time with them.

At Amate House, there is a heavy importance put on eating meals together, having spirituality nights, and engaging in community nights every week. Although not all are mandatory, there is a genuine desire to be present for them. At times, it feels forced or there are days when I don’t want to be involved, but once I am there, I am glad. My community is what brings this sense of gladness. If it was not for them, it would be hard to be intentional. After I lost my wallet, some of my housemates went outside in the 7 degree weather at night to help me look for it. In that moment, I knew how important and supportive my community was to me. Winter retreat was such a perfect break to all the madness that the days prior had given me. I am thankful for not only my Little Village community, but the overall Amate House community as well.