Formation for shepherding to day kenya - 2nd Week
The second week of the formator’s programme, Kenya
What is emerging in religious life today?
This week we began to reflect on the reality of emerging religious life and formation. We continued to use the co-learning model, as developed in our sessions last week. A number of questions facilitated the process; what in religious life is unfolding or emerging today? In what way is the spirit stirring within you at this moment? What is asking for change for growth within you? We broke into unit groups to discuss and present the findings creatively. One of the memorable moments was when one group presented a hierarchal model of religious life through role play, using sculpting. As a large group we were able to explore in some depth the varying roles and reactions taken up by each of the members.
We were invited to be concrete, measurable and realistic in our discussions and feedback as we explored the area of accompaniment in formation beginning with candidacy, pre-noviciate, noviciate, temporary profession and in on-going formation. It is hoped that our findings will inform a new Congregational formation manual. One particular morning prayer brought our attention to this call for renewal by using the metaphor of the eagle. The eagle lives for 70 years, but when it is 40 years old it has to make a courageous decision to either renew or die. The process takes 150 days and involves radical decisions and actions, including breaking its own beak, removing its claws and eventually plucking out all its old heavy plumage. This growth process facilitates the development of a new beak, claws and feathers thus that giving the eagle a new lease of life for 30 more years. This helped us to reflect on our own reality and the challenge of renewal of outdated structures.
We were joined this week by Bro. Donal Kirk, CB, our facilitator for the module on Integrating Sexuality (Life Energy) in religious life. He has worked for more than 30 years in Zambia and has vast experience in formation and leadership. He has facilitated similar conferences with other congregations. Donal introduced the topic by situating sexuality in the context of God’s creational energy. He presented a challenging overview of the creation of the cosmos dating back 14 billion years. In order to make this more apparent he invited us to imagine God’s creative act as taking 365 days. Human beings appeared in the last five seconds of the 365th day. This scientific explanation was coupled with scriptural and liturgical quotations, ‘light from light, God from God, begotten not made, one with the Father’. In addition, Donal offered a broad range of quotes from a number of authors interested in the area of sexuality to help expand our understanding. A particularly challenging quote, suggested that ‘we were spiritual beings in the process of becoming fully human’ (Smith). As the session unfolded we were becoming more aware of sexuality as energy for life, a force that seeks connectedness.
The session gave us the opportunity to discuss openly many issues that we do not easily talk about in community. The final day was an opportunity for us to ritualise our own personal experiences of the session and our lived experiences of our sexuality. It was an enriching and moving encounter with one another at a very profound level. It was a moment that will ponder in our hearts as we continue our hearts journey.