A socially-distanced retreat outdoors
The Faber Community organised a socially-distanced retreat called Dúlra (Irish for ‘nature’) in Dublin and France on Sunday, 21 February 2021. The community is a collective of young people who have come together with the help of the Irish Jesuits.
All members of the Faber Community have their own varied lives, but they gather several times a week through different activities and projects such as outdoor retreats, a book club and shared online reflection. They are supported by a group of young men called the Faber Companions who live together in Dublin in a Jesuit house in Rathmines.
This outdoor retreat during the First Sunday of Lent took place under lockdown restrictions. Since it was not possible for all the young people who took part to meet in person, they connected via Zoom calls at different points during the day. You can read in ‘Reflection and Recollection’ below Callum Douglas’ report on the experience.
The Faber Community have also created a new website that highlights a variety of projects currently taking place online. These include a book club, Sunday liturgy, guided personal prayer, and volunteer opportunities. People are invited to subscribe to the community’s emails and join the Zoom sessions. According to Callum Douglas of the Faber Companions, “The Faber Community website has a dual purpose. We want it to be a platform that showcases the community’s activities, informing newcomers about what’s going on here and why they might like to participate in community themselves.”
He also says the website will serve as a hub for existing Faber Community members, adding, “It’s an online space where they can share stories, ideas, and the various outpourings of their wonderful creativity.”
Reflection and Reconnection
After breakfast, we hopped on a Zoom call to chat about where we’d all be spending the day. During Covid, Dúlra (Irish for ‘nature’) runs as a self-led retreat in natural environments punctuated with calls for discussion and reconnection.
María was heading to Meadowbrook. Aoife-Marie, out near Bray, had dozens of options. Claudia planned to walk right out to Poolbeg Lighthouse. The group of six boys from Leinster Road were cycling to Marlay Park. Jess joined the call while walking down the streets of Lille in France trying to find a park that wasn’t shut.
We read our introductory theme, which centred on metanoia, the Greek word usually translated ‘repent’ or ‘convert’, but which really emphasises a ‘full transformation of life and heart’, making it a perfect focus for the first Sunday of Lent.
Then it was off the phones and away into the sunshine. Everyone in Dublin (and Lille) was out as well, taking advantage of the first real spring weekend. In Marlay the boys dodged the crowds by the car park and found a quiet spot among trees, where a stream flowed and birds sang eagerly that the day was beautiful.
Another Zoom call and Claudia showed the group the houseplants she’d spent the morning caring for, before she and María shared their enthusiasm for the first reflection, which they’d already spent some time discussing in their native Spanish. The first reflection comprised of a poem by Mary Oliver, a paragraph from Laudato Si’, and a few reflective prompts. We each found different ways to reflect on it, some walking along a stream or on the beach, some sitting with their backs to the trees.
We all remarked on how easy it was to dip below the surface of ourselves, to connect with something bigger, now that we were physically outdoors and in contact with something quite meaningful and bigger.
Jess found a lake with a gorgeous stretch of sand. Aoife-Marie met up with Naomi on Killiney beach and took a stunning series of photographs. The boys felt the joy of being together even in a small group when they found room to play soccer in the sun.
Two more reflections, with Sunday’s scripture readings and more from Laudato Si’, plus another Zoom call, rounded out the afternoon.
Once we’d made our various sunset journeys home, and eaten our various dinners, we ended the day together with a larger gathering of community at Tabernacle (our weekly collaborative liturgy, also held on Zoom).
It was a long, magnificent day blessed by good weather and better company, and each of us in our own way felt refreshed and reconnected with the deep Love at the heart of all things.