by Carol Jachim
Pax Christi Michigan State Council member
As Pax Christi people we stand for peace and nonviolence. Simplistically, against war and weapons. Yet, there are different levels of violence, besides the use and manufacture of guns and other weapons to denounce, that perhaps one hasn’t thought about. Pollution is one form of violence and the damage it does to our earth’s waters – lakes, oceans, streams, rivers, etc., besides the water used for drinking, bathing and recreation.
The 19th Annual PCM Retreat focused on refreshing oneself … and that we did with the presence of wonderful people who truly care about each other, about promoting peace and nonviolence, and demonstrating a commitment to nonviolent ways in our lives.
Sr. Sue Schreiber, an Adrian Dominican sister and life-long supporter and member of PCM, this year’s wonderfully inspiring PCM retreat director, encouraged awareness of water and its key to life and the environment. With her calm and soothing manner, voice, expertise, talents, skills and knowledge, attendees listened as she asked participants to examine how water affects their daily lives. Participants sat in a circle at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center on Higgins Lake in Roscommon.
“Water is a sacred source of life,” Sue says. “We’re on a journey to refresh ourselves.”
And so … with Sr. Sue’s excellent presentation, using music, video, and words, she helped all present to continue to understand the meaning of personal commitment to peace. “Bad water is the number one killer in the world. We must save not only the Great Lakes, but our earth from nuclear waste … there is a movement to preserve our water,” she says. “Be conscious of the water you use.”
The 23 retreat participants examined the joy of water; stories emerged of water’s affect in personal lives… thoughts of swimming, bathing, drinking, watching the stillness of the lake nearby, skating on frozen water, cooking with water, etc. There was encouragement to offer compassionate care for water and avoid taking it for granted or wasting it. Some walk daily a great distance to obtain the water they need.
Sr. Sue reminded attendees of many images of water in the Bible and stressed re-reading the Book of Genesis. Rivers are near and a part of everyone. Various rivers and lakes in and around Michigan were named. All joined to sing River of Jordan by Peter Yarrow … “I traveled the banks of the River of Jordan; To find where it flows to the sea; I looked in the eyes of the cold and the hungry; and I saw I was looking at me …”
Retreats tend to refresh, but this retreat did more than that … the realization that “we” were a family of individuals coming together to connect and gain strength from each other for the ongoing journey. Together through songs, prayers, meditations, sharing, walks, presentations, nurturing, laughs … participants took moments to feel grateful, and be thankful and inspired.
It was a calming weekend getaway from a world so full of chaos, despair, destruction, violence, busy lifestyles. Light rain fell a bit on Saturday; it was welcomed. Strolls to the lake front were peaceful; hikes on the trails were invigorating. Looking at colorful leaves among so many beautiful trees gave a sense of peace. God painted a gorgeous fall in Michigan, and no doubt smiled on Pax Christi.