In the fall of 2010 I began a monthly mini-retreat program "Spirituality for Everyday Living” at Sacred Hearts Retreat Center in Wareham, MA. In the course of four years (Fall 2010-Spring 2014) I facilitated 35 different programs. Between the fall of 2014 and spring of 2018, I repeated many of these mini-retreats for the monthly series, as well as added 14 new ones. Below is a complete list of the 49 two-and-a-half-hour programs that can be presented in other venues by request. Peggy
September: Come to the Quiet
As the lazy days of summer fade away, we can find ourselves picking up the pace with little awareness of our on-going need for stillness, quiet and solitude. When we move too quickly amidst noise and obligation, it’s easy to become fragmented and fatigued. We can even lose our sense of purpose. Silence holds many gifts and making time to explore the treasures of silence might just be what our souls need.
October: Autumn Reflections
Autumn poignantly mirrors the human experience of change and letting go. Though turning leaves may be brilliant in color and beautiful to see, times of transition for us earthlings may not be quite as appealing. Navigating times of change can be a struggle, but these periods also provide wonderful opportunities for personal growth and new freedom. The cyclic nature of life can offer us hope and peace.
November: Blessings in Abundance
Our happiness depends on the depth of our gratitude. Traditionally, November is a time to remember our gifts, but how can we maintain an attitude of gratitude throughout the entire year? It is not always easy to think positive, especially when the going gets rough. A new way of seeing can improve the view and enable us to celebrate life everyday.
December: Love Is the Answer
Christmas is a time to commemorate the birth of Christ. One of the greatest gifts Jesus gave us was his example of how to live life meaningfully. German mystic and poet, Angelus Silesius said, “Christ could be born a thousand times in Galilee - but all in vain until he is born in me.” Christmas reminds us that living like Jesus, living a life of love is how we live meaningfully . . . for love is the answer.
January: The Time of Our Lives
Excessive thinking about time creates anxiety. Will I have enough time to get things done? Will I make my appointment on time? Will the meeting end on time? What if time took on a whole new meaning? What if time was thought of in terms of quality vs. quantity? With the start of a new year, we tend to look ahead with renewed commitment and hope for a brighter future. Beginning a new year is a good time to reflect on what we want to do personally with the time of our lives.
February: Embracing Mystery
Much to our disappointment, there is a great deal about life we do not understand. Why do bad things happen to good people? Just how does a seed grow? What happens after we die? What is God really like? Life is filled with mystery, “and by its very nature, mystery cannot be solved; it can only be lived,” says physician Rachel Naomi Remen. The darkness of winter is a good metaphor for the soul seeking answers to the unknown. Yet, to grow spiritually, we must learn to reverence and embrace the darkness . . . and ultimately surrender to Mystery.
March: Growing in Compassion
Life provides innumerable opportunities to apply either judgment or compassion. It is often easier to criticize and judge than to try to understand and forgive. Lent reminds us to make the choice to keep growing. It invites us to go inward and challenges us to become more like the all-loving Christ. As we journey through Lent, might we take time apart to reflect on our need to grow in compassion and forgiveness?
April: Sing Your Own Song
Each of us has our own unique song to sing. Each of us is called to become the special individual we are meant to be. Others may try to influence us, but if we are to be happy, we must listen to the voice within. Singing our own song is a matter of integrity. Discovering our song is a process that can take much time, and to paraphrase the poet Mary Oliver, “but little by little there will be a new voice which you slowly recognize as your own.”
May: Lighten Up ~ A Yard Sale for the Soul
We need not travel far to find a yard sale in the spring! Many of us tend to collect and acquire, filling our homes to the brim. Living simply does not come easily in our American culture. On a spiritual level, a garage sale can remind us to lighten up and let go of what clutters both our inner and outer worlds. Re-focusing on what is truly essential might be a beneficial way to do some “spring cleaning.”
September: The Beauty of Being Real
Isn’t it a joy to be in the company of people who are real! Their authenticity invites and frees us to be ourselves. Though becoming the person we are meant to be takes time and includes pain, inner beauty is the end result. . . and as the Skin Horse said to the Rabbit in the 1975 classic The Velveteen Rabbit, “Once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
October: A Journey to Peace
Loss is a universal experience that comes in many forms. “Unrecognized losses and unexpressed grief are often at the core of our unwellness.” ( Grief’s Courageous Journey, Caplan and Lang). Though at times sadness and sorrow may feel overwhelming, we are not powerless. When we allow ourselves to journey through the grieving process, healing can be experienced, hope can be restored and peace can be found.
November: Being a Blessing
With Thanksgiving this month we typically recall and reflect upon all the good things in our lives for which we are grateful. One of these gifts we may overlook, however, is the blessing we ourselves are to others. Each of us has the power to heal and strengthen the life in others in both small and extraordinary ways. It is our very own life experiences that serve as a great resource for being a blessing.
December: The Power of Kindness
Everyone needs a little kindness, especially when we are hurting. A simple act of kindness can make a powerful and lasting impact. Ralph Waldo Emerson advises us to not postpone kindness when he says, “You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” As we prepare for Christmas, a feast that commemorates Christ bringing Light into our world, let us explore how we too might lift others up and be a source of light in their lives.
January: A Fresh Start
With the beginning of a new year, we typically look forward with renewed hope and commitment to what is important to us. Many of us even make resolutions to improve our lives. In spite of certain challenges and perhaps even failure to achieve our goals, we can still succeed, for it has been said, “The only time you fail is the last time you try.” What do you most want for yourself in 2012? It’s time for a fresh start!
February: On Courage
Everyone knows fear, but not everyone is controlled by his or her fear. Ambrose Redmoon says, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear.” Keeping our priorities forefront, along with inspiration from those we deem courageous, can help us face our fears and make the leap of faith into a fuller life.
March: Longing for Connection
As the old saying goes, “No man is an island.” We are meant for relationship – for union and communion with others. The deepening of our connection with our brothers and sisters happens when we share our story. Imagine a world where we knew each other’s stories! The longing for connection is a basic human need and perhaps a clue to how we might bring about peace in a world so desperately in need of oneness.
April: The Power of Goodness ~ A Reason to Hope
Easter reminds us that goodness is stronger than evil. It is a feast of hope and victory. Easter challenges us not to give up, but to see possibility. In spite of the doom and gloom reported by the media, we have reason to be hopeful for there is a tremendous amount of good happening all around us. To quote Howard Zinn, “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage and kindness.”
May: Look at the View
Life is a most wonderful gift given to us by God. Sadly, we do not always recognize it to be so. It’s tempting to keep the blinders on and focus on the negative. However, we diminish ourselves when we become the victim. Each of us has sole custody of our own lives and we can choose to see the beauty and abundance in life. We can choose to turn a crisis into an opportunity. We can choose to make each day a masterpiece.
June: The Gift of Play
As adults we might think that play is something only children do. Perhaps that’s because we do not really understand what play really is. “Play is the fresh air of the soul; it is the recess of life,” says Benedictine Joan Chittister. Play is a sacred act and can be a form of prayer. The ability to play is a gift God has given us in order to live life more fully.
September: Claim Your Power
Each of us has the power to transform our own life, as well as make an impact on the lives of others. A National Day of Encouragement, which was created in 2007 by a group of high school students and officially recognized in 2008 by President Bush, is celebrated every September. Offering encouragement is but one way to be a force of change for good. The possibilities are limitless when we claim our power to make a difference.
October: Cling to Nothing
One of the most difficult challenges many of us face is learning to let go. There are many things we cling to, for example, our opinions, possessions, lifestyle, status and relationships. Recognizing that nothing is permanent, and seeing everything as a gift, can help us find peace and solace when we long to hold on tightly. With God’s grace, letting go is possible.
November: Be Not Afraid
The topic of death is one we may prefer to avoid. It can be uncomfortable to talk about our mortality and the anticipated passing of those we love. What if we were unafraid to share our thoughts on this inevitable part of life? Perhaps then, fear could give way to trust and loneliness could be replaced by companionship. Autumn’s array of color, signaling the process of dying, is but a reflection of the beauty found in the acceptance of our own life cycle.
December: In God's Heart
There are as many reasons as there are ways to pray, but all prayer acknowledges a Power greater than ourselves. Learning to pray always and all ways can deepen our relationship with the Source of all Life and Love. Kahil Gibran wrote, “You should not say, ‘God is in my heart, but rather, I am in the heart of God.’” Advent is a good time to explore prayer and remember just how loved we are by God – the One in whose heart we are forever held.
January: In Search of More
We are all seekers of “the more” in life and we may go to great lengths to find it. One place we often fail to look is right where we are – in the ordinary encounters and experiences of our lives. Sometimes we struggle to know more, be more, succeed more and all we really have to do is love more. Perhaps the most “more” we will ever find is in love of one another.
April: Life Is Messy
Life is messy. It is never 100% the way we want it to be. Many unwanted “interruptions” color our landscape and challenge our peace of mind. God, however, is present in every circumstance of our lives. When we accept what is, and remain open to grace, all is well.
May: Honoring Our Mothers, Loving Ourselves
Regardless of how healthy or wounded a mother is, the child receives many gifts from her, though perhaps they come in disguise. May is an appropriate month to reflect on the role our own mother has played in our lives and to recognize these gifts. To honor our mother is to actually love ourselves because our mother has contributed significantly to the person we have become today.
September: Peacemaking in a Troubled World
Living in a world filled with conflict, we might ask “Is peace possible? Can I make a difference?” Though creating peace might seem an indomitable task, we can make very real contributions. A popular hymn holds a clue: Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. We each can do our part to bring about global transformation if we are willing to engage in personal transformation.
October: Nestle, Don't Wrestle
Everyone needs to feel loved and significant. However, life can get us down and threaten our sense of worth. Childhood wounds, judgment from others, disappointment in ourselves, stress and fatigue can challenge one’s self-esteem. At times like these it’s best to heed the advice of author Corrie ten Boom and nestle in God’s unconditional love rather than wrestle with ourselves.
November: Ordinary Miracles, Sacred Moments
Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” It’s all about attitude, perspective and awareness. Thanksgiving is an especially appropriate time to pay attention to the many ordinary miracles and sacred moments life provides.
December: Longing for God
Our longing for God is universal. Seekers from around the world share a common quest for the Divine. Though the way to God is broad and steep, the desire to be close to God propels us on our journey. Fortunately, God too longs to be close to us. As we prepare to celebrate the feast of the Incarnation it is a good time to remember that God indeed did become one of us in the person of Jesus.
January: To Be Faithful
What does it mean to be faithful? Faithfulness can be played out in so many ways, such as, through honoring commit-ments, maintaining and nurturing relationships, or standing up for one’s beliefs. It is not always easy to be faithful, but the fidelity of God’s love can not only comfort us when times are difficult, but also remind us of what we too can be.
February: Magic Moments of Risk Taking
Actress-dancer, Eleanor Powell said, “What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.” Each of us is blessed with enormous potential to make our lives into a masterpiece. Until the day we die we can choose to keep on growing, but to do so, we must have the courage to take risks. Life is not a dress rehearsal. If we are willing to step outside of our comfort zones, who knows what surprises await us!
March: Jesus, the Healer
Who among us is not in need of healing? To be human is to be wounded. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest.” Lent is a good time to reflect on the life of Jesus, the Great Physician, whose healing power can touch us in unimaginable ways.
May: What to Do in the Darkness
Each of us goes through periods of darkness in our lives – times which can be fraught with fear, confusion, doubt and even anger. Though darkness can overwhelm us, we are not helpless. With loving support, faith in God and our own inner resources, we can find the strength to make it to the other side. Easter assures us that new life will be ours.
June: Don't Postpone Joy
“The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on water, but to live joyfully.” It does seem nothing short of a miracle to find happiness in the midst of life’s hardships, but with the dawn of each day we have the opportunity to choose how we want to live the next 24 hours. Because happiness is an inside job, we can opt for contentment over misery. Life is short; it’s best we don’t postpone joy.
September: A Relentless Teacher
September may mark the beginning of a new school year, but youth are not the only ones learning new lessons. We adults are students in the classroom of life – and life is a relentless teacher. What is life teaching you today?
October: Born Free
Benedictine Joan Chittister says, “ It is one thing to be given life by God. It is another thing to live it in a way that is a tribute to the possibilities.” We were born free, but life has a way of presenting challenges that can become limitations. God desires our freedom and happiness. We must claim our birthright!
February: Seasons of Our Lives
In the course of a lifetime we go through many seasons of the heart - each season providing challenges, lessons and gifts. We may be tempted to label each as “good” or “bad.” What if we re-defined “good?” Perhaps then we would see all of life as a blessing in its own way.
March: Here For a Purpose ~ An Ash Wednesday Retreat (9:00am to 3:30pm)
We are meant to live together on this earth as brothers and sisters in a community of love. Though conflict and differences keep us apart, transformation is possible. Lent is a good time to reflect on our purpose and to renew our commitment to follow Jesus and live His message of love: "Love each other as I have loved you." John 15:12
April: Aging with Grace
The topic of “aging” is not necessarily one that many want to talk or even think about. However, we are fortunate to keep growing older when we consider the alternative! What if we thought of aging as something good and enjoyable? After all, there are not only challenges, but also gifts that come as we advance in years.
June: Fired Up
The feast of Pentecost reminds us of the power of God to change lives, as it did over 2,000 years ago to the Apostles who went from fear to being fired up. We too can experience our own personal Pentecost when we allow the Spirit to take over our lives. Be ready though - because anything can happen when we get fired up!
September: Life Is Good ~ Live Joyfully
God desires our happiness. Life may be difficult, but joy and pain can co-exist. In spite of tough times, we can choose joy; for joy is an inside job. Regardless of circumstances, life can still be good.
November: The Pilgrimage of Life
As the Pilgrims of 1620 sought a new life in America, we too are seekers on our journey through life. If we are to travel well, our pilgrimage will require much strength, courage and trust. The manner in which we make this pilgrimage makes all the difference.
December: An Incredible Love Story
Christmas is an incredible love story – a story of God’s extravagant love for each of us. Acceptance of God’s love can actually transform our lives. Advent is a good time to step back and allow the power of this story to penetrate our hearts.
January: Follow Your Bliss
A new year can prompt us to dream, but dreaming alone is not enough to see change or create new ventures. We must believe and act. If we claim our power to co-create life with God, there’s virtually nothing we can’t do if we let joy be our compass.
February: Ash Wednesday ~ The Journey Inward (9:00am to 3:30pm)
Lent challenges us to go inward and discover what is in need of transformation. The journey of the soul, though not easy, leads to love and fullness of spirit. Personal transformation leads outward and inspires global transformation.
March: God in Our Story
Each of us has a story, a story that includes universal life experiences such as, love, rejection, fear, liberation, and mystery. Because our lives are woven with the Divine, we cannot be separate from God.
If we pay attention and listen deeply we will find God in our story.
April: Bloom Where You Are Planted
It is the “stuff” of our very own lives that holds the potential for us to develop and grow from seed to blossom. Every bit of it can contribute to our becoming more beautiful and whole. As a farmer tends to his garden with patience and love, we too can grow into fullness if we do the same.
May: Celebrating Women
Depending on the time in history, as well as the particular culture, women have traditionally been treated as less than equal to men. It has been a long slow process for women to claim who they really are - Daughters of the Great One. In May we remember our mothers who birthed us into this world. It is a fitting time to celebrate the life-giving qualities of all women, including those who never have had a child.
Comments from participants of the Mini-Retreat Series . . .
The topics are right-on. I always take home inspiration and feel uplifted.
The mini-retreats are a gift to myself and I look forward to each month's program.
A well-spent time ~ spiritual and thought-provoking. I appreciate the balance of presentation, quiet time to reflect and sharing from participants.
When I leave the retreat I am a stronger person, renewed and re-energized. The energy from Peggy and the group is contaigious
All of the retreats have been wonderful – the music, the readings, all that has been presented. Every retreat I have looked forward to and have left feeling relaxed and taking something away with me. Thanks so much.
Well-balanced with reflection time and content. With just a few hours, so much takes place within me.
The mini-retreats help me have a positive, loving attitude. They help my spirituality. It is good to see both familiar and new faces each month.
Enjoyable, amazing, refreshing, awesome! Absolutely life-giving!
They are beautifully structured. What you share with us, the songs, stories, prayers, etc. are phenomenal. I take away so much.
The mini-retreats are perfect. It’s a perfect amount of information for me. I can focus,
listen, learn and make so many connections. They make my day!
I enjoy the day away from day-to-day activities to have some quiet, enjoy God's beauty and be reminded of all my blessings.
The mini-retreat series is excellent. It fills a hole in my soul and promotes inner peace.
I absolutely want to see the program continue! It is special and there is a good feeling of community.
Even "repeats" are always wonderful!
I always come away not only with a treasured thought, but feeling like my bumps and scrapes from daily life have been balmed with kindness.