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Reflection exercise

Gimmick or Genius?

Dominic 4

In today’s society unless something can be seen, smelt, tasted or touched its existence is questionable. With this in mind how can one visualise the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Enter the ‘Salt Jar’ which is both gimmick and genius…

not in equal measures, the genius of the ‘Salt Jar’ far outweighs its ‘gimmicky-ness’ (if that’s a passable word?)

I was first introduced to the genius of the ‘Salt Jar’ back in the autumn of 2012. At the time I was based in the parish of Dunboyne as a ‘parish pastoral worker’ and decided to sign up for the Shekinah retreat giving course which took place at that time in All Hallows in Drumcondra.

The course, overseen by Sr Jennifer and Fr John, in its essence provides training to the participants giving them a firm foundation, and solid skill set, which allows them to conduct school retreats as part of a retreat team. (I say firm foundation and solid skill set since education and learning around giving retreats is continual and lifelong and hopefully our skill set will be developed and added to over the years…the day we think we can conduct the perfect retreat is perhaps the day we need to step aside and leave it to someone else!?) The course also offers a ‘mind blowing’ insight into the world of young adults with many and varied inputs from professionals ranging from music, art therapy, psychology and much more.

The ‘Salt Jar’ is what it says it is; a jar full of salt! The salt however is coloured by the ‘miracle’ of chalk.

(Salt Jar used during a Confirmation ceremony)

 (Tool kit!)

Those on retreat can make their own coloured salt by simply rubbing a stick of chalk in salt, the salt breaks the chalk down producing coloured salt in the process.

This part time author and sporadic retreat giver likes to mix the salt and chalk either the night before…(usually last thing before bed…or in the days prior to the retreat…which would be a ‘miracle’ in itself) by using mortar & pestle and hand held blender, as in the picture above, the salt is then returned to the commercial ‘tubs’ from whence they came ready for use.

I just feel that with limited time in a full day of events it frees up time and reduces stress levels?

In the parish of Templemore, Killea and Clonmore, Co Tipp where I am based as curate we have Confirmation every 2nd year so this has been my second experience outside of the Shekinah Course and its practical component. We have 4 schools so conduct retreats over 3 days (the 2 smaller schools come together for their retreat). Place of retreat is vitally important and we are blessed here in the parish to have The McAuley Community Centre a wonderful resource centre and parish office gifted to the community 5 years ago by the Mercy Sisters. This year word of our retreats has spread and we have had 3 visiting schools.

Each retreat day finishes with the retreatants receiving a ‘feedback’ form which they fill out in the following days.

They say the ‘proof of the pudding is in the eating’ and the Salt Jar’ activity always ranks highly in the ‘what did you like best section’…highly but NOT first…it’s truly amazing how our young people still crave silence and companionship with Jesus; Sr. Helen Kennedy conducts a truly amazing guided meditation where, in the spirit of St Ignatius Loyola, there are invited to place themselves in the Gospel scene with Jesus. They have a wonderful capacity to do this and do it so well.

Someone once said ‘Imagination is evidence of the Divine’…perhaps the future is bright?

The gifts of The Holy Spirit (in a jar) for all the world to see!

Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Courage, Reverence, Right Judgement and Awe & Wonder in the presence of God.

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