From Tuesday, September 17 through Friday, September 20, the Women of Providence in Collaboration held a conference for Associate Leaders of their various congregations. The theme of the conference was: Providence Spirituality and Contemplative Dialogue. The presenter was Leslie Keener, CDP from the Melbourne, KY group.
Leslie used Scripture, reflection questions, and her own life stories to help the group gathered to process how Providence spirituality is integral to our lives. She spoke about the importance of “listening with the ear of the heart” (St. Benedict); how important listening is–to ourselves–and to God speaking to us. As part of her presentation we also viewed a TED Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability” by Brene Brown. I highly recommend watching that talk–it has many great lessons within it.
Some of the other topics Leslie addressed were: shame and fear, trustworthiness, care of creation, courage, compassion, connection, and community. She quoted from a book by Christine Pohl: Living into Community, from which she shared these four elements.
- Gratitude–to see the good and gift in another; to remember the good times and notice how God cares for us.
- Promise Keeping–when someone is reliable and keeps their promises–brings gratitude out of us.
- Truth telling–being willing to have the hard conversations when necessary–naming our truth, and risking saying it.
- Hospitality–the importance of extending our being to reach out to another; radical acceptance.
Leslie addressed the group for a day and a half. Thursday afternoon we toured the Basilica of the Covington, KY diocese and had a riding tour of parts of Cincinnati. That evening the group held their business meeting where plans are made for the next conference, a planning committee is chosen, and they brainstorm about topics and locations. The next topic will be around climate change and how we respond as Providence people. On Friday the group addressed “hot topics” associate leaders grapple with, and what other WPC congregations are doing to address them. It was a great sharing among the leaders. The day ended with a closing ritual and lunch. Then people departed for home, filled with the bounty of sharing all the abundance that comes from a Provident God.
Photo: group photo of Associate Leadership
Barbara McMullen, CDP