How do we design an online recollection, when our students are safe at home, and are not advised to come to onsite learning? In addition, knowing that we cannot anymore give the usual number of sessions, like 3-4 sessions for a one-day recollection, and 6 sessions for a 2-day retreat, how can we design a program that is palatable to the context of the students, and prevents online fatigue?
My answer is this: Focus on the depth of experience.
St. Ignatius said, non multa sed multum: not many but much. When it is difficult to give several sessions in a retreat or a recollection as we have been accustomed in the old normal, the tenet “non multa sed multum” applies to an online recollection to young people, whose attention span is short and prone to online fatigue vis-a-vis their academic demands. To respond to their struggles, a single and simple experience at home treated in depth will be appropriate and beneficial. In a short while, I will show how this can be done. But note that it is important that the person in the video shares with a clear outline.
Here I used the outline of the St. Ignatius’ examen: Review, Gratitude, Forgiveness, and what to ask God for.
In other words, it is important to show what you expect from the students. While the video is available and accessible preferably in youtube, the activity is given as an assignment, while the sharing is scheduled some other time. When the students are gathered online, the sharer follows the same pattern of the examen. The next article will be dedicated to the second part of the recollection: the processing.
Sample video: Recollection using the Examen as an outline.
Being at home can get something off the ground. Such as a barrage of memories. I hold in my hand a photo of the wedding of my parents. They hold a very special and prominent place not just in my heart but also in my room. It is for me not to forget them.
But in a time when we are safe at home, and couldn’t do our usual routines of busyness, the photos that I see around me makes me review the times when both of them were raising me and my siblings and elicits in me a nostalgia that is helpful for my mental wellbeing.
One of the things I remember about them is that they would insist on eating together. Every single member of the family has a place at table. Our family home table is just enough to sit all of us: my dad and my mom would sit next to each other, and I, opposite the kabesera where my dad sat. Eating together was not just a family habit; it was a show of love and togetherness. It maintained our relationship. My dad would not eat unless my mom arrived, or vice versa. They would, however, join us for the meals. So it was imperative that all of us should be at table.
I am grateful for this memory. Even when I entered the Jesuits, I still find it difficult to eat alone. I love going out with friends and colleagues; have dinner with my bestfriend; and a late snack at around midnight with my colleagues in music after recording, mixing or after a concert. And best, is having a meal with my community.
But looking back at the things my parents taught me, I do have certain regrets. My dad died when I entered the Jesuits in 1990, and my mom in 2014. There were many things I would have done during those years that they were alive, but couldn’t because of the very circumstance I was in. However I know my parents understand. Though she was proud of me, mom missed me so much but knew that I could not spend time with her since my assignments as a Jesuit was far away from Bicol. I would visit her occasionally and for only a few days.
What to ask God.
So my regrets I have turned into a conviction: to spend time with my students, to try being a good parent to them, so that whatever I learned from my parents I would be able to pass on to the people I am missioned to care for. In this way, I have both forgiven myself and at the same time, lived the legacy of time and togetherness which my parents have taught me. I include my parents always in my masses, and at the same time, pray earnestly that I’d become more than what my parents has given me. I think we have to improve the human race by becoming better than the past generation.
How about you? You can do a gallery walk around your home, or even your room. Take some photos and go walk on memory lane. Let the memories barrage your heart and remember the good times, and take the lessons from the hurtful ones. You know what you can do? You can take any empty jar, can or container and personalize them. Decorate and place your name. You will call it your gratitude jar. Use color or shape to categorize what it will contain: one for gratitude, another for your regrets, and another for what you want to do more for people who matter to you. Like the McDo ad about “Nakalock-down tayo, Ma” but mas nakilala kita, what now will you do for them. That will be the third paper. Feel free. Do it daily to develop a grateful and learning heart. Making it a habit, will create a better you, even after the lockdown.
Invitation to the online processing.
See you in our online session as scheduled.
This video can be viewed at my Youtube channel: The link is here.