At our retreat last week-end, we had a neat getting-to-know you exercise. The tables were in a horseshoe shape, and in the middle, an empty glass jar surrounded by dishes of colored sand.
We were told to tell a bit about ourselves and to choose a color of sand that represented what we were feeling or where we were in our lives. We put the sand in the jar.
It was interesting to hear about people's lives, and my poet/teacher self was interested in what colors they chose. My artist self was intrigued by the ways that people began to combine colors: "Since there's no purple sand, I'll mix red and blue."
We had over 30 women, so it took the whole of our opening session on Friday night to do this exercise. But throughout the week-end, I had a strong sense of these women, which I often don't have in a standard retreat.
We had lots of time of sharing, and one of the problems with sharing times is the long-windedness of some participants. But on Friday night, each woman took just a tiny amount of speaking time. If we had done this exercise on Sunday morning, we'd likely still be there days later, listening and listening and listening.
The table stayed as the centerpiece of our horseshoe, and we were encouraged to add sand as we felt inspired to do so. I loved the way the sand swirled together. I loved the symbolism of all of our stories becoming one narrative.