Neighborhood Night of Peace: Tutus and so much more!

Jody Tigges, Vis Companion

Jody Tigges, Vis Companion

The following post comes to us from Vis Companion Jody Tigges. Jody wrote this reflective piece on the heels of her experience  volunteering at our Neighborhood Night of Peace event. We are happy to publish it here as part of our “Visitation Companions in Service” series. 

The Tutu Lady was at our Neighborhood Night of Peace again this year. She came bearing mountains of boxes of lovingly crafted tutus in a variety of colors.  I was drawn to the little girls of various ages standing at the edges of the boxes with eyes wide.

One small child stood near me in pink tennis shoes with sparkles all over them.

Tutu2“What color do you like?” I asked her.

“Pink,'” she whispered.

I looked among the tutus — all carefully wapped in tissue paper — and spotted a solid bright pink one.  Picking it up, I said, “Here is a tutu in pink, do you think you’d like this one?”

The little girl, possibly 5 or 6 years old, dropped all her prizes from the fish pond on the ground. She placed her hands on her cheeks and her voice quivered as she said, “Oh my gosh! Is this for me?”

“Yes, if you’d like to have it,” I replied.

“Oh, I’ve always wanted my very own tutu!” she exclaimed.

"Princess" tutus!

“Princess” tutus!

“Would you like to wear it?” I asked her.  She nodded in the affirmitive as together we worked to untie the ribbon from around the tissue paper.

As the paper fell away, she began to tremble with excitement. She gripped my legs as together we worked so she could step into her new skirt. A huge smile took its place on her face as she looked down at the tutu.

“Momma I finally have a princess tutu!” she said beaming.

Another volunteer said that she could shake it to get all the tulle to hang down properly.

The little girl stopped, did a little dance, thanked the tutu lady and skipped off alongside her mom.

For this little girl and many others ages 1 year to 12, Neighborhood Night of Peace was the night that dreams came true.

I smile as I think of how blessed I am to have been part of it all, tutus and so much more.

On Contemplative Listening: A Doorway into a Deeper Encounter With God

Vis Companions Heidi and Bianca practice centering prayer

Vis Companions Heidi and Bianca practice contemplative listening

by Phil Soucheray, Visitation Companion

God invites. Are we willing to listen?

Be still and know that I am God.

That’s what the psalmist wrote in Psalm 46.

Like many of the psalms, the context of the lyrics refers to a powerful God in whom humanity is urged to find strength in the face of distress. But, there is another facet of messaging in those words that I find I prefer. Indeed, it’s one I find I can’t live without.

It is a message of comfort; of confidence; of connection. And, as a recent spiritual retreat hosted by the sisters of the Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis reminded us, it is one of openness and hospitality. Those who are willing to immerse themselves in the implication of the message are being offered a doorway into deeper encounter with God.

The sisters and those great spiritual guides who have long gone before call the practice of being still in order to know God, contemplative listening.  What one may hear is never a certainty. But what becomes apparent in undertaking the practice is that it’s very easy to lose God’s signal for all the noises that surround us in our daily lives.

Convened in a circle

Convened in a circle

That the sisters should be particularly skilled in contemplative listening is no surprise. It is, after all, something of a staple of the monastic community they form. That they are so solid in their commitment to its practice where they happen to live is something that impresses me deeply. And that they extend that grace and invite us into their company so we can also be still and perhaps come to know God better, is a privilege.

That sense of privilege is one I know that is shared by the rest of the Visitation Companions who participated on this special day. As one of our group observed afterward, the experience of the retreat left her feeling like Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. This companion admits that she is more often like Martha, planning, preparing, serving.

“I can and do read lots of books and articles on Salesian spirituality,” she says. “But nothing can compare to sitting at the feet of these wise women who share their knowledge, their lived experience and their love with all.”

She goes on to say that, “On this day, I am glad that I decided to be a Mary and leave my inner Martha behind.

I would offer that so say we all who were able to partake.

Be still and know that I am God.