Workshop on Transactional Analysis

This week-long workshop was entitled ‘Understanding Self and Others.’ David presented the key concepts of Transactional Analysis (TA), explaining how Script Analysis, Ego State analysis, Transactional Analysis proper, and Game analysis go to help people understand their individual or intrapsychic activity as well and providing material to help understand our inter-personal dynamics. Each day consisted of various explanations of the theory of TA followed by very practical individual and group activities.

Laudato Si

Day four began with a meaningful prayer which highlighted our place in relation to the earth. Laodato Si was discussed as one of Pope Francis’ attempts in reforming the Church and ways in which we can proactively care for the Earth was presented through powerpoint presentations.
The presentations throughout the day revolved around Allan Johannes’ quote: “Let us protect with love all that God has given us. We need to fall in love with God’s earth and celebrate it.”

Some of the challenges that could hold us back from this way of forging ahead in contemplating the Divine in everything, and caring for Mother Earth from a place of deep reverence, was highlighted as:
• An old spirituality that is enshrined in prayers like the Hail Holy Queen: where we call ourselves banished children of Eve and the earth is seen as a vale of tears
• Our fears around falling prey to pantheism should we venture into the mystical understanding of finding God in all things.
• The dangers associated with Monism – Non-dual Spirituality.
From this we were challenged and invited to consider looking at the world as a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise, rather than a problem to be solved.

Questions presented for reflection were:
• What can we do as a religious to promote the spirit of Laudato Si?
• Shouldn’t we train somebody in our Province for the Ministry of Caring for the Earth?
The Liturgy around the fire in the evening brought a fitting conclusion to our day.

The Jewish-Christian Story

Days two and three, traced the Jewish Christian Story beginning with the Creation Story down through the centuries to the time of Jesus where we tried to see how the Earth was percieved positively in the Christian tradition and scripture texts were explored in the light of Yahweh’s benovolence towards the Earth Community.
The positive ideas of Apostolic Fathers like Ignatius of Antioch, St Ireneus and Clement of Alexandria in relation to the Earth, brought further understanding and appreciation of the Christian Tradition . Francis of Assissi, Ignatius of Loyala, and Hildegard of Bingen were mentioned for their mystical insights into care for the earth and our call to experience the Divine in everything. Teilhard de Chardin’s contribution to this evolving understanding was given a praiseworthy mention. Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, Rosemary Reuther, Miriam Mc Guillis, Mathew Fox Sallie Mc Fague, Fr. Bede Griffiths, Samuel Ryan, Ishwar Prasad, Jerry Rosario, Sebastian Painadath were presented as great thinkers who can inform our thinking and inspire our spirituality today.

The bread and wine ritual around the fire outdoors was a time to share stories of Mother Earth. The outdoor meditations and the rituals in the morning which were creatively led by the Brothers brought further meaning and enrichment to the programme.

What emerged from the two days work was a deeper awareness that:
• “We are all connected.” And in the words of Robert SJ, “We are all cousins to each other.” Hence the great need of promoting a Spirituality of Relationships with the entire Earth and Earth Community.
• The Presence of God permeates everything and hence the need to find God in everything and everything in God.
• Teilhard de Chardin concept that The Big Bang must be seen as the journey from Alpha to Omega and the all-pervading Presence of God now experienced as the Cosmic Christ.

At the end of the third day we were left with the question: Where are we along our unfolding faith journey which was presented in 3 Stages:
1. Popular Christianity
2. Initiated in the new understanding of an emerging cosmology
3. Rebel or Mystic

Workshop on Emerging Cosmology

The sixth week of the OP at Nairobi, was dedicated to the study of The Emerging Cosmology through a Workshop facilitated by Fr. Robert Athickal SJ who is the founder of the Ecological Centre – Tarumitra (Friend of Trees), Patna, India. The theme of Ecology and Eco-spirituality was the  highlight of the week.

On the first day, the work of Tarumitra was presented through a PowerPoint presentation. Some of the gleanings of what was shared with the participants,  reflected how from very humble beginnings in 1988, the Centre has made an incredible journey of reaching out to thousands of students within the State of Bihar, it networks  with 23 States in India, has an NGO Status in the UN and collaborates with other ecological international forums in bringing about a positive change on this planet. The entire presentation highlighted the ripple effect this organization has and continues to have on all those who engage with it.

Sexuality Workshop

Donal gave a very comprehensive four-day workshop on sexuality.  He explained how sexuality and spirituality are intimately linked, and how the dark energy (expanding) and dark matter (contracting) reflect the two-fold dynamic of sexuality that is expansive on the one hand and yet needs also to be grounded in reality.

He differentiated between women and men as to how they manage their sexuality.  Often for men the subject of sexuality is inclined to be a taboo subject, while women seem more at ease discussing many aspects of sexuality.

Donal then went on to journey through the sexual life-cycle of an individual, highlighting the areas of underdevelopment and how these areas need to be dealt with before moving on to the next stage.  He pointed out that some people never manage to reach the full maturity of a sexual person.

Finally, he explained how we are being invited to move through a series of stages to arrive at a mature level of celibacy.

Week-long Workshop on Transactional Analysis (TA)

 

This week-long workshop on TA was entitled, ‘Understanding Self and Others.’  The aims of the workshop were to assist Brothers to understand their individual intrapsychic dynamics that lie at the foundation of their belief in self, others and the future, as well as helping them to have a real understanding of how the dynamics of community can impact on the quality of community life.  TA has four main areas of exploration:  script analysis, ego state analysis, transactional analysis and game analysis.  Each day, David explained the main aspects of each of these four dimension of TA, providing the basic theory first, followed by both individual and group activities.  The Brothers engaged fully in the workshop and gain a good level of insight in themselves and into each other.

Theological Reflection

Following the experience of immersion in Kibera slum, the Brothers were invited to engage in some theological reflection. Theological reflection is an excellent tool to enable people systematically to explore life’s experiences, to reflect critically upon their meaning, and to theologize explicitly about the God event in their lives in light of the ourChristian tradition.

The process was quite lengthy and the Brothers found it very helpful in unpacking the experience of the previous day.

Immersion Experience

Part of the value of the Orientation Programme is that it affords the Brothers the opportunity to experience what life is like among the marginalised in society.  The Brothers went today to Kibera, a slum of over a million people who have to live in the most challenging of circumstances.  The first port of call was the Mary Rice Centre whose Director is Brother Gerald Mgalula.  There they saw how the teachers care so lovingly with children who have many forms of disability.

From there, the Brothers visited some of the homes of the Edmund Rice Volunteers and learned from them how living in Kibera poses significant challenges.

Then after lunch, the Brothers visited three schools, meeting with the Principals and planning to re-visit these schools during the next immersion day.

Overall, this was a very valuable experience for everyone.

Life in Nairobi

We were very fortunate to have had the wisdom and learning from Dr Aloys Otieno Ojore, lecturer in Tangaza University from the Arts and Social Sciences Department. Dr Aloys has a Doctorate in Practical Theology from Cambridge.  He lectures on religion, theology, social teaching of the Church, justice, and governance to name just some of his subjects.

Aloys gave a very extensive view on the political, economic and social reality of Kenya, and then went on to reflect on the role of leadership in the African context.  The concept of servant leadership seems to be almost alien to the current leadership styles in Kenya.

In the afternoon, Aloys discussed whether there is a culture or cultures in Africa and whether there are African religions or African religion.  This discussion was most interesting as it invited the Brothers to reflect on how Christianity and African religion often lie uneasily one with the other.

MBTI – day three

Sunil explained how the judging (J) and perceiving (P) people view tasks.  The Js prefer an organised lifestyle, make short-and long-term plans and then follow through.  They life to have things decided. The Ps on the other hand prefer a more flexible lifestyle and adjust flexibly to new information and changes, and prefer to explore options instead to being too rigid.

Each of the Brothers was presented with a detailed description of their personality type and in groups explored how others saw them.  Then they were able to see how people from the outside can indeed intuit some of the elements of their type, but not all.

Finally, Sunil warned of the danger of misusing the MBTI especially by labelling people and guessing others’ type from impression.

The workshop concluded on Wednesday and all the Brothers found it a most useful and stimulating workshop.