Together Yet Alone, Alone Yet Together

Together Yet Alone, Alone Yet Together – Br. Michael Perras, ofm

Together yet alone, alone yet together. This phrase never caught my attention until midway through this past year of pandemic living. The challenge of being together in community all the time and trying to live as a fraternity can indeed have its challenges and graces. Each of us comes to the table with different perspectives and limited encounters with the world. We hear the same news over and over again and try to share it as if it’s breaking news. We bring our prayers, although they may be flat we raise up our words together. Yet we are alone in this togetherness, aren’t we? When our togetherness becomes an obstacle for honest conversations or continual conversion of the heart, we may feel alone even though we are surrounded by others. This was true before the pandemic and not just for religious communities but for so many people. Stuck in this togetherness and yet not truly seen or heard. So many in the world can feel like just a number or a statistic. I would like to think that we in religious communities don’t feel like a statistic however we can feel alone although we are together in community. What can we do about that? How can we mend this gentle tear in the fabric of our communities? I think this is where the advantage of alone yet together can come into play.

Alone yet together is the space we need to be able to see with new eyes, approach the common table with fresh stories and truly hear what is being said within us and outside of us. Alone yet together provides the sacred ground for our souls to breathe and delight. For it is here that the soul is given space to be and explore alone yet knows the support of togetherness. The together doesn’t become suffocating, rather it creates space, holds space and encourages the beauty that will arise in the struggles of this grace filled aloneness. Our society has caused us to fear being alone on any level but especially alone yet together. This fear escalates in us and causes us to doubt, to question our contributions and to constantly compare. This can impact us as religious too as it could blind us from our mission and being centered in God. 

This pandemic has not been easy for any of us. We have faced challenges and set-backs, we have stumbled along and have tried to rise up again and again. Hope has been our constant companion even if it has felt miniscule or unnoticed, it has never left us because our hope is in Jesus Christ. If you are feeling the need for some fresh air to breathe into your lungs but are uncertain how to make this happen may I suggest a retreat. A retreat is the grace-filled moments of alone yet together where your soul can soar, your vision can become clear and your hope can be restored again. Ideally in person retreats can foster body – mind – heart and soul, but even a virtual retreat can be this needed gift. I found this to be the grace I encountered last summer in the midst of the pandemic with the 55ish and Under Summer Retreat. I was awakened to deep truths; I was able to sit with story and was able to hear with opened ears the story of others. I was also able to laugh, pray and celebrate the gift of being alone yet together and together yet alone in a deeper way with other religious sisters, brothers and priests. 

This retreat opportunity is being made available to you again this summer. We all need to take “time away” so we can hear the voice of Jesus again or maybe hear his message of hope more clearly. A summer retreat is a perfect gift for anyone but maybe even more so for youngish religious in this ever changing and challenging world. Why don’t you join us this summer? Invite a religious sister, brother or priest to come along with you for this together yet alone, alone yet together time of grace.

An Invitation Towards Hope

Virtual Retreat for Religious 55ish and Under who minister or are associated through their community to the Church in Canada. 

August 8-14, 2021

Retreat Leader: Sr. Mary Rowell, csj

– bioethicist – spiritual companion – facilitator – ecological leader – educator –

Cost: $150

Registration Deadline: June 1, 2021

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