UPCaMers came together this past Friday, October 30th, for the group’s semesterly retreat. The retreat was to be an 18-hour lock-in at the Interfaith Center centered around the theme, “Spiritual Trick-or-Treat” (Halloween and All Saint’s Day). This year the retreat was attended by four students, who began arriving around 5:00pm on Friday – toting sleeping bags, pillows, and backpacks. After everyone had settled down, the evening began with a brief Bible study and a discussion of the history of Halloween.
Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve, was originally a Celtic pagan holiday that celebrated summer’s end and the final harvest before the frosts. It was believed that October 31 was the day between summer and fall (or the beginning of winter), a day when the barrier between the human world and the spirit world was at its weakest. Although history is now uncertain, “treats” were often given to placate, or masks worn to scare away, spirits that might otherwise ravage winter stores or cause sickness. The Catholic Church, after failing to successfully abolish the holiday, placed All Saints’ Day (originally in the spring) in the middle of the three-day summer’s end celebrations, hoping to supersede the pagan traditions.
The discussion mainly focused around this topic, around the subject of All Saints’ Day (and more specifically, around saints themselves): What makes a saint? Can anyone be a saint? Even a non-Christian? The discussion concluded with making of an “All the Saints…” poster on which students wrote the name (or names) of someone they consider a saint, which now hangs on UPCaM’s cubicle wall.
Although the group had originally planned on a home-cooked pasta dinner (courtesy of CSU UPCaM leftovers), the retreat was instead invited to Church of the Covenant’s Trunk-or-Treat for dinner and fun. There, the crew was able to go on an unexpected (and childishly-thrilling) hay ride through the area (down Euclid, around Wade Oval, through Little Italy, and finally returning to the church parking lot): The “adult” college students highly enjoyed sitting on hay bales in a trailer being pulled by a truck at 35mph through uptown Cleveland with a number of families of small children. Following the hay ride, the retreat partook of a delicious hot meal of chili and corn bread before returning upstairs to the Interfaith Center.
The discussion and Bible study from before Trunk-or-Treat was concluded with the movie, St. Vincent, which features the story of an “unlikely saint” nominated by a little boy for his Catholic school’s project on saints.
The rest of Friday evening, UPCaMers made “no-sew” blankets for children experiencing homelessness (to be donated to CSU UPCaM’s blanket collection for the homeless). Learning as they went, the group cut and tied the fleece bases for blankets while watching the movie, Noah, and later, The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Although two students had to leave retreat early (one returned the next morning), by the end of the retreat, the group had completed five blankets for donation.
The next morning, the group rose groggily between 9:30 and 10:00 (with the exception of one early bird who did homework until the others were fully awake). Breakfast, cooked by everyone, was waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, bacon, and––for some––candy and doughnuts remaining from the night before. The retreat was concluded with a prayer before students had to disperse to jobs, homework, and other obligations for the day.
The retreat, from start to finish, was accompanied by a plethora of snacks–– traditional UPCaM favorites such as popcorn and hostess donuts, but also candy corn, fun size chocolates, and twizzlers in celebration of Halloween. Overall, the retreat was all that could have been hoped for, providing a respite from academics through spiritual reflection, companionship, service, and (of course) movies and good food.
Photo credit given to Barbara Essex, via Facebook
This blog is written by me, Katie Buerger (unless noted otherwise) and maintained by UPCaM@Case. I am a current sophomore at CWRU, and have been an UPCaM member since my first year. Because I am Spiritual Potpourri’s exclusive writer, this means the opinions and perspectives given in blog posts are limited to my views. I think myself to be open-minded, but I am human. I do research my topics (all the sources are listed at the bottom of each post), but I ultimately can only write from my perspective as a Christian. I try to write to a general audience (not exclusively to Christians), but I do at times make assumptions about the knowledge of my readers. However, I would like to assert that my views are not representative of UPCaM’s or Christianity’s – they are mine alone.