The Most Beautiful Place in the World
While many college students take their Fall Break as an opportunity to sleep in and maybe have a day of Netflix time (as I have admittedly done in the past), this year I decided to do something different. I ventured with University Ministry to the Sinsinawa Mound in Wisconsin. The Mound is the founding place of the Sinsinawa Dominicans, where the Dominican Sisters begin as well as end their journey. When our group piled into the vans early on Friday morning, I had no idea the weekend that I was in for.
Set among rolling hills and gorgeous fields, the first thing that I noticed about the Mound was that it is remarkable beautiful. Having an innate attraction to the beauty and peace of nature, I felt an immediate sense of calm as soon as I stepped out of the van. As the rush of cool air hit my face and I first looked around I could already feel that this was a place full of love. That was proved to me almost immediately, as Sister Jeri Cashman greeted us with great energy and huge hugs. Throughout the weekend, Sr. Jeri was always there to make sure we had everything that we needed, and to simply provide with countless amounts of love and laughter. This abundance of hospitality was the case with all of the Dominican sisters that we had to chance to interact with during the weekend. Every single sister that I spoke with had such a genuine and loving nature about her, and even if I had never met her before, she spoke as if she had always known me. This was incredibly inspirational to me, and something that I hope to use more in my own life.
Usually I would prefer not to wake up incredibly early, but both mornings at the Mound a group of us decided to wake up early to see the sunrise. The first morning we climbed to the highest point of the Mound, and just stood together watching the sun come up through the trees. It was pretty cold and we were all tired, so we didn’t speak much, but the feeling of standing together as a group in this beautiful holy place was something that I will never forget. A few people started singing hymns and in that moment I felt remarkably close to God. The next morning we also woke up early to see the sunrise, but this time in a spot where we would have a completely clear view of the horizon. I have never seen a more beautiful sight. The sky began to turn pink, then orange, and then suddenly it exploded with sunlight. It was truly a breathtaking sight to behold.
Throughout the weekend I was able to form some wonderful relationships with my fellow retreat participants. That is probably my favorite thing about retreats in general—you can go in knowing absolutely nobody and come out with 10 new best friends. Something about a retreat experience allows people to open up and to truly be themselves in a way that they may not feel comfortable doing in other circumstances. These relationships that are formed are everlasting and are something that can never be forgotten.
I could go on for days and days about this experience, but unfortunately that is simply not possible. All I can really say is: Go to the Mound. Do it. I promise you will not regret it for one minute.