Telling the Tales: The Power of Story and Narrative for Personal & Social Transformation

Enuma Okoro

Special Guest: Enuma Okoro

When: March 1-6, 2020

Where: Serra Retreat Center — Malibu, California

Enuma Okoro is a Nigerian-American author, speaker, lecturer and consultant whose work explores Identity and Culture, Africa and the Diaspora, Holistic Wellness and Spirituality, and the transforming Power of Story and Narrative. Her work explores how stories (told and believed) are the central way of shaping human perspectives and behavior. Currently at work on a novel about identity and notions of home, Okoro has published four books of nonfiction, and her articles and essays have been featured in The New York Times, CNN African Voices, AEON Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The UK and US Guardian, The Washington Post, Essence Magazine, and other media outlets.

In addition to writing Okoro speaks and teaches seminars, leads developmental workshops and retreats, and coaches on the topics; Understanding and Using the Power of Narrative for Transforming Communities and Relationships, Identity and (Dis)Belonging, Spirituality and Holistic Wellness, Personal Well-being and Development, and Living with Intention and Alignment of Purpose.

Born in New York City and raised in Cote D’Ivoire, England, North America and Nigeria, Okoro has taught spiritual and creative writing workshops at Princeton Theological Seminary, Duke Divinity School, The Collegeville Institute and more. She has been the recipient of writing fellowships at The Callaloo Creative Writing Program at Brown University, The KimbilioWriting Residency in Taos, New Mexico and The CivitellaRanieri Foundation’s International Artists Residency Program in Umbria, Italy. 

Her educational training and professional background is in Creative Writing, Psychology and Communication, Family Systems Therapy and Human Development, and Theology. She is a certified coach and spiritual director in the Jesuit-Ignatian tradition.

Her first book, Reluctant Pilgrim was recognized by USA Book News as a 2010 Best Books Award Winning Finalist for Religion, and received the 2011 Indie National Book Awards Winning Finalist in Spirituality and Non-Fiction.

In 2018 she was recognized by The Guardian Nigerian national newspaper as one of the 100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria. 

As an international speaker, Okoro had the honor of being the first woman of African descent to speak from the historic 200 year-old platform of The American Church in Paris, France, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was the first man of African descent to speak  from the same platform in 1965, after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in  Oslo. 

Her multiple speaking invitations have included a TEDxtalk in London on global perceptions of multicultural women, identity and the power of cultural narratives, the Harvard Business School, Oxford University, The Policy Center for the New South’s Atlantic Dialogues Conference in Marrakech, The Abu Dhabi Culture Summit, Princeton University, The Bloomberg Media Conference and more.

Enuma was enthusiastically received as our speaker in August 2015 at Companions in Tahoe and we are delighted to have her with us again.

 

 

Description — We live in a time where issues of identity and belonging are points of both public and private controversy and debate, and determine the outcomes of the lives of millions of people.  It is essential to know the role that stories and narratives play in our perceptions and in our actions in the world.  But this begins by acknowledging and owning our own stories and working narratives. Understanding the power of stories and narratives is a matter of us living well in the world together, and effecting transformative change for our local and global communities.This retreat will focus on the power of story and narrative and learning to tell ours for the benefit of personal and social transformation.

Tahoe 2019 with Dr. Rachel Harding and Dr. Wendy Farley

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Special Guest: Rachel Harding & Wendy Farley

When: August 4-9, 2019

Where: Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center, Lake Tahoe, NV

Rachel Elizabeth Harding, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Indigenous Spiritual Traditions in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado — Denver.  A native of Georgia, a writer, historian and poet, Rachel is a specialist in religions of the Afro-Atlantic diaspora and studies the relationship between religion, creativity and s­ocial justice activism in cross-cultural perspective. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and holds an MFA in creative writing from Brown University and a PhD in history from the University of Colorado Boulder.  Harding is author of A Refuge in Thunder: Candomblé and Alternative Spaces of Blackness as well as numerous poems and essays.  Rachel’s second book, Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism and Mothering, combines her own writings with the autobiographical reflections of her mother, Rosemarie Freeney Harding, on their family history and the role of compassion and spirituality in African American social justice organizing. Rachel is an ebomi (elder initiate) in the Terreiro do Cobre Candomble community in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, where she has been a participant for over 20 years.

Wendy Farley, Ph.D. is Professor of Christian Spirituality and holder of the Rice Family Chair in Spirituality at San Francisco Theological Seminary. She is considered a leading theologian, having written extensively on women theologians and mystics, religious dialogue, classical texts, contemporary ethical issues, and contemplative practices. Her teaching and research interests include women theologians, Buddhist-Christian dialogue, spirituality and social justice, classical texts, and contemplative practices. She has authored  Tragic Vision and Divine Compassion: A Contemporary Theodicy (Westminster John Knox, 1990), Eros for the Other: Retaining Truth in a Pluralistic World (Penn State: 1996), The Wounding and Healing of Desire: Weaving Heaven and Earth (Westminster John Knox), Gathering Those Driven Away: a Theology of Incarnation (Westminster John Knox, 2011), and her latest book, The Thirst of God: Contemplating God’s Love with Three Women Mystics (Westminster John Knox, 2015), explores the spirituality of medieval mystics Marguerite Porete, Mechthild of Magdeburg, and Julian of Norwich.

Theme:  Ancestors of our Faith: Poetry & Women’s Power in Cross-cultural Perspective.

Finding God in the Questions

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Special Guest: The Rev. Dr. Judy Siker

When: February 24 - March 1, 2019

Where: Serra Retreat Center, Malibu, Califonia

Judy Yates Siker, Ph.D. was most recently visiting professor of New Testament & Christian Origins at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Prior to this, Dr. Siker was at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, serving as Vice President and Professor of New Testament at San Francisco Theological Seminary and Dean and Associate Professor of New Testament at the American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, CA.

Dr. Siker has also taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Meredith College, in Raleigh, North Carolina; and the Loyola Chicago Rome Center, Rome, Italy. Her teaching includes classes in the field of New Testament and Christian Origins and in biblical languages. Her current research interests are in the areas of “anti-Semitism” in the New Testament (with a special focus on identity theory and first-century Jewish/Christian relations), the history of interpretation of the Gospel of Matthew, and rethinking women’s stories in the New Testament.

Description — Today we seldom have to live more than a few moments with unanswered questions. We all simply "Google it."  In this fast-paced, technologically advanced world of ours, we have lost the ability to live in the questions. But as the poet Rilke once wrote, it is important sometimes to "try to love the questions" and to "live the questions now."

Tahoe 2018 with Dr. Lisa Fulham

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Special Guest: Lisa Fullam

When: August 5-10, 2018

Where: Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center, Lake Tahoe, NV

Lisa Fullam is Associate Professor of Moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University. A 1990 graduate of the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, she received her Th.D. in 2001 from Harvard Divinity School. Her research interests include the intersection of ethics and spirituality, and Ignatian spirituality. Her published works include: The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic and these articles: “Virtue Ethics in Spiritual Guidance,” “From Discord to Virtues: Reframing Sexual Ethics,” "Bioethics and Public Policy" (with William R. O’Neill, S.J.) “Humility, a Pilgrim’s Virtue,” “Why Ordination Matters: A Reflection from Jamaica,” and “Juana, S.J. The History (and Future?) of Women in the Society of Jesus.”

In 2008, she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. The view from the top is just glorious! She is married to John Mabry and has been our speaker at previous Companions Retreats.

Description: God calls everybody into closer relationship with God; God calls everybody to work for social justice. In this retreat, we’ll explore the interconnection of work for social justice with some of the great Christian mystics, in the contexts of four great liberatory movements: environmental justice, feminism, racial justice, and LGBTQ justice. In each, we’ll explore the insight of a Christian mystic, and then consider the contemporary challenge. The aim is personal: how are WE called into the transformation of the world and into the mysticism that sustains it?