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VIA students walking the street_edited.j


Street Retreats?

Street Retreats are foundational for us. In the early days, we asked ourselves how do we introduce the people we meet to what it means to be present in a neighborhood like the Tenderloin. So many places around the world carry a similar burden. We project onto the people and streets myths about poverty and all that goes with it. 

Each year we hold numerous one-day retreats and most years we hold a seven-day retreat in which we spend 7 days and 6 nights on the streets. Here are pictures to give you a sense of what we experience.

We Discover on the Streets

Our Common Humanity

One day retreats

We begin a Street Retreat in a circle introducing ourselves and sharing what has brought each one to the retreat. We discuss our hopes and expectations, as well as the rhythm of the day. Then we set out onto the streets. There is nothing that anyone must or should do except trust that they will be led to that which is theirs to encounter in the day. Later in the day, we come back together to share our experiences and we close by sharing soup and bread.

Seven day retreats

On seven-day retreats, we experience the streets as a retreat center. While the environment is very different from retreat centers in the midst of trees or at the ocean, we find the streets encourage us to reflect upon our lives and humanity. Without meetings to attend or cell phones demanding our immediate attention, we enter the "sabbatical" space that lets us slow down and reflect upon the deeper questions of our lives.

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