Family Cell Picnic 2023
The long delayed, long deferred, much awaited Family Cell picnic was finally under way, thanks to the persistence and insistence of one member of the Family Cell. Contributions were collected, train tickets were bought and reservations were made. On 22nd April,2023, twenty-two members of the Family Cell of St. Michael’s Parish met at Dadar station at 7. 00 am. It was a mixed crowd of couples and entire families. Everyone of us had a three pronged objectives in mind : 1. To learn as much as we could, 2.To help one another as much as we could and 3. To enjoy ourselves as much as we could. Objective number 2 was accomplished straightaway, because from the very 'get-go', the youngsters, and able bodied members of the group were helping the not-so-young-in-age, but young-at-heart and adventurous-in-spirit. They were being helped with their luggage and in boarding and alighting on to and from very high platforms.
The venue chosen was: Convent of Jesus and Mary, Nuns Hill, Khandala. There couldn’t have been a better choice of a more spectacular venue , in every sense of the word. The convent was clean and well maintained, with airy, spacious and comfortable rooms, a large meeting hall , a beautiful chapel and a variety of well chosen, delicious dishes at meal times.
After a late breakfast on arrival at the convent , and a brief period of rest, the stage was set for objective number 3 to be fulfilled : to enjoy ourselves as much as we could. Strange as it may seem, the cooks of the convent provided us with the overture of the opera, or rather, the starting point of the games. They served us coffee … or was it tea? Or a mixture of both? It wasn't very clearly distinguishable either from looks or taste. The result? There ensued a debate among various members as to what it really was, - a discussion worthy of taking its place in the studios of 'Times Now' This helped Fr. Ashwin, our Spiritual Director split us right down the middle , and divided us into two groups : Coffee and Tea. What followed was a healthy competition between the two teams, right from choosing a name for the team, to composing slogans and jingles, in order to highlight the various characteristics of tea and coffee. All the members of both teams participated wholeheartedly and vociferously , to bring out their one-upmanship, yet in complete sportsmanship.
A post-lunch and post-siesta session heralded a long walk in the surrounding country-side, which turned out to be a trek over rough and stony terrain. It was very heartening to see almost all the members of the Family Cell, from the youth to people post- retirement , undertaking this arduous and occasionally uphill walk. The walk ended in scaling a wall , which was successfully accomplished by everyone. Objective no. 2 was fully in operation, with every member going all out to help the other. It was most definitely: "All for each and each for all."
The post-dinner session brought in even more rollicking entertainment. The traditional "dumb charades" was replaced by an innovative "bum charades". The title is self- explanatory. The theme chosen was: nursery rhymes. Each team was to send out one member, who would be given a nursery rhyme which had to be enacted before his / her team members, using no other part of the body except the rear end. The rest of the team was supposed to guess the nursery rhyme from the acting out by his / her team mate. The correct nursery rhyme was then to be recited in unison by all the members of the respective team. The result ? There were bellies protruding, and posteriors protruding, gyrating, trembling, quivering, expanding, contracting, with only one focus : to help his / her teammates guess the nursery rhyme . This was interspersed with quips like “the nursery rhyme has to be sung with the mouth”. The side- splitting guffaws of uncontrollable laughter can well be imagined. A session of music and dancing brought down the curtains on the first day of the picnic.
Seeing that objective number 1 : to learn as much as we could, was still to be executed, day 2 of the picnic gave way to more serious stuff. Fr. Ashwin shared with both teams a story bringing out the differences between bees and spiders . Bees are outgoing, fun-loving, giving, caring, creatures spreading joy and happiness. Spiders on the other hand are introverts, self-centred ,self sufficient and trying to trap other helpless insects into their web. Through group discussions and questionnaires of self-evaluation, we were all helped to grade ourselves and discover whether we are bee-like people, or thinkers, organisers or caring people, with a mental note that each one made on areas of our lives that needed improvement. The Eucharist , celebrated on both days by Fr. Ashwin was very meaningful, with every member of the Family Cell being urged to forget himself / herself and pray for the person seated to the right and the left. The gospel passage of Sunday which spoke of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus and their encounter with the Risen Lord was discussed by couples and families. The regular homily was replaced by couples and families sharing the insights they had got during their discussions and future course of action planned. The insights were indeed deep and soul- stirring, thus amply proving that God’s Word is indeed “ alive and active’.
After tea, there was a sharing once again of what had most appealed to us or touched our hearts. This was followed by one last and final activity where each couple had to write out some heartfelt loving words to his or her spouse and hand it over to him / her. This was followed by. Fr. Ashwin’s instruction to open that paper and read the message in it the next time we had a fight. That parting injunction was not the only thing we carried away in our hearts. We also carried the memory of an unforgettable picnic.