Monastery weekend with art and dialogue thanks to the Kerk en Wereld grant

Looking for the meaning of your life together. On the initiative of Dialogue Matters, a group of young women from different backgrounds met during a monastery weekend in Huissen. It became a journey through the past, blockages and wishes for the future, made possible by a grant from Kerk en Wereld, foundation within the Protestant Church.

Healing through painting

As a young woman lays out her clothes and begins the afternoon prayer, a few others trickle in with their bags. “It takes a while to look east here,” says a Muslim woman who enters the monastery’s upper floor somewhat disoriented. The retreat weekend with Exposition of Meaning in the Dominican monastery Huissen has started. “The dedication and the humor are the first things that strike me,” says Christianne Holwerda, who is attending the weekend on behalf of the Kerk en Wereld Foundation.

From person to person

At the end of October, eleven young women and counselors Agnes van der Sluijs and Saida Franken came together to search for the meaning of their lives. Hindus, Christians, Muslim women and an agnostic are represented this weekend. Agnes: “We try to live for a life that enriches diversity and that you can meet each other from person to person across the borders of religion.” Using the four elements, Agnes and Saida take the participants on a journey through their past, blockages and wishes for the future.

Water: which blocks can flood

Saida: “Life can flow, but there can also be blockages that make you stand still or even overflow.” During the first exercise, we get two big dots that symbolize where it flows and where it doesn’t flow in our lives. In groups of two we name our ‘flow’ and the things that hinder us. After lunch we make a painting in a studio filled with paint and other art objects, visualizing what flows and what doesn’t flow inside. Saida: “Instead of telling your whole life story, you can show pieces of yourself in your art. Then it undergoes an evolution.” And indeed: by getting started, we automatically start a conversation about the symbolism behind the colors and shapes.The moment you transfer wounds from your heart to paper, a kind of healing occurs.

The Earth: a deeply rooted pattern

If you are grounded, you can look at things. Then you suddenly see a deeply rooted pattern that has arisen in previous generations. “Trauma can be transferred, where the burdens you carry are greater than yours,” Saida explains. This time we are placed in pairs facing each other and we look into each other’s eyes for a few minutes. Agnes encourages us to look beyond the person in front of us. “Try to see the generations behind her, how is the other grounded?” This experience provides a fine basis for conversations during a walk through the beautiful nature. We have conversations about faith, relationships, future and past. It’s nice to see how we differ so much from each other and at the same time are so similar.

Fire: gives meaning to your passion

Time for a lesson in expression. We all recognize the basic emotions such as fear, sadness, anger and joy, but in everyday life we ​​don’t always dare to show it. Saida: “We tend to speak without expression. The moment you show these emotions, you can also let them go. There’s something stuck inside that needs to be released. And it can eat you if you hold it.”

Air: capturing the essence in words

Everyone is full of new insights about themselves as individuals and about relationships with others. We close Sunday afternoon with an exercise to express the essence of this weekend in a few sentences. We listen to each other’s words and look at the works of art produced. One participant with an impressive history of recurrent rejection arrives at a beautiful core that resonates with many of us: ‘My self-worth is not determined by the fear of rejection’.

Setback as a teacher

The encouraging words from Agnes and Saida formed the common thread throughout the weekend. Saida: “You have the tools within yourself to move forward. To heal yourself. The bumps that are left, that doesn’t change. But dare to look at it more and more and see that it’s a gift. Any setback is a gift and a teacher: it tells you something for the benefit of your growth.”

Grants through the Church and the World Foundation

In the project’s activities Exhibition of opinion participants search for the meaning of their lives through art and dialogue. Agnes and Saida organize activities for different target groups. This initiative is one of the three winners of the 2022 tender of Kerk en Wereld. This foundation within the Protestant Church grants grants to initiatives that bring people in the Netherlands – regardless of faith, color or background – into contact with each other based on Christian inspiration. Also an interesting project? Check whether you can apply for a grant from the Kerk en Wereld Foundation via

Youth Award

In 2023, Kerk en Wereld will once again award the Youth Prize to young people or youth organizations who want to contribute to a better world with their project. Eleven initiatives have a chance to win one of the cash prizes. Learn more about how to get involved

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