Retreat Day Three
We are at peace. We are together. We are at home here.
There are two pairs of little dogs who accompany two of the staff. We are told that one pair is a yappy handful at home, barking at all comers, begging for food and attention, intrusive and energetic. Here they are mellow, glad to make friends if approached, but otherwise completely self-contained. It must be contagious.
Yesterday was a second day of wonder. We began with gentle yoga, designed for those of us who are not as young and supple as we once were. Then breakfast, followed by more than two hours of sitting in a sacred circle. In that space, we opened our hearts and our souls to each other and to the universe, secure in the blessing of absolute trust and acceptance. A perfect, absolutely perfect lunch followed: home made tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, and, so we could feel virtuous, kale salad.
After lunch, we had a journaling session that evolved into something much greater. The three prompts were: "Hope is a vital organ", "If I had a second chance", and "When I am afraid". As you likely know, the rules of this kind of meeting are to write whatever flows, no need to edit, and no need to share anything. When everyone had laid down her pen, we began to talk. First, we talked about what we had written (not everyone shared, but most did), and then we talked about the very hardest things: death and dying and pain and burial and cremation and fear. In this space, in this moment, these words were tenderly held, and "Be not afraid" became real.
Here is a lovely poem that Tracy wrote about "Hope is a vital organ":
like a kidney, tossing out toxic thoughts
like a heart, pumping precious fluids of vitality
like a brain, guiding our thoughts and actions
like lung, breathing positive thoughts through the body
and like the skin, holding me together
We moved on to wine and appetizers while some of us joined another yoga session. Dinner followed, and then about half of us participated in a weekly community service and meditation. I was one of those participants, and was very moved by the experience. What has been a blessed circle of our group effortlessly expanded to include in the others in the room. Their hearts held ours, and we are all enlarged by the communion. One man spoke of trying to understand the essence of all things, recognizing that essence is both what is reflected out and what comes back. That seems to be a very apt description of what we have been experiencing here together. Each of us, filled to the brim and overflowing, has offered the universe what we carry within--and has been rewarded in turn with others' reflections.
This morning there is not gentle snow--although there was a bit overnight, as the cars carry a dusting of white. We are moving slowly from deep sleeps to quiet tea or coffee to a boisterous breakfast . We will again sit in circle and, after lunch, must return to our lives. Today we will talk about how to carry home some of what we have shared here.
We are cradled and blessed and safe, knowing that we shelter those feelings within, but also take them from each other. We, together, are a very small spot in this vast universe and are also a universe unto ourselves. I am grateful.
3/11/2014 10:20 PM
Thank you for these beautiful writings. Reading them in a quiet space tonight, I feel a tiny bit less alone, as though I partook in some of the love and support all of you created together. I wrote down the prompts, and will create my own meditative space to write too. Much gratitude for the work you do.