It takes 3 hours to drive to Commonweal from my front door. It’s a beautiful drive really and Nancy and I alternated between talk and silence on the road heading up here. But every time I turn onto Mesa Road, where a huge bow of eucalyptus line the road, I go silent. That last mile to Commonweal means we are entering sacred turf and I can feel it in the air. There is something wild and vast and embracing about the land and the wind and the ocean here and just as the workshop participants go through a change as they approach the start of the retreat, so do I.
Much of today was spent writing stories of grief and bearing witness to each other. In the morning, Nancy talked about the difference between grieving and mourning, a distinction I hadn't really understood myself. I've always considered them synonyms. Grieving is our own private experience of loss, the way we experience it in our own bodies and minds and spirits. Mourning is the experience of sharing that grief in a public way with the larger community. Having your grief held, witnessed and met in a public way is a critical part of healing and moving through grief, though in our culture there is little of that public sharing of grief beyond the initial rituals of the funeral or memorial service. After that people grieving are left to founder on their own or to "get over it."
This morning at 7 AM, I asked Nancy and David to meet me in my room. The question on the table, "What do people need this morning? What do they need today?" We looked over the plan Nancy and I had made last week and threw most of it away. It was too much. It had become irrelevant. Our original plan no longer met the group where they were or would take them where they needed to go. And so we regrouped. We simplified--vastly simplified our original plan. We pulled things from other parts of our agenda. We tossed around some new ideas. David came up with an idea for a movement exercise. Twenty-five minutes after we sat down together, we had the skeleton of a new plan. I felt so grateful to them for being part of this team--for helping me evaluate, assess, feel into what is needed. Above ... [Continue Reading]
We are at the heart of this retreat--the time when the writing gets real and down to the bone, when true words are spoken, when risks are taken, bonds formed, when we become a living, breathing creative community. We are tracking each other hour by hour. Laughing and crying and hiking and eating and writing together. Every day, I see breakthroughs and breakdowns. Everywhere I walk, people are writing and reading, engaged and connected. And when they're not writing and reading, they're outdoors, savoring the glorious sunny/windy majesty of Bolinas, nature absorbing the intensity of the words that have been written and spoken. At this point in the retreat we are ending our focus on uncertainty. Every transformation includes a time of uncertainty, limbo, unsteady ground. We leave behind ... [Continue Reading]