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]
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."
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.
Today is a day to do last minute errands, to put a vacation message on my email and to do the same on my phone. This afternoon, Nancy and I will have to figure out how to fit our suitcases and all the materials I like to bring to retreats in a car far smaller than the big old Mommy van Karyn and I finally unloaded this fall. I'll be getting a necklace repaired, my car washed, paying a few last bills. So I do have some things to check off my list--not of them essential, all optional--and we already had a magnificent walk to the beach this morning. After dinner, we'll probably kick back and watch a movie at home tonight. I like to have a day of rest before I teach a big retreat so I come into the space feeling refreshed and grounded. Now the preparatory phase is over and I eagerly ... [Continue Reading]