Commonweal, June 2007, part 8

This morning we were back with Lenore. Our subject was sex, something few of us have safe places to talk about with complete honesty. Lenore modeled candor and openness for us to follow, sharing her creativity responding to sexual changes brought about by aging and her husband’s cancer. She said, “When illness and aging affect your sexuality, you work with what’s possible and you make that the sweetest thing. The important thing is staying in relationship with your own sexual vitality.”

Since my sex life is not what I want it to be, I usually approach this topic with shame and silence. This time, I welcomed the opportunity to say what was true in my life, without apology or shame, to just state the truth, to acknowledge the gap between where I am sexually and where I want to be. It was liberating to name it, to claim it and to affirm that I can reclaim my own sexual feelings as my birthright as a sexual being.

Others shared in equally intimate ways; by now our group is ready to hold and contain anything one of us has the courage to say.

After our sex talk, Lenore taught us a very simple Hungarian dance that ended with us embracing which ever one of us was in the center of the circle at that time. It was very intimate and loving tableau we created, with many tears all around.

We had boxed lunches today, some kind of mushroom burgers and cups of fresh gazpacho. A few of us headed out for the rough path down to the beach, but by the time we got there, it was so windy, we found a bluff and ate, and then headed back.

I had my third massage and then some bodywork today. In our pre-dinner yoga session, we had a healing circle. Kate and the rest of us sat in backjacks in a circle. She introduced what we were going to do: “This ritual is based on the commonly held belief that we can benefit by others’ healing thoughts and prayers. We will focus our intention and attention on each member of the group in turn, and we will do so silently.”

So in turn, each of us called out our name and the group sent loving kindness and prayers for each member, based on all the sharing and hopes and challenges each of us face. After a few minutes, Kate would ring the bell, and the next person would state their name. The silent focus would grow to a crescendo again. I had a clear healing image for each member of the group as we went around and for each I said the Buddhist Metta prayer: May she be happy. May she be at peace. May she be healthy. May she be free.

We did the same for Kate, then for all the staff at the retreat, and then for everyone who supported us in coming here, known and unknown.

After a period of silence, Kate said, “Every full moon, think of each other. Everyone in this circle and your hopes for each of them.”

Afterwards we went around and described our experience with the healing circle:

·      “”What choice do we have but to stand up and let God work.”

·      “”I’m not a fairy Godmother. I can’t grant you all your wishes. I can’t imagine giving you anything but a whole lot of love.”

·      “”I felt waves of fierce love penetrating my body.”

·      “”I felt an enormous amount of compassion in this room. I feel honored to be on this journey with you.”

We ended with a song. Then we went in and ate fresh cracked crab, a tofu stir fry, a huge green salad with fresh tomatoes and red peppercorns, roasted potatoes and blueberries and peaches for desert.


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