“May you sink into the seamless world of uninterrupted time where the endless hours allow something to grow from nothing.”
– Joan Anderson
I have a strong belief in the need for retreating no matter what age or stage you are in. “If it is a woman’s role to nurture,” as Anne Lindbergh suggested, “then she must nourish herself.” Indeed, I found as a result of my year by the sea that selfhood begins by taking oneself away.
In a desire for destiny and a call to the challenge of knowing oneself, a woman can move from chaos to clarity by walking the quiet roads of retreat. Going from being soulfully dead to spiritually alive, she takes up the work of a pilgrim. Often physically and emotionally taxing, a woman’s quest can result in a humbling and transformative rite of passage. It has been said that the making of a heroine commences when a woman seizes her life and becomes self-directed. Indeed, “in every life, no matter how dull or ineffectual, “says Celtic philosopher, John O’Donohue, “something eternal is happening.”
A retreat can breathe new life into a woman, for there is something in each of us that listens for the sound of the genuine within.
Think about where you might go each day or once a week—a quiet, soothing place where there is limited interruption. Would it be under a tree in your backyard, a bike or hiking trail, a church, a park bench, along the shoreline, beside a babbling brook, in a meadow, or on a hilltop. The object is to live wholly and not to reach for some otherness, but rather to penetrate deeply into each hour, moment, season, or place.
To retreat is to give yourself time for self reflection, a chance to honor who you were and who you could be, a time of self indulgence. As part of your retreat plan make sure to have fun—with a glass of fine wine, lunch with a friend, a massage, buying fresh flowers. It’s not just about self improvement—it’s about being complete.
During these next few weeks be prepared to take action, find time for contemplation, designate sacred space, and become attuned to senses. All will conspire to create a shift in who and what you are becoming.
The Fourth of July holiday is behind us. I can already sense the sound of less traffic and a sense of calm in the air. So many tourists, intent upon squeezing every bit of seaside juice out of their time here, bring an element of intensity that feels like the city, stamping out the tranquil ambience those of us who live here, crave.
It is already hot and I am filled with heavy thoughts that make me not want to greet the day. Instead of pushing them away, I meander down to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, choose carefully from my mug collection, and am now sipping coffee on the side porch where a breeze has miraculously found its way up to our house from the sea.
The house is still, making it easier to hear a symphony of birds tweeting from the bushes and trees that dot our property. In an effort to clear my head and let the possibility of positive thought invade my being I hold onto a crystal given to me after a healing massage and begin to whisper…may I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be free from suffering and then wishing the same for others that I know and love. A calm overtakes me and my early morning malaise begins to lift. The word DELIBERATE comes to mind…which to me means acting with a full consciousness…carefully considering how I CAN be rather than letting myself be pulled here or there by the whim of another, the news, the mood of the times, whatever.
I have a favorite quote by T.S.Eliot that hangs in my office: “Human kind cannot bear very much reality.” I cannot bear the bad news coming from my children or the horror stories that permeate the media. I can however, be embellished by that which is in front of my face…the sea, the dunes, the flowers, the fresh air and revel in simple existence. It only takes being deliberate with my intentions to go from the dark to the light.
What, Joan Anderson is joining the world of blogs? Could it be that someone who is electronically phobic could really be doing such a thing?
The truth is that I have had writer’s block for some time now. My mind sort of went numb when my then new publisher signed me on with bells and cymbals and then mysteriously left me dangling…a feeling not unlike being dumped by a lover. For sure my creative side went dead as I tried feverishly to fix it or figure it out. Alas, there were no answers or explanations forth coming and besides, I was soon consumed with the gradual failing of my dear mother’s health. As I hobbled around on a crutch as she slowly began leaving this earth there was hardly time ti fix my bad knee. Holistic approaches did nothing to help and so, after she died I submitted to knee replacement. The surgeon was great but the drugs further dulled by brain as well as my spirit. In time, I surfaced, almost as good as new, until the news came that one of our children was getting a divorce.
Enough, already, I said to self. I could continue reacting to life or get on top of it and once again become proactive. Choosing the latter, I decided the only way to reach out and touch the positive forces in my life would be to start blogging…talking about what was on my chest and getting reaction. And so beginning July 4th I will be at this site twice a week to begin again. As Joan Erikson said to me: “The only person who will sponsor yourself is yourself.”