Post by Rev. Lucy Bunch, Spiritual Director
Many retreatants come to Spiritrest with a specific idea of something they want to contemplate or process. There is certainly tremendous opportunity for this kind of retreat with workshops and spiritual direction, as well as personal time for solitude.
But this year I came to SpiritRest with the goal of resting. Of course I have responsibilities as one of the spiritual directors and workshop leaders, but otherwise I have been resting. It has been a hard year and I am quite worn down, struggling to find joy in my work, to find joy in anything.
So I have been sleeping a lot, and when I am not leading or meeting, doing quite a bit of nothing. You might even say I’ve been moping a bit, hoping to find my way back to joy, but not really committed to the process.
But the Great Mother had other ideas for me. She has put on quite a show to lift my spirits. Her first gift was the spider web. I was sitting in a chair rocking (one of our settling practices) and maybe moping at bit, when I saw it. It was so magnificent I gasped. Hanging between two trees, its intricate design was captured in the sunlight.
The nest day her gift was a bunny, and not just any bunny, but an adorable one with a white cotton tail. I was eating breakfast outside, minding my own business, when it hopped on over. Generally, my experience with bunnies is that they scurry away when they see people. Not this one – it paused right in front of me and posed, as if for my benefit. Who can resist the charm of a bunny? I didn’t even try.
The next evening, it was a racoon. I had never seen one that close. It was nighttime and most people had gone to bed. He was perched on the edge of the garbage can rummaging through the contents. He looked up – our eyes met. It was startling and amazing.
Then this morning, coming down the stairs after breakfast, there was a peacock standing there in all its its strutting glory. I had just been reading a story about a peacock the night before! The blue of his feathers was so incredibly beautiful it startled me – again. I felt a wry amusement and said a quick prayer – OK Mother Spirit, I get it, I feel it. You have startled me into joy with these gifts of beauty. You have helped me to remember, to take in and connect with your gifts.
It is our last full day of retreat and right now, those who choose are attending a workshop titled “Reflect, Release, Integrate and Ground.” That pretty much sums up the task for this day. We have deepened in our time here; hearts are open, and spirits are engaged. But we are also holding the awareness that tomorrow we will be going back to the real world, the one where people talk (al lot!), where there is traffic, and laundry, and people or projects that will take our time and energy. And so we savor this last day, and consider what we want to take with us from this experience. I have learned to be more present with the beauty that is right before my eyes, to pause and take delight. I know I don’t have to go to a retreat center to find this beauty, it is everywhere on our wonderful planet. But I did have to come to SpiritRest to remind myself to stop, to look, and to take joy and delight in the beauty that was waiting for me. Thank you Great Mother for your blessings.