Cold brass of the handle meets my hand. I open the turquoise trimmed door. Once inside the scent of Sophia’s cooking greets me. I enter this familiar place of warmth. Women Writing to Unfold Retreat is held here, at Mabel Dodge Luhan’s House in Taos, New Mexico. A circle of women and I gather every year in late August.
Retreats are a great place to clarify what has real meaning for our life. We let go of regular routines. We step away from relationships. We pay attention to our inner life. In some ways the pandemic has created a similar environment. Our normal patterns have been disrupted. Contact with friends and family has been altered. Ironically. both a retreat and the pandemic offer fertile ground to do some soul-searching.
COVID-19 pushes us to appraise what we value. That is the role of a crisis. We sort through what we truly need and identify what is unnecessary. Look over the past difficult situations that you faced. Didn’t it cause you to redefine what has actual meaning? You may have then reflected on these questions…Am I living the life I want to live? Does my life have meaning? What is my soul’s purpose?
A crisis is a time for values clarification.
Many teachers tell us that it is meaning not happiness that we seek. I agree. Psychiatrist Carl Jung taught this also. He said, “The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.”
How do we discover what brings substance to our lives?
Longing and meaning are intricately connected. What we ache for connects to what we seek. Failing to consider our longing disconnects us from our authentic self. What brings us meaning is lost. When we are asked what we want we are unclear.
Where to start?
Begin a dialogue with your longing. This is a process I have used with clients and in retreats. It is based on the book She Just Wants by author. Beverly Rollwagen. She offers an exploratory writing prompt. Each sentence begins with this phrase, “She just wants. For some reason, asking this of ourselves in the third person is helpful. We can step away from our everyday world and discover what it is we truly desire. Try it. Begin by writing and responding without stopping for five to ten minutes.
There are places in each of us that calls for our return. Listen for your longing. It might lead you to a class, a book or a retreat. You may hear yourself announcing your new plans as you tell a friend what is next for you. Only you can discover and define what brings meaning to your life.
She just wants…
You might be surprised where it takes you.
For now I’ve pulled the door closed on Mabel‘s house. Packed my belongings. Started my journey home. Goddess willing and the Covid don’t rise, we will return next August. A different circle of women will gather. We will leave behind life as as we know it. We’ll tap into the heartbeat of this mysterious place. We will listen carefully for our soul’s song.