A decade ago Don and I met with Father Cory of All Saints Church in Saugatuck. The three of us sat in that beautiful treetop room. We explored how I might use the church’s retreat house for my programs. That talk led to a nearly a decade of programs. The treetop room became our circle room.
The house was a safe nest. A strong nest. Still there were challenges. We faced a broken furnace, plumbing issues, and much more. It was a funky, shabby and an all-around soulful place. Not too precious to keep us from embracing our own beauty and brokenness.
There were many firsts. For most if not all, they experienced sustained intentional silence for the first time. That delicious dropping in practice that brings us face to face with ourselves and the Divine. We wrote. We risked sharing our words with each other. Often reading with shaking legs and voices. So much happened within those walls. We did find our voices. Made dreams realities. We faced broken hearts, loss of loved ones. We found courage to risk loving again. We had breakdowns in communication and breakthroughs that shook us to the core. We had the whole catastrophe, as Zorba the Greek would say.
The house is no longer available.
I am sorting through a mixture of feelings about this goodbye. Endings offer a time for reflections. Sometimes we are so busy in the process of living that we fail to recognize the magic that is occurring. Someday we will look back and see the very place where we are right now is filled with wonder.
There are so many who brought depth and meaning to the retreats there. Too many to list all but here a few; Mary, Lisa and Stacey who assisted me, wonderful women who placed their hearts in our hands, yoga teachers, and eventually the talented Teresa of Satya Yoga, fabulous caterers, massage therapists, movement teachers and so many more. And Father Cory who held our work with respect and care. Please know if you name is not here, I am thinking of you.
Goodbyes are more present for me at age seventy-five than they once were. Yet no matter our age, goodbyes are important to consider. They are times to; slow down, drop in, and dare to feel all that we can about what is changing. How can we greet anything new if we have not said a proper goodbye to what was once there?
The plans for this year’s spring retreat were already in place. I chose the date, secured the caterer, picked out the menu, and posted my flyer. I did not doubt we’d return.
Often, we do not control when things end.
Sitting there with Father Cory a decade ago, it was clear the house would serve us well. I knew it in my bones. What I didn’t know was how it would end. And though endings are often out of our hands, we can choose how we respond. We can recognize, honor and celebrate what once was. We might even see what we received with clearer eyes as we say goodbye.
When the myth that “this” will go on forever lifts, we can embrace each moment with great love.
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- 2023 Women Writing to Unfold (Taos, NM)
- 21 Aug 23