Last week on retreat "Awakening the Creative Spirit: Experiential Education for Spiritual Directors in the Expressive Arts" with 11 other women (2 were facilitators), I had an extraordinary experience. If you happen to visit here at MindSieve in the near future, you'll possibly be receiving reflections upon these 5 powerful days!
First of all, no, I am NOT a practicing spiritual director nor were many of the gathered women. I came as this event had been recommended to me by a friend whose judgment I valued. I came for the "expressive arts" part and for the "awakening the creative spirit" part, and I suspect, because I was called to this event by a presence greater than that of my worldly friends.
Two amazing leaders led the gathered group through contemplative, expressive arts experiences that I would have perhaps questioned if I had seen the curriculum plan in detail. When in our first gathering, a drum - yeah, a drum - came out to accompany an opening chant - yeah chant - I wondered if I had stumbled into a "new age" event of the '90's. The answer to that is NO, I had not. From the first beat of that evening to the last reflection times together on Friday, I was transported from my present being to reflections on joys and disappointments of my personal childhood, to holy moments of Scripture sharing, of hesitant moments of body stretching, shaping, dancing, and song. I found that a lot of my "I don't likes" are actually "I'm shy about that" and "I've never been good at that." I found moments of grace remembering WHY I thought I was not good or didn't like something, turning those anxieties into, "Oh, my goodness, what was I thinking? Why did I ever give that up or never even try it?"
The week was an exhilarating, life-changing experience. If I had the wherewithal, I'd gift every friend that I have with it. The facilitators were kind enough not to "pass the plate" and ask for more compensation as some things in life have no price - they can only be offered and hopefully accepted. Like what? you might ask. My face and my toes in the warm grass, my giggles into loud guffaws when the somersaults and rolling began, my heartbeat raised in jubilation at the sound of women in song, the sound of percussion instruments of all kinds being shared and turned to rhythms and music. The sometimes quiet, sometimes loud weeping of hearts truly sharing. The beauty of poetry from those who claimed to never have written it nor even read much of it themselves. The stillness of my own breathing - deep enough to resemble sleep - but present enough to only be.
There will be more reflection - but I ask you to consider for your own self and well-being - when was the last time you took yourself "out" of your everyday living to truly contemplate what makes your life sing, or if your life has stopped singing, why? Maybe 5 days is too long, too much for now. But maybe two days or three..........are you being called to some place you'd rather not go, you never could, you'll never try, and it's too selfish and lavish a gift to give yourself anyway?
The blessing of this retreat, maybe not this exact one but another, is not too "silly to contemplate" for yourself. It is a priceless gift that I was called to accept for myself. Are you being called to know more of what makes you sing or "used to make you sing?" Listen for the call and go for it!
Photo - Sunrise Sister's view from St. Andrew's Retreat House - Hood Canal, WA