June 23, 2019

Lessons from a Retreat

Recently, I had a transformative experience. At the risk of sounding cliche, I’d call it life changing because not only did it bless me with a new level of insight, it offered a much needed course correction.

The experience was a writers retreat the last weekend of May in St. Margaret’s, a rural village on the northeastern end of P.E.I. where I escaped daily life to join my writing coach and another sister writer for a long weekend of “simply being.”

It took me a day or so to wind down, but sitting out on the deck one evening, I felt relaxed and present. No doubt I was helped along by four Canada geese flying past so low I could hear the whoosh whoosh of their wings and a chorus of spring peepers chirping like jingling bells.

They say if you want to create, you need a full well. Mine was running dry, so rather than focus on output during my weekend away, I concentrated on input. This meant that I did little writing, choosing instead to read, chat and mellow out.

One afternoon, I took a long soak in a deep white bathtub filled with warm water, salt crystals and rose petals. Stretched out reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, while occasionally looking out the picture window at the ocean a few minutes’ walk away, I felt my mind begin to open.

Sensing my receptive state, the Divine took note. Seeing an opportunity, and knowing exactly what I needed to hear, she began to speak. It’s interesting how you can listen to advice and pay no attention. Then, at the right time, in the right place, and under the right circumstances, the same message can rock your world.

That’s what happened to me. The Divine didn’t reveal the secret of life or anything new for that matter. Her words were simple, and I’ve heard what she said many times before. The difference is that this time, I was ready to listen, to act, and therefore, it seemed like I was hearing all of this for the first time.

If you’re ready to listen, the voice of the Divine is clear and concise. She speaks Truth and therefore, has no need to use flowery language.

Here’s what she said.

Your purpose is clear. It was figured out long ago. Live the best way you know how. Do some good. Have some fun. Try to leave more positive than negative in your wake. It’s that simple. You have no need to “find yourself.” You are here. Right now. Live.

It’s not too late. You followed the crowd. You lived the way society said you should. Marriage, children, career. It wasn’t all bad. It wasn’t all good. Now it’s time to stop with the should haves. Listen closely. You know what’s important. You know what you want. Do it. Every day. It’s that simple.

Work to live. It’s not the other way around. Show up. Do a good job. That’s enough. There’s nothing to prove. No ladders to climb. There are a fixed number of hours to devote to earning a living. No more. No less.

Spend the rest of this short, fabulous life doing things that bring you joy. Cook. Bake. Garden. Craft. Write.

Be grateful. Life is hard. Life is easy. There is pain and suffering. There is pleasure and relief. You’ve known it all. It’s not over yet. Each experience contributes to the ever changing miracle that is you. Accept with open arms. This is your unique story. A gift.

Away from the hustle and bustle, I was attuned to this deeper source of loving wisdom, and as I relive this encounter with the Divine, I feel goosebumps (which I’m now referring to as truth bumps).

I also realized that the Divine has always been with me, especially during the times I felt most lost. It was then that she held space for me, waiting…patiently…for the time that everything would come together…on a writers retreat in May 2019.

I can’t end without mentioning one last piece of wisdom the Divine shared with me on that Saturday afternoon in the deep white bathtub: When you look beyond your false beliefs, past choices and attitudes – when you strip them all away – your true essence will reveal itself. With an open mind and open heart, welcome it.

(All photos were taken at my retreat.)