The Center is run by an order of Dominican Sisters, and are some of the most loving souls I have ever met. They told us they just loved our group. We chatted with some of them and they told us that they hold all retreatants in their prayers so that each person will get that which they came to receive. The sisters there create an astonishing atmosphere in which one can truly feel loved and honored.
The theme of the retreat was "Womb to Womb" and it explored the continuous cycle of life and death. So it was especially poignant for me as I was celebrating my birthday while on retreat.
From the window of my room, I could see and hear Mighty Lake Michigan. The waves were wondrous as they crashed onto the shoreline.
There were two presenters: Joanna Powell Colbert and Nora Cedarwind Young. Joanna is a friend and sister priestess and also the creatrix of the Gaian Tarot.
Nora's presentation on home funerals and green burials was powerful and enlightening. She midwife's the end of life. Nora is a Gem of rare quality. Her presence illuminated the entire room. You can find out more about Nora at Thresholds of Life.
Joanna's presentation was so much fun and very educational. Joanna is a wonderful teacher and she and Nora both made the time fairly fly! AND I got to see a prototype of the Gaian Tarot. It is magnificent! Joanna had some tarot exercises for us to do in her presentation and what came up for me was dead on. It gave me much to think about.
Joanna's questions were three:
As I pulled each card they spoke to me of life and death, waxing and waning, mountains and valleys, growing and receding, and their message was clear--be in the moment. Live with intention.
Our main ritual was Saturday evening. We all dressed in our best Goddess clothes, created sacred space and split into groups of four. In these groups we gathered close together and simulated the birthing process with grunts and groans; swaying and holding each close. Then we were led to the basement and thru the tunnel (simulating the birth canal) into a large room where we walked the labyrinth. The labyrinth, for me, is a most sacred ritual--it is a walking meditation that brings me so close to the Great Mother it is like being inside Her.
There was magic afoot at our retreat. As Angie said, they created the container for our magic, but we as a group filled it up to overflowing.
There was much to think about on the 6-hour drive home and my friend and I were thankful for each other's company. We talked and pondered and sat in silence; and then talked and pondered and sat in silence again. As we made our way home, the beautiful full moon was rising--full of love and light, hopes and dreams, passions and possibilities--A birth of a new cycle.
I had today off, and as I was driving to meet a friend for my birthday lunch, I was thinking of how I was going to lunch to celebrate life--my life, my birthday. As I came to the stop sign, there was a funeral procession going by on the cross street in front of me. There was a moment of altered time and space--like the cars were going in slow motion, and the motorcycle escort stopped and held up his hand for me to stop and his eyes locked with mine as if to say STOP and live life in the moment--all in slow motion. There we were--me on my way to celebrate life and those folks on their way to witness death--our paths intersecting for one brief breath of time--and in that moment I realized that every day is a birth-day. Every day we get to birth our reality, our dreams, our hopes, our successes, our failures, our lives, one day at a time.
Ever since I read the wise words of Lunaea Weatherstone, my dear friend, mentor, and Grove Mother of the Sisterhood of the Silver Branch about being in the moment, I have strived to do just that. But today, that phrase came alive and means more to me that it ever has or probably ever will. The image of that funeral procession and the motorcycle escort is burned into my mind's eye. A moment of time out of time.
And so my friend I wish you a happy birth-day, today and every day.
In humble service, Rue