Here is a beautiful comment on saying goodbye: http://pullupachair.org/2013/08/23/the-sound-of-hollowed-out/
I continue to float in the after-effects of the retreat. I hadn't understood what it would be, that it would be organized, while also offering the freedom to choose. We each had a yogi task, a yogi meditation to augment walking, sitting, and writing meditation if writing is our way to connect within and without. We could also hike, which I thought would entice, but I did not leave the site. My tent was isolated, and that was respite, and I came to love and crave sitting and walking meditation and I loved my yogic task.
I signed up to be dishwasher. I am a morning person, so I would arrive at the campsite "kitchen" at 7, or a little earlier, so I could sit with the redwoods and watch those there before me prepare breakfast. Each person was gentle, conscientious and mainly silent in their task. Whispers of necessity were allowed. A touch was allowed too, because sometimes our hearts are so full, we just have to touch, don't we? We have to share our joy, the bliss of connection.
Perhaps I should begin with the set-up. Sarah Puyans, the reason this retreat exists, loves beauty, is beauty, is beautiful, so buckets of flowers are everywhere. Each picnic table has a tablecloth of sunflowers and a candle that is lit for breakfast as it is dark in the mist and trees. Two giant all-clad pots provide oatmeal, cream of wheat, or some other hot breakfast treat, and then, dried cranberries and apricots, raisins and nuts, and yogurt can be added. There is fresh fruit.
The site is not level, so as dishwasher it is my responsibility to use the one sink to fill the huge tea kettles with water, heat the water on a propane stove, and carry the tea kettles of boiling water up the hill to the table where six tubs are arranged for use after scraping plates for compost. One is for scrubbing, one for washing, and one for rinsing. There are two rows of tubs, and the water is not level as the table slants downhill. One has to be careful not to trip on a root, or maybe not so careful, as the roots are there, and they seem to offer a hold, a tap, support. Roots say: I am here. Can you feel my love, wisdom, age? Response: Yes! I feel your love, wisdom, age. I surrender, and lift on your root as though on a step. I am child.
Each person washes their own dishes, and drying racks support an array of dishtowels. Each person brought their own dishes, eating utensils, dishtowel and napkin. Each person carries their dishes to their place at one of the nine picnic tables, a place always the same, and places the cup and mug upside down on their plate, and wraps the array in a cloth napkin. That is to discourage critters, and keep pine needles and cones from filling one's bowl. The racks are carried to the sun in the middle of the day.
My point right now is that each step I take seems to bounce up from the earth as though I am walking on forest duff, and when I pour water into the coffee pot, I am pouring water into the huge kettles, and carrying it to the bins, and living the greatest of grace. My feet are rotating looking for roots, and they are here. My feet are curious. I am curious. This world so beautiful it sometimes hurts, and two beautiful young women go off to college, both women of intellect, beauty, care and grace. Two women who are eighteen, and I am soon to be 64, and Sarah Puyans is 79. She started this retreat twenty years ago when she walked out of a meditation hall, and realized she wanted a Zendo that celebrates the outdoors, and so she created this with two other women. One, Janet has a book almost complete on how to do a retreat like this. The intention is to create retreats. It could be a retreat for one, but preferably, two, three, or in this case, fifty-five, fifty-five women scattered in their tents around the mountain, at the heart, the center, of Mt. Tam.
Today I will have time to get to my journals and perhaps give a taste of what the retreat meant to me, or maybe this is the taste. Maybe this is enough, and I will see. Who knows what this next moment offers, brings, but I am open, alive, all senses aware and awake, curious to welcome, taste, share, and connect.