Upon returning home from last weekend's retreat, Zet and I received some very touching e-mail from one of the participants. With her permission, here are a few of her words, slightly edited for the sake of brevity and protecting the identity of the woman I'll call Martha:
I couldn't help crying at the service this morning. Every word, no matter how positive and loving, just seemed to turn on the faucet a little more. It was so beautiful a morning, and I know I have not allowed myself to grieve. Well I haven't stopped crying yet.
The [whole] retreat was magical, as always. [In the past] I have always participated fully, but this time I was low energy and couldn't seem to get out of myself. [Mostly] I slept, wept and walked. I couldn't even get the energy to go down to the waterside, but I sat on the little patio by my cabin and listened to everyone else who was down there. My sweet friend tried repeatedly to coax me down there, but I wouldn't budge. But... I did experience a time of renewal, a joy of still being alive... Thank you.
DWELLING IN SADNESS
Martha's experience is not that unusual, because quite often someone tells me that he can't come to our retreat, or that she hasn't been coming to our Morning Circle for a few weeks, "because I've been feeling really bummed out, and didn't want to bring my downer energy into the Circle."
But as Martha discovered, it is precisely when you're feeling sad or confused that being in an openhearted, loving space can be particularly beneficial to you, and those around you.
I mention this because is Mother's Day, which is usually one of our best-attended Circles of the year, a wonderfully rich and moving opportunity to remember and embrace our mothers collectively and individually. As we bring up fond memories and send forth blessings to our loved ones, the room inevitably gets filled to the brim with warm, fuzzy feelings, engendered by our songs, photos, poems, and prayers focused on our collective experience of the Divine Mother - as well as our individual moms.
DEALING WITH FEELINGS
But, I also know that every year there are a number of people who won't attend our Mother's Day Circle, because they're still grieving their recently-deceased Loved One - or, perhaps because they had painful, dysfunction relationships with their parent(s) - and are therefore reluctant to attend such a "happy space," where everyone else seems so much more positive.
Should you happen to feel like that , please consider attending anyway. Because as much as we enjoy focusing on peace, love and joy in the Circle, we are also there to affirm the healing and empowerment that can come from facing and embracing the full spectrum of our thoughts and feelings in the context of the shared rituals, poetry, artistry, songs and silence we foster in the Circle. That's because our purpose is to honor and nurture the Sacred in ourselves, each other and ALL Creation - not just the fun stuff, the good feelings and smiley faces - but the dark places, the shadow spaces and the healing graces, too.
OPENING TO SUPPORT
Personally, I still miss my mother a lot, and based on past experience, I will probably shed some tears while thinking about her , twelve years after her passing. But I am deeply grateful for the gift of having the Celebration Circle community and the public space it provides for my grief, as well as the rest of my often-conflicting thoughts and feelings, all of which are welcomed and affirmed in the context of our gatherings. I hope you feel the same way, too, and look forward to the possibility of seeing you in the Circle .
With gratitude and blessings,