The loneliness in any crisis can be the worst part. I am grateful that crisis brings with it opportunity to come together. To show compassion, love and strength. We can do and be exponentially more in collaboration than we ever can be alone.
We see the nation coming together in the face of tragedy in Boston. Sending prayers, money, and donating blood. Facebook is plastered with heartened messages of people seeing the helpers coming forth so prevalent from the first moment. What will this tragedy give you an opportunity to do (or to be)? What (or who) supports you to do this?
For sure love heals. I am convinced. I have witnessed this phenomenon over and over again. None of us do anything alone, (even though we are down on ourselves if we think we can’t accomplish things alone because “we are supposed to”.)
This past weekend, as you all know and so readily supported, was my retreat Reclaiming Your Soul, for people healing from sexually abuse and assault. The attendees were some brave souls. Many more people wrote me that they wanted to come. Some couldn’t because of previous engagements, others because of distance, and many others couldn’t come because it was simply too scary. Despite all their fear and talking themselves out of it, they made it there.
Light On The Hill was beyond our expectations. It’s beauty, cleanliness and healthy food became the perfect backdrop for us to relax and focus on letting go of fear and judgment, as well as cultivate new relationships with each other and with ourselves.
Saying goodbye, one women said to me:
“When I came here I was all about self sabotage. And now I am opening my heart to love. That is a huge difference in two days!”
This happened because she took the opportunity.
Being deeply love by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage. ~Lao Tzu
This small group connected soul to soul with each other. They communicated with each other often without even talking. On the last day, we did a Tratak meditation where we looked into each other eyes. At first everyone thought that this was the hardest thing we did, make sustained eye contact, but by the end they were all smiling and making sure they didn’t miss their turn with anyone. When we are this connected, we forget to beat ourselves us up and they found a bit a relief here. Read what one participant wrote to me:
“The exercise when we all looked in each other’s eyes was so easy for me because I forgot what I was doing. In fact, when I was resting in my room a little, I thought that I would love to give a small message to each of the participants, and I couldn’t find a nice paper to write on. When you explained the exercise, all what I did is talk to the other person with my eyes. I completely and totally forgot that the other person was also looking in my eyes. I didn’t think of me and of what they are thinking, and I only gave my message and it was very beautiful.”
You are not alone
They shared and learned, and got so much from each other. These folks went from fear of touching shoulder to shoulder to bear hugs where they didn’t want to let go. The energy was so positive and the theme of everyone’s attitude was gratitude. “You are not alone” was one of the most important take home messages as they learned they can let someone in without being crisis. We’d crawl under the bathroom stall door for each other in a heartbeat.
We cried and laughed and learned and grew together. We created new identities, that were built-not from our abused stories-but from our goodness. And we took those new identities into our hearts and minds.
“I realized how many of the stories that are in my head can be looked at differently and can be given a different meaning.”
I am so humble that they all gave our little retreat a chance. They blessed me with their courage and willingness.
A Little Help From My Friends
I couldn’t have done it without all the support I had. Ted as usual acted as my biggest fan. My family and friends spread the word about the retreat, sent prayers and messages of support. (My kind and thoughtful blog-friend, Robert from the UK (Arkwrights of Orton Blog) wrote me support several times!) Safe Harbours of the Finger Lakes gave us two scholarships. My two steadfast co-leaders, Stan and Janalee, were invaluable in the planning, advertising and facilitating. They were the easiest, positive, most helpful partners anyone could have. And, it was all volunteer!
It was a wonderful experience and taught me that there is nothing people can’t accomplish when they are in connection.
Today and tomorrow a few of the retreatants are going to Albany to lobby to open the statute of limitations on sexual abuse, so that people who have been abused as children could seek justice now that they are strong enough to come forward. I wish I was with them. If I didn’t have a full schedule this week, I would be! Just wanted to tell them thank you for this work they are doing!