Tides And Seasons

Never before, over twenty five years on Holy Island, can I recall such warm sun  every day of a week's retreat. I had rather short notice to shape and sharpen material for this retreat on Tides and Seasons.<p>

Retreatants came from Canada, England, Scotland, South Africa, USA and Wales.  We kicked off with each person perusing a sheet of teddy bear figures of all modes and moods. They chose the one that best reflected the season  they were in. We explored chronological seasons: Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man. We explored the Springs, Summers, Autumns and Winters of life; the sudden storms, the barren times, the 'all hands on deck' periods and much more. <p>

The common factor was that in order to move on into the next season that is meant to be, we have to visit our deepest wounds,  there to become vulnerable, open, willing to let go.  Nature is a parable. Unless a seed allows itself to be buried it cannot bring forth new life. 'At the heart of life is the eternal womb, as Job says, from which the waters of life have burst forth...Do we see with inner sight that each plant, each creature, each human being is born at heart from holy soil?' Philip Newell <p>

Our problem is that we cling to our self-manufactured personas in order to hide from the pain of reality. How to be who we really are? How to stop hiding, or posturing, or controlling? <p>

'I don't want my leaves to drop,' said the tree.
'I don't want to freeze',  said the pool.
'I don't want to smile', said the sombre man.
'Or ever to cry,' said the Fool.
'I don't want to open,' said the bud.
'I don't want to end,' said the night.
'I don't want to rise,' said the neap-tide.
'Or ever to fall,' said the kite.

They wished and they murmured and whispered,
They said that to change was a crime.
Then a voice from nowhere answered,
'You must do what I say,' said Time.
The Tree and the Pool by Brian Patten in Stopping for Death-Poems of Death and Loss ed by Carol Ann Duffy (Henry Holt 1986 USA) 

The retreatants greatly appreciated Kayleah (housekeeper|), Jutta (cook) and Robert (repairs and community prayers), and Bob and Lois (sister of Joy Holt) who stood in for the usual community member who offers a community presence for the week.  It was poignant for me to be on the Holy Island I have dedicated my life to, and  a joy to meet islander friends who respond to people who stick at things.<p>

In truth, someone else should have led a retreat on discerning the season you are entering - for me!


Posted at 18:33pm on 6th July 2018
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