Making the retreat last, by Tina Simson

I’m always so motivated when I return to my daily life from a retreat or workshop. In the quiet of contemplative hours, I promise myself that I will meditate regularly, invite the spirit of the divine into my life, and be a more open friend and partner. You see, it feels so good to take the time, during a retreat, to reconnect to my inner self and all the rest and wisdom I find there. But invariably as the busyness of my life rushes at me, my best intentions slip away. After a few days or a week, I become discouraged.

Last year when I was a Wellspring participant, I tried something different. I made room in my life for my new commitment. I recognized that I wanted to honor this effort, to make it part of each day and each week. That doesn’t happen unless I take something out. It doesn’t work to say, I’ll get up an hour earlier, or I’ll make time at the end of the day. Giving up sleep and rejuvenation to have time for spiritual pursuits is counter-productive.

As I looked at my list of commitments and responsibilities, I realized that there was no room to put one more thing into the schedule. So my first spiritual practice was ‘cleaning house.’ I prioritized, time with my husband and family was at the top, and then exercise and taking care of myself, then on down the list. What seemed to be at the bottom for me were volunteer efforts. Wow, that was a hard one. As a good UU, these were my lifeblood. But frankly, I was tired and needed to tend to my own soul. So I began, not only to say ‘no’, but also to back out. Something humbling occurred, others stepped in and I left my causes in good hands as I took time for my journey. What a gift and a lesson.

I also let my family know how important this was to me. They picked up some chores and consciously respected my time for Wellspring. And I did one more thing; I created a visual reminder of my commitment and my fellow Wellspring seekers. I found seven small stones in the creek behind my house and arranged them in a circle around a candle. Seven stones, one for each fellow seeker and a candle for the light we created together. I put it on my kitchen counter, right in the middle of my life. I lit it whenever I was home and the soft glow was a gentle reminder of my intentions and my friends and my heart.

So maybe the retreat doesn’t end at the end of the session, maybe it doesn’t end at all when we can find a way to bring it consciously into our daily living.
I wish all 2007-08 Wellspring participants a soulful year.


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