Tuesday, August 17, 2021

A Day of Renewal

Throughout my working life I’ve had the good fortune to have been involved with organizations and groups that value spirituality and recognize the need for cultivating self-care and a healthy work/life balance. Case in point: last Tuesday the members of Allina Health’s Palliative Care consulting group, with whom I’m a spiritual health provider (or chaplain), spent the day renewing mind, body and soul at Charlson Meadows in Victoria, MN.

As my friend and fellow Palliative Care chaplain Andrea said of our retreat day, “It is fabulous how one beautiful day of water, land, conversation and food can begin to restore the spirit.”

Following are some photos of my time at Charlson Meadows Renewal Center, on the shores of beautiful Lake Zumbra.

As one of the retreat’s planners, I facilitated the day’s opening ritual, one that invited particpants to “set aside” for the day whatever it was that was weighing most on their hearts and minds. I had a beautiful river stone for everyone present, which we all placed in a wooden bowl to symbolize this “setting aside.” At the end of the day, folks were free to come and gather up their stone, perhaps aware that they were able to “carry” what it represented in a new way, now that they had experienced a day of rest and renewal.

I also shared the following, noting that our time together was very much like an “eye of the storm,” a center of calm that we were creating today and wherein we were invited to “feel the God within,” however we understand this sacred reality.

All tempest has,
like a navel,
a hole in its middle,
through which
a gull can fly,
in silence.

A fourteenth-century Japanese saying,
author unknown

From across the centuries, this nameless voice tells us that at the heart of all struggle there is a peaceful enduring center, if we can only reach it. All the wisdom traditions affirm this.

Still, deeper paradox of life is carried here. For the gull flies through the peaceful center; it does not live there. The work, it seems, for us is to draw sustenance from that central, eternal space without denying the experience of the storm.

Repeatedly, we are thrown into the storm and into the center. When in the storm, we are exacerbated by our humaness. When in the center, we are relieved by our spiritual place in the Oneness of things. So to find the center and spread our battered wings is to feel the God within.

Our constant struggle is in living both sides of this paradox. For we cannot get to the center without going through the storm that surrounds it. Yet the storm of human experience can only be endured by knowing what the gull knows. The storm can only be survived from the center. In how we pass [together] from storm to center and back – there we’ll find the trials and gifts of love.

Mark Nepo
"The Edge of Center"
From The Book of Awakening
Conari Press, 2011
pp. 155-156

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Cultivating Stillness
The Source Is Within You
Prayer of the Week – November 24, 2014
The Most Sacred and Simple Mystery of All
Balance: The Key to Serenity and Clarity
There Must Be Balance
May Balance and Harmony Be Your Aim
A Discerning Balance Between Holiness and Wholeness
Seeking Balance
Memet Bilgin and the Art of Restoring Balance
The Landscape Is a Mirror
O Breath of Summer

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

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