Monday, February 18, 2008


So I just got back from this women's retreat in sunny CA. You can keep California as far as I'm concerned. I was nervous it was going to fall into the ocean at any minute. All the weight of those big box stores and chain restaurants, wave after wave of them, plus the visible particulate matter in the air, can't possibly be sustained.

If you drive inland just a bit, there's a hill in the middle of the city; if you go up the hill, you get to Rancho Palos Verdes, an otherworldly expensive settlement that looks down on the carpet of lights spread out all over the valley. We drove past homes worth several million, past riding stables, past Lexus, Jaguar, Mercedes and Range Rover dealerships to get to the Mary and Joseph Retreat Center. The view stuns. The gardens amaze; old-growth aloe vera plants the size of a volkswagen beetle, palm trees, all manner of blossoming plants. Wish I'd had a plant id book with me. Anyway. The retreat was amazing. It was held at the Mary and Joseph Retreat Center. When you leave, they ask you to pray over the bed for the next retreatant.

I felt at home and at ease right away and connected with some amazing women. The entire experience was characterized by person after person as "amazing." It seemed to reduce our collective vocabulary to that of Aerosmith. (Remember? the words Crying Crazy Amazing For You Baby comprise the bulk of the lyrics on an entire 90s album.)

Wish I could say what it meant. I'm still processing it all. But I don't really know as yet, I only know I've been touched, deeply, from sitting at breakfast in tears listening to Annette's story, to hearing how women walk through their lives with dignity and grace in moments from the mundane to the sublime to the drop-dead painful. We talked about what it really meant to be of service, to be a force for good, to find a way to keep on going after horrific mistakes and/or experiences and turn that darkness into something positive for others by sharing it.

I had to miss some important events to go. I hope I can use what I learned there well enough that my absence is worth it in the eyes of those I love.
The peacock above is one of six or so who roam the grounds.

No comments: