When an acquaintence asked what kind of retreat I was going to, I skirted the issue and gave a vague response that it was about nature. Well, that was true, but the exact title was “The Fairy Congress.”
Yes… I was going to a Fairy Convention with 300 other people who believed in magic.
I knew I was on an adventure when I stopped at the Twisp Co-op, the last little town before entering the remote retreat center. Michael showed me his car and shared his salad of sprouts, local greens and non-hybridized grains. I was feeling more in touch with nature with each mile I drove away from the city.
This is where I turned off my cell phone and said good-bye to anything computer related. When I got to the Skalitude Retreat Center I instantly felt a shift in the energy. People didn’t seem bothered by another person, but welcomed me with open arms. It’s fun to hear a man in a cape say, “Hail Thee and Welcome!”
OK, so I’ve officially entered a new world here…
The first workshop with Robert Moss, I got to tell my story about riding on the 4-wheeler with my Dad as he showed me the virgin land that would soon be sprayed with chemical.
I felt powerless.
Pleading with Dad didn’t work, so I did my own little ritual. I picked up a clump of tree root with dirt clinging to it. Said a prayer and how sorry I was for what would happen tomorrow. As I rode behind my Dad, I spoke into that clump of dirt, he thinks he’s feeding the world and gently tossed it onto the land.
It felt like the only thing I could do.
Robert had me choose someone from the audience to act out each part… me, my Dad, the 4-wheeler, the land and the clump of dirt. We did a theater piece and at the end a woman from the crowd yelled out, “What you did mattered!”
What that woman expressed in the moment mattered to me, more than she’ll probably ever know. I felt healed. And maybe the land was a little bit healed too. What I’m learning is that all our experiences have significance.
In our dreams (waking or sleeping) it’s important to give the story a title, name the feeling and ask how you can apply this information to future events.
Near the medicine wheel, we did a meditation calling in nature spirits who had a message for us. Unexpectedly I got an ant. What? An ant? Where was my little winged friend? The facilitator told us to keep an eye open for our nature spirit to show up later in the day. And, to my surprise, about an hour later, a black ant walked right by my leg. My takeaway was how ants work in community.
Even though I’m working on a solo performance piece right now, it’s not just about me. It takes a director, lighting and sound people, event planners and an audience to pull something like this off. It may seem like a stretch to think an ant could show me what I needed to learn, but it did.
I smiled when a newly formed band called Heavy Meadow announced it would share some music at twilight. “What time is that?” someone asked. We laughed, realizing we were officially on nature’s time. Man-made time simply wasn’t a big part of this retreat.
We gathered by the stage and danced to improv music – organic and natural. Letting my body freeform move in the meadow with everyone else doing their unique dance made me feel like I was 5 years old again. Only a happier version of 5. Everyone was equal. Everyone was unique. Everyone was happy. A little microcosm of what our world could be.
The next morning, a group of us starting hiking at 6:30 to meditate with nature. It was led by Michael Dunning who healed himself by living under a Yew Tree, the original Egyptian Tree of Life. He told us we’d feel the energy shift as we reached a higher altitude. Talking was ok at lower elevations, but a quiet hike was more appropriate as we reached the top.
I noticed the woman in front of me was gently clenching her fists. She looked cold, so I asked her if she’d like to hold hands. This was fine with her. She told me she loved touch. As it turned out, she was going to lead the Touch Drawing Workshop later that afternoon. Deborah Koff-Chapin was one of the reasons I wanted to come to this retreat and here I was meeting her for the first time while holding her hand!
Magical things happen when gathering in a non-judgmental space filled with people who stretch themselves. People who respect all life (visible and invisible) are fun to be around.
Nature showed me many things during the Fairy Congress. That it’s important to follow our natural rhythm, there are signs everywhere if we slow down and look for them and as Chief Seattle said…