Friday, May 02, 2008

Day 6: Releasing and Healing

These posts are such small snapshots of each day, rich with experience, both delightful and challenging.  As someone once said, "transformation is not for the feint of heart."  Hui Ho'Olana, the name of the retreat center, means "where inspiration rises up form the heart."  Inspiration rises rather easily here in this beautiful and welcoming environment, but so does everything else along with it.  When we open, everything comes, not just the joy.  Today we ceremonially honored what wanted to be released - especially anguish and grief - but first it had to be witnessed.  This understanding is most beautifully offered in another Mary Oliver poem, "Heavy" (below).  It rained gently in the morning, as if the sky was weeping softly. We moved the large rock from the altar to the deck outside the yurt. We began to ring the bell as might happen in a temple in Asia whenever a death has occurred. As we counted each striking of the bell with the beaded mala - 108 peals of the bell - participants came forward and poured water over the rock to honor their loss or grief as one might do at an ashes site in Japan. The silence was filled with only the bell, the wind, the birds, and the tender hearts of the participants.  Later in the day, after dinner, laughter and music could be heard echoing down the hill.  How does this happen?

Mary Oliver

That time I thought I would not
go any closer to grief
without dying
I went closer, and I do not die.
Surely God had his hand in this,
as well as friends.
Still, I was bent, and my laughter, 
as the poet said,
was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel
(brave even among lions),
"It's not the weight you carry but how you carry it -
book, bricks, grief -
it's all in the way you embrace it, balance it, carry it
when you cannot, and would not, put it down."
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?
Have you heard the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?
How I linger to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world that are kind,
and maybe also troubled -
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love to which there is no reply?


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