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Retreat Hopes

Retreat Hopes

I’ve been writing quite a bit here and there about the season, the growing nights, the shrinking days, and the invitations of the darkness. I am also hosting a virtual retreat—a day of rest and renewal you take for yourself at home, supported by four calls, recordings, and handouts from me—on December 19th. For more concrete information and to register, visit the Going Into the Dark page.

Several folks have asked me what the calls will entail, and so I thought I’d share a bit about my thinking about the retreat and the season.

First of all, Going Into the Dark¸ the virtual retreat of December 19th, is designed as a collaborative event. It is about rest and renewal, about self-care and soul sustenance. Nevertheless, it is not a passive event; it is not an occasion to just listen to calls, get off the calls and go back to work.

Spiral of twinkly lightsI understand that many of us have competing obligations. That is the way of things, and it is okay. Some of us will spend a great part of our day on the 19th being with children, wrapping presents, or otherwise engaging otherwise than Going Into the Dark. Nonetheless, I encourage all of us (me included!) to make as much of the day as possible a full day of rest and renewal.

What does that mean?

It will look different for each of us. I will probably spend a great deal of time writing, napping,
and reading. It’s possible I’ll get out one of my mandala coloring books and colored pencils, as well. (I am such a proponent of the benefits of coloring and doodling. Seriously, if you haven’t tried it, check out Color Me Calm. It’s is a lovely book.)

It’s also a great day to experience the outside world. Is it dim outside? Snowing? Raining? Bright, brilliant sun in a winter-azure sky? What is the wind doing?

Is there a place to go for a walk where you can visit with trees? Quiet enough that you can hear them rustling to one another?

fir trees with snowI can’t go for more than very short walks at this point, but I might drive out into the woods and spend some time with the trees and mossy rocks in any case. If you are close to water—river, lake, or best of all, the ocean—go visit for a little bit, and see what it has to say on that day close to the solstice.

I’ve also mentioned in a few of my promotions that stringing popcorn and cranberries for the birds is a nice activity to do during the retreat, especially if you have children who will be home. There will be about 2 to 2 ½ hours between the end of one call and the beginning of another, so enough time to get things started, in any case.

The point of all this is that I sincerely hope December 19th can be a retreat day for you. If it can’t be, but you can come to some of the calls and you want to have the recordings of the others, that’s okay. But the day is really designed to be a retreat.

It’s a gift, retreat.

It’s a gift many of us have a terribly hard time giving to ourselves. Those of us who practice weekly Sabbath are more skilled at it than the rest of us, and those brought up doing so maybe most of all? I find, though, that anyone can benefit.

And don’t misunderstand me:  I’m not speaking as someone who finds it easy to truly retreat. I have a hard time vacationing. I tend to treat it like an assignment. It can take me a while to truly sink in. That’s why for the 19th, I’m offering support to others—and support to myself! The calls are designed to take us deeper and deeper into contemplation on what the season has to share with us, what the Mysteries of the solstice are for us, and how we hope and intend to engage the New Year.

As the nights lengthen and the days become dimmer and shorter, I trust that you will be going into the dark in good and powerful ways. I hope to see you on the 19th, and if not, nonetheless hope that your solstice is blessed by the close and holy darkness.

labyrinth at night

Photo credits, Julie Clarenbach,,

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