Since I wrote my last Letter from the Editor, the world has changed in so many ways. Yet, in others it has not. If we cut out all the noise and chaos of the outside world for a moment, we are faced with the stark reality of ourselves. For many, confronted with this unscheduled time at home, the thought of spending time in “isolation” is downright scary. For others, it has been a gift. In a world where everyone (or everything) seems to clamor for attention or recognition, spending time alone, or just some quiet time, is a luxury many can ill afford. Or is it?
Retreat, in the sense of spending “time out,” should not be a gift or luxury, it should be a necessity of life. A necessity we seem to have forgotten in our 24-hour, always “on” world. How can we possibly tune out this noise, learn to separate fact from fiction, if we don’t take a step back and get back-to-basics once in a while? And when I say back-to-basics, I really mean back to nature, back to our origins, back to (or discovering) our true selves.
My personal retreat is my garden. Five years ago, after separating from an extremely unhealthy relationship, my “garden” was little more than patchy “lawn” (which was a generous description to say the least). There were a few plants in desperate need of love, surrounded by an old, falling-down garage. I thought I’d throw up a fence, contain my dog from the rest of the land, and call it good. But it was not to be.
I began to think: Why not put in a plant box or two and grow some herbs and veggies? Some flowers, even? And, so it began. As I added to my garden piece-by-piece, my soul began to feel nourished again. The positive side of my emotional self began to emerge once more. As I tended to my garden, fed each plant, pruned back trees, literally pulled up paving stones, and painted the old garage into a workshop and studio for my business, I found my spirit healing – nourished and healthy again. The fear and uncertainty I had felt in the past few years dissipated, slowly but most certainly surely.
People asked me: What do you do in the garden all the time? Sometimes I wasn’t doing. I was being.
I sat. Listening to the birds merrily chirping away in the bird bath, splashing happily in the water. The buzz of the hummingbirds as they fought with each other over the feeder, then buzzed me as if to “tell” on each other. The toad I found hopping around the garden as secret spaces evolved for it to hide. The chipmunks darting across the patio, no doubt digging up some of the seeds I had just planted and taunting my dog as he slept. Sunflowers reaching for the summer sun. Roses fragrancing the air. This was my sanctuary. My retreat. And it healed me; it heals me.
A retreat can mean many things, but you often don’t have to go far from home to find it. It begins with ourselves.
So, you may not be able to go far to retreat this year but take a look around your community. Check out the nature walks and parks. And get back to nature. You never know what you might discover.