Many times during the weekend I was drawn to this scene, so picturesque, serene and divine. The only thing that inspired me more was watching each of you in contact with one another. The tender, loving, gentle ways you connected with each other were beautiful beyond these mere words. It was asked of me, “Why do people keep coming back to this weekend? Didn’t they get it yet?” Ahh, that was a discussion for Noel, Ed and I in the car on the way back home. Ed said, “It is a result of therapy that the weekend happens like it does.” Noel said, “These are the people who are living the gift”. How blessed am I to be witness to you.
I believe the pictures capture the essence of the weekend. You may notice in some of the photos that there are white orbs. They seem to show up in the shots where we are joyful and celebrating…like wonderful bubbles. Almost as if the angels are laughing with us.
I hope you will take a moment and think about your three golden moments and three lead moments. I would love for all of us to stay in contact with this weekend and keep it fresh.
Amanda asked me on Tuesday morning if I am committed to 2008. She was very direct with her questions…how could I refuse. The Present Quest (family reunion) will be August 29 to September 1, 2008. We have secured the date with Marywood. They are very happy to have us back. So please mark your calendar. Think about who else would be enlightened from this experience send them the website and consider themes for next year. We can be like Macy’s day parade…as soon as it is over we can be planning the next one.
With love and gratitude,
Please share your experiences or hear what others had to say about our annual weekend retreat. Scroll down further to see the responses we've received so far!
Your reflections of the Present Quest are for sharing. If you'd like your input to be private and not posted, please indicate so in your text. Thank you.
- Being present at the God letters and being moved to tears by numerous letters of truth. It became clear to me what is ego and what is truth when we are acknowledging our gifts. It's the difference between boasting and holding the light of God and celebrating and allowing the light to pass through you. It was so powerful. I loved how each reader spoke slowly and with such compassion and warmth.
- Spending time with Ed and Kim writing the riddles for the treasure hunt. Kim and I were getting anxious and said to Ed...we have to hurry we have 7 more to write...and Ed said with his profound wisdom "Relax Honey Bunnies, they are all written they're just not on the paper yet!" Is that a truth or what.
- The dance. Later when I looked at the pictures of my song being played and all of us having tea candles it reminded me of fireflies playing in a field. So beautiful. Each song was so moving and so spontaneous. I still smile at the Rocky Raccoon skit.
Desires for next year:
- Never enough time to do all that I want to do. I would have loved to meet a group down at the dock and stood silent in prayer as the sun rose.
- Times my container (aka body) became tired when my heart wanted to continue to play. In 2007 I do know that my soul is housed in this container and I have to listen to it and sit or lay down. I miss the late night war games of 1989 to 1995(?) recharges. But it is what it is!
- Last day conflict within the staff. There is still a small part of me that wants to resist conflict and see it as a problem as opposed to an opportunity, however the profound growth is that the volume in my ears was about a 2 compared to the past when it could reach a 10. Yahoooo...Lead to Gold
- I would like to continue to have a dance that comprises of your songs with different focuses...such as a song that speaks to your family of origin and how you view them in 2007 or a song that captures your sexuality...I know Sally would love that one.
- I would love to consider having a Men's /Women's group where the men fishbowl the women's group and the women fishbowl the men's group. (Fishbowl means to just witness with no intrusion) So often I hear the men wondering what the women are doing and the women being curious as to what the men are doing.
- I am still thinking about the theme. It seems it is inspired as we get closer but I would love to hear your thoughts.
- Michelle having and giving me my stone, and that I had and gave Michelle her stone. The connection we had right away, truelly heartfelt.
- All the dancing! Being asked by another wonderful lady, Nancy, to dance with her during her song. Taking a chance and saying yes. Actually getting up out of my seat and dancing in front of everyone and feeling the song and the relationship of my new friend. Also, dancing with Ed, even though for him it was like moving a "Mack truck" around the floor, I had so much fun and laughed so hard. One day, maybe I will actually let the men lead! All the dancing and all the songs, so awesome! Also, I can't forget the notorious "Blue Group" number performed. What fun!
- The heartfelt closeness I felt and still feel to this wonderful group of "strangers", except for a few of those I did know. Finding out I had been in a group years ago with my roommate. Riding up to the retreat with a delightful new friend who made the trip go by so fast with all his interesting stories. Feeling immediate "touched my soul-like" connections to some special women. Being "part of" instead of apart from a group and not feel terribly threatened. Reconnecting with an old friend and seeing him in a different capacity, as a professional, who appears happy, peaceful and serene with who he is today. So many more golden moments. What a true blessing the whole experience was for me. Oh, I have to mention one more golden moment, although there were many, but watching the mother and baby manatee by the dock was priceless!
- Initially for bringing my fear, feeling not part of, and envious of those who already knew each other. Fear, Fear, Fear.
- Leaving the retreat, and instead of trusting I can keep all of this wonderful feeling of the weekend. My mind got back to life, believing it would be the same and afraid I wouldnt take back with me all the wonderful energy and serenity of the weekend. Having some of the heaviness of that before even pulling out of the driveway. (but I'm still trying to hang on to all of it).
- I will have to think about #3 and add it later if thats OK. '
will get back to you about suggestions. You did such an awesome job planning this one!
- Dancing with Ginnie during my song and feeling connected to her. When I said thank you for the dance she said "I am honored". Thank you Ginnie, I was honored also.
- Listening to Tom read my letter from God to me and affirming what a wonderful joyfull loving person I am!
- Realizing that to turn my life's lead into gold I need to forgive and to have forgiveness. The definition to forgive is to give up anger or resenting someone's behavior.( the definition seems a liitle lame to me) I like the definition of forgiveness "compassionate feelings that support a willingness to forgive" THAT'S WHERE I NEED TO BE"
Thank you for the riddle
- Going through the weekend and not knowing wheather their will be another recharge. Focusing at times on losing an experience instead of gaining one.
- Not enough opportunity fo closure to the group as a whole at the end. Remember the closure 3 years ago...... wow!!!
- Not maintaining connection with some of the finest most loving people I'll ever know.'
- enjoying the weekend and not waiting for Monday to come so I knew I would see my home again. This time somehow I knew I would come home so I was able to stay in the "present."
- Playing the "I Never" game.
- Writing the letter to myself from GOD. That was very powerful.
I can think of several more highs; but because I don't want to cheat(like the Precious team), I won't mention them.
- I think my only low was being drained in the evenings. I have to work on not being a "geriatric."
- WHEN I MADE THE DECISION IN ST.AUGUSTINE THE NIGHT BEFORE ,TO LEAVE "JOHN WAYNE", HIS TEN GALLON HAT (VERY HEAVY ON MY HEAD!)AND HIS HORSE (SO I COULDN'T-WOULDN'T RUN AWAY FROM MY WORK OR THE GROUP!)THERE IN ST.A., AND,.. COME FREE OF ALL THE FASCADE OF BEING TOUGH...SO I WOULD BE 110% AVAILABLE TO DO MY WORK AND SUPPORT OTHERS.
- TO REALIZE EARLY ON THAT,.. ALTHOUGH BEING NEW TO THE GROUP AND ONE WHO HAD HAD "POST TRAUMATIC TOOO MUCH RECOVERY SYNDROME"!!...IT WAS A SAFE PLACE TO "BE" AND TO RISK.
- TO TAKE A HUGH RISK ...BY FIRST TELLING JOAN THE SONG THAT MOST EFFECTED ME AND THEN, TO TALK TO THE GROUP AND THEN WALK OUT (AIDED BY MICHELE..T.Y.)AND JUST LET IT ALL GO WHEREVER IT WOULD (AND DID!) TAKE ME...I NEVER FELT EMBARRASSED OR REMOREFUL ..DUE TO THE SUPPORT I FELT FROM EVERYONE. '
- LEAVING...I WANTED TO STAY LONGER IN THE NEW FOUND "WOMB"OF QUALITY SUPPORTIVE RECOVERY.
- NOT HAVING TIME TO GET TO KNOW MORE OF THE PEOPLE THAT WERE NOT DIRECTLY IN MY SMALL GROUP. I SO RESPECTED THEM ALL.
- THAT IS IT ....CAN NOT EVEN THINK OF A THIRD!!'
- BREAK OUT GROUPS& MEN'S GROUP NEEDED MORE TIME... THEY WE RUSHED AND ENDED OFTEN INCOMPLETE...THIS ALLOTTED TIME SHOULD BE INVIOLATE AND GIVEN MAX.TIME.
- ALSO, THAT THEY START AND END ON TIME..
Every moment with this group of conscious, loving, open people is a golden moment. To be able to witness each others sharing, risk taking and genuine concern for each other is what really matters.
- To highlight a few moments specific to me. When we did the eye contact exercise I always get it about looking into each others soul and really having a moment to connect and just be with that person. When I came to Joan I can't explain what happened very well but it was like 25 years of friendship, love and respect being captured in that one soul moment and imprinted on my heart forever. It brings tears to my eyes even now.
- The Present Map was a complete surprise to me. I did not expect to get as much out of it as I did. I am always wanting to look to the future and it was a great lesson in being in the now and really seeing all the beauty around me. I was so excited. My mantra lately has been. "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." Well that present walk made that statement crystal clear for me.
- The Womans group. I really appreciate women's energy and their strength. There was some amazing risk taking, sharing and laughing together as we realize we all struggle with the same stuff. Creating that safe, loving space to share in was a gift.
- This is a lead into gold. Most of the weekend I had a migraine and this usually occurs when I am stressed or thinking to much and my body revolts. I always function through it but usually at half capacity. The gold was there were several moments when it lifted - laughing especially during the games and the dance when movement and celebration helped me to shift. Good lesson.
- Another lead for me is my issues around time. I am always on time so the whole weekend it felt like I was rushing or there was not enough time to get it all in. In the end I short change myself making sure there is enough time. My lead to gold would be to learn to allow the process to set the pace vs the clock. I'm not there yet.
- I love the idea of fishbowling the men's and women's groups. I know that sharing is valuable to us all.
- I loved the way we did commencement this year. The honoring of each other was so powerful. Thank you Ginny.
- It was a great year. Thank you all for being present and making the Quest possible.
- Numerous visits to the end of the dock-
- Drawing a golden stone with Joan's name on it, I thought of many devious and prankster ways to deliver it to her, but chose a modest delivery that I hope was fun for all.
- Finding my t-shirt
Listening to everyone was very helpful to me, but hearing Keenie talk about her identity struggle was very eye-opening to me, cracking all my assumptions about her right on the head.Suggestions:
How about a Karma theme??? More snacks???'
- The Dance, music, dancing being present with others and their music was an awesome experience.
- The Women's group, women sharing their experiences openly was intimate, and bonding.
- Just spending time and reconnecting with old friends and making new friends.
Some of my lead moments are just lead now. Giving me the opportunity to have more gold in my life. It is my job as the chemist in my own life to figure them out.
- Present Mapping, at the time I felt like I failed the class. It has been a thorn in my side. I can't stand to fail. But my truth is I did it right for what I needed to learn and see. I'm still trying to understand it in time I will.
- Transition from Present Quest to home has been a challenge.
1. The "eyes and hands" icebreaker.
2. The incredible moments of connection with others.
I never would have believed that this simple act would bring up so much in me. I tend to analyze and explain and assess so much and this was not about that at all. I was vulnerable, hurting and it was ok. There was nothing to be fixed or to explain. No one needed to set things right. I could just be and feel and there was so much acceptance. Now when I start to feel anxious or upset, I can "summon" those pairs of eyes that soothed and accepted me--tears, trembling hands and all--and told me I was going to be ok and that I was safe.
*Exchanging stones with Deb after spending time getting to know her, especially the sharing we did in Sally's break out group. Deb's sharing showed me how pain from the past can be overcome, can lead to healing for oneself and also for others. That's what my song was about..."we are never broken..."
*Having Tom (the PERFECT choice) read my God letter. Lead can turn to gold so beautifully. I was afraid to choose a male voice to read my letter and at the same time knew he was the one to read it. When he shared how it affected him, I realized how my fears so often keep me from opportunities that offer loving connection with others. A very golden moment.
*Sharing with Gene in our process group and at the dance was a lifetime of gold. It still is amazing to me how a person you know very little about in terms of personal background can play such an essential, powerful part in healing tremendous pain. His willingness to be present in my healing is a gift I will always cherish. And though I have tried repeatedly, I cannot adequately express here what his dance meant. It was the most unexpected gold. 3. The games!
I did have a lead moment when I got hung up on not finding my tshirt (more on that below). I figured I should miss the games and spend time hunting for my shirt instead. Suddenly, Lynda was there urging me to come inside and join her team. I am so glad I did. I felt like I was 8 again and on the playground at recess. It was glorious. After a while I even got used to all the yelling and screaming and cheating accusations.
- "Ed and Lead". Sorry, Ed, I couldn't resist that heading. Ed suggested my lead issue might benefit from a talent show entry. It became clear on the last night that the talent show was my ticket to my shirt. I felt ill just listening to the idea. I thought perhaps I should just skip the dance and the pressure of it all, when my wonderful roommate Terry very kindly asked, "Is that really what you want to do?" Of course, that wasn't what I wanted at all. That lead moment really turned into a golden moment for me (as many lead moments have). So, thank you, Ed, so very much. I think seeing you running up with my tshirt needs to be listed above as one of my golden moments too.
- Learning about Valerie. Joan and Pat shared the news that Valerie had passed away. I went to the weekend hoping she would be there. She had been a big part of the 5 day Present where I first met Joan and Barbara 6 or 7 years ago. I came home from the weekend and saw the tear shaped ornament Valerie had given me that I keep hanging in my kitchen. She had urged me to keep it as a reminder of how healing our tears can be. I wished she had been there. I know that she was there.
- Wishing I had spent more time on the dock, in the chapel, on the grounds/trails, at the pool...more time being present....much less time in fear. That dreaded fear, especially the fear that I would forget all I was learning, that the golden moments would pass away, fear of losing all that serenity.
I am not sure that I have any helpful suggestions right now. But I do have a quote I'd like to share that has stayed with me. I saw it when I first returned home from Marywood and it reminds me of our Quest together...
"One regret, dear world, that I am determined not to have when I am lying on my deathbed is that I did not kiss you enough." --Hafiz
My thanks to everyone present for helping me learn how to "kiss the world" more. You are all so adored.
- The Made in God Workshop was a very powerful experience for me. After letting go of some initial resistance and following Joan’s suggestion to “receive without exception”, I was able to open up to “a love letter from God” and to experience myself through His eyes. After communing with God on the dock (which was an added gift to be alone with Him in such a beautiful place), I came inside and heard some of the most beautiful testimonies of his love and wisdom. I was so aware of the goodness that lives in us, not just because of what the letters said, but in our efforts to support and to give to one another in the reading of these letters. “Give without expectation”, the other part of the statement or suggestion made by Joan also took on meaning in this very tender, sacred, and healing experience. An additional golden moment or awareness took place for me during this workshop. Before arriving at the Present Quest, I went shopping in Florida with my friend Pat and picked up a Life is Good t-shirt. I felt a little funny at first about buying a shirt that said One Love with a tennis ball on it. I love to play tennis, but I thought that I was going a little overboard with this. During the sharing of the God letters, I happened to look down at my shirt and understood on a deep level what “One Love” really meant and why I had chosen to wear it on this particular day. There are no coincidences, and I’m grateful for times like these that I am able to be aware of that.
- Another golden moment for me was the dance. The process began at home with Joan asking us to pick a song that spoke of where we were at or of our present quest. Since I had recently lost my dog and was feeling a lot of grief, I had difficulty putting much energy and thought into this. I chose an Enya song that spoke to my heart and didn’t struggle with it as much as I usually would. It’s funny how it was the “right” song and that I danced with the “right” person. It confirmed for me that I can go with my gut and trust myself. It was an honor to dance with Deb, an awesome woman with a lot of compassion and courage, and to feel so spiritually connected to her. It was an amazing moment of letting go and trusting, and I am so glad that I was able to be so present for it. What started out at home as, “Damnit, I don’t want to look for a song and I don’t feel up for a dance” became “I understand that this loving source exists even in our pain and I want to celebrate that awareness with others”. The whole evening felt like a celebration of our lives—where we’ve come from and where we’re going. Being present to one another and opening up in a new way to each song and dance felt very special and sacred to me.
- The third golden moment is actually made up of two experiences that touched me--the stone exchange and the human carwash. I combine these two because they were both a form of putting closure on the weekend—honoring the weekend experience and one another. Both represent a climax of what the weekend is for me—being present in the moment and to each other and connecting on a soul level. I truly feel that when we’re here, showing up the way we do—vulnerable, genuine, and loving and we strip away all the outer baggage that gets in the way of being who we really are inside and living purely, as we’re meant to live, it’s like a heaven experience. I haven’t had a near death experience, but I know that I know what heaven is going to be like from what I experience each year at this special weekend. For me, it’s about reaching out to another’s soul and in the process reaching my own. When I’m here, I become so aware that we are really hearts, but that we get caught up in the day to day distractions at times.
Giving to others and watching everyone genuinely affirm each other in the stone exchange and the car wash warmed my insides. When I received my stone from Noel, I was so touched by his words. I don’t remember a lot of what he said to me, but I remember feeling filled and honored. The same is true during the carwash. Although I don’t remember a lot of what was said, I felt washed over with love. One word stuck with me though—“unbelievable”. Perhaps it’s because of who said it or how it was said, or the fact that I was simultaneously crowned with a “Life is Good” dog cap. Or maybe it’s the word that I’m meant to hold onto, especially on those dark days when I’m feeling fearful or inadequate. I see the cap hanging on my bedpost, and the stone on my night table, and I am reminded each day of those affirmations and special connections and I am lifted to another place.
- One lead moment for me was when I didn’t listen to my heart and follow through on asking Linda and Noel to do a song together. I allowed the old tapes to surface—“They’re doing something with someone else already and it doesn’t include me.” I also allowed fear of judgment, inadequacy, perfectionism, etc. to get in the way. When I decided to listen to my heart and to take a risk, it was too late and there wasn’t enough time.
- I missed out on some of the morning activities or failed to experience them fully because of my difficulty with getting ready in the morning and making decisions. I allowed my indecisiveness, perfectionism, obsessiveness with minor details to erode my mornings here too (I do this at home too). Not being able to decide what to wear or which activity to participate in took too much energy and time. By getting too caught up on the “outer garment” I missed out on fully nurturing the “inner self”. Perhaps I still have some work to do on self-acceptance, trust, and letting go.
- During the walking in the present moment activity, I walked too fast and didn’t experience the full benefit of being in the moment. I was too concerned with getting the job done and doing it right. I realize that I experience a lot of my life in that way.
- One other lead moment for me was not finding enough time to talk to Vicki. Over the years of coming here, Vicki has become a special friend and I enjoy being in her company. I regretted not being able to spend more quality time with her. Also, I picked her stone and needed to learn more about her alchemy experience. Honestly, I think the lead in this was more about my own ego and my fear of how I would sound during the stone exchange since I did not feel that I had acquired enough information. Again, it’s about perfectionism.