According to Socrates, an unexamined life is not worth living. What do you think? When was the last time you took some time out to examine your life? And if you have, what have you done as a result of that exercise?
A few years ago, I went on a Crossroads Retreat for the first time. I went again last year. I’m getting set to go along again, this time in a different capacity.
This is one of the healing environments I referred to in an earlier piece. It was a very rich experience, most significant of which was my encounter with a gate – a real physical gate. I’ve written about it elsewhere and reproduce excerpts here:
I’d gone for a stroll around the lovely gardens of the monastery venue of the retreat and came across a shut gate. There were no instructions on the gate. There was no one around to ask if it was okay to go through the gate. Indeed it appeared as though the gate was firmly locked; if there were a sign, it would have read, “Trespassers shall be prosecuted.” I stood there for a while, looking around to find any of the guides; there was none in sight.
Eventually, I tentatively reached across to the other side of the gate…pulled back the bolt…pushed open the gate. Then waited. Nothing happened. No one told me off. I wasn’t struck down by lightening… I therefore walked through the gate, tentatively at first… and carried on walking along the path, thinking, ‘So all I needed to do was just open the gate and walk through!’ As I carried on walking, I approached a larger gate. By the time I got to it, one of the retreat guides was coming through; she opened it and held it wide open for me to walk through – into a much wider, open space. I recall standing in that wide open green space dotted with trees… strong, enduring trees, and breathing in the new possibilities that whole experience was speaking to me about.
I am continuing to learn that the things that try to hinder us are not always as mighty as they might seem. If we need to get somewhere (be it the office, our home or the fields; or be it our goals, our dreams or aspirations), barriers, doors, fences and gates are not immutable. Neither are they immovable nor impenetrable. They are there to be discovered and opened, scaled or glided through.
What are you going to do about the barriers in your life today?
Here’s a photo of that very gate. I have an open version of it on my bedroom wall, speaking these truths to me each time I look at it.
In a couple of days, I’m going again on a Crossroads Retreat, this time as a volunteer Retreat Guide. Although I’ll be part of a team of guides supporting the retreatants, I will have some space for my own personal retreating while enjoying being amongst one of my healing communities.
In preparation for my time away, and in anticipation of the very busy schedule I’ll have to catch up on on my return mid next week, I am taking a break from writing to you again until Sunday 23rd October. I will be thinking of you, of course, and I hope you do take some time out to retreat, reflect, re-examine, recharge and re-orientate as necessary…