retreat to me

Pukerua Bay
Pukerua Bay, Aotearoa NZ

Sometimes we can be seized with the idea that we need to go somewhere,
to get away from our selves,
the world,
the hustle and bustle,
the things that get in the way,
in order to become more fully our selves.
We go on pilgrimage, vision quest, we retreat to sacred places, indulge in day spas, spend spiritual days away and all sorts of other variants on this theme—and these experiences are very powerful and important.

The yearning to find ourselves is so strong, and surely once we get away we will be able to get in touch with all that we are?

And yes, you’re probably also seeing the paradox in all of this. Get away to be who we are? Leave our selves to become our selves?

Sometimes, perhaps even very often, staying with our selves is precisely what is needed.

Staying with our full selves—the murk, the difficulty, the challenge, the pleasure.

Staying and witnessing, staying and holding, staying and gently allowing change to come.

In a Serbian story I am enjoying lately, ‘The Sun God’s Castle’ adapted by Joan Aiken, the ‘hero’ of the story, Yanek, goes off on a mountain retreat. He yearns to remember the message about his destiny that the Sun God told him. Due to interference from some mischievous goblins known as vookodlaks, he simply cannot remember this vital message. (Ironically, the Sun God had counselled him to stay home in the forest helping his grandfather.)

What helps us retreat while we stay at home? How can we commit to being our full selves and remembering who we are in the distraction and difficulties, the joy and delirium of daily life? How can we listen to the wise guidance within, allow the Sun God to speak, unfold our connection to the divine with greater consciousness? I’m sure you have your own creative and contemplative ritual, one that you already practice, or perhaps there’s some little daily inner retreat you’re just about to begin…