Central Midwest Summer Retreat Report
This summer’s WomanSpirit Retreat, was held the first weekend of August at Ronora Lodge in Watervliet, MI. We were a comfortable gathering of nearly 50 women and maidens (young women). The weekend weather was perfectly sunny and warm, but not too hot or too humid. (This was especially welcome after we were drowned with rain last year.)
Our theme, “Sowing Seeds of Gratitude” was incorporated into the rituals, songs, readings, workshops and even décor. Seed packets tucked into spirals of tulle adorned the tall support poles in the main dining hall. As always, the food was fabulous and plentiful. The workshops were wonderful, while the vendors were a treat! We were surrounded by nature, with woodland walks and dips in the lake. Half a dozen young maidens bubbled with excitement and exuberance.
I want to share one incident in particular that seems to embody the mood and spirit of the entire weekend.
On Saturday morning, several members of Women & Religion headed down to the office to settle our account. Two young daughters enthusiastically accompanied us on this walk. While the day was lovely, we had business to attend to and were rather seriously minded. However, it was hard to ignore the young girls as they skipped, hopped, jumped and laughed down the road. They were filled with the joy of living and were especially thrilled to be getting a closer look at the horses.
As we approached the corral, one girl asked about the strange goggles some of the horses were wearing. Pat Reed patiently explained, in a wise grandmotherly fashion, that those were guards to keep the flies away from the horses’ eyes. . . . “After all, who would want flies in the eyes??” This comment led to uproarious giggles and contortions on the part of the young girls and prompted Pat to mention an old woman she knew “. . . who swallowed a fly. . . ” The girls were amazed, if not dumbfounded, as Pat broke into song. The girls' giddiness only grew, when the rest of us “grown ups” all chimed in at the chorus, “I don’t know why she swallowed that fly; perhaps she’ll die!” And so our walk continued, with all of us passionately singing about the absurd woman who kept swallowing bigger and bigger animals. The young girls loved it! I am not really sure what part they liked the most, the silliness of the song or the fact that all four adults were actively singing about spiders “wriggling and jiggling and tickling inside her.” Actually, I think we older girls loved it even more and we continued to sing it ‘til the very end.
I mention this “outing to the office,” because it seems to embody my experience throughout the retreat. The serious moments, such as setup and cleanup, were all tinged with laughter and enthusiastic energy. The women sharing this retreat, whether long-time friends or new acquaintances, seemed to spontaneously connect and bond with each other in a joyful, playful, even enchanted fashion. I can only hope that the magical energy continues to flow through us all, . . . .until we meet again!
Past CMwD W&R Chair