By Jason Courtis
Operations Manager, Saratoga Springs Retreat Center
Bringing together 21 participants, from eight different centers…
Oh, the gift of knowing that you’re not banging away at this thing called ‘holding conscious space’ all on your own in the world! That was such a rich take away for me from the gathering. I ‘know’ other centers are out there–banging away–but to have an embodied, in-person experience of that was profoundly energizing. Especially as the day before, with the tyranny of the TO DO list clamoring, the presentation undone, I was thinking, ‘Oh Jeez, why did I agree to spin ONE MORE PLATE!’ But so worth it.
To come together, to be seen, encouraged, reminded of purpose, to build community: priceless. At some point Deirdre mentioned that at the heart of the Holistic Centers Network was the vision of Eileen Caddy, one of the founders of Findhorn, of a connected web of conscious centers around the world. That dream landed in my soul as thrilling and powerful, especially as I was in the midst of it actually happening during our two days together 22-23 October.
And then of course there was the meat of the meet: diving deep into fire issues; the heartbreak and triumphs of Harbin Hot Springs’ phoenix journey; the pouring out of shared experience and wisdom; the hard data of grants and protocols; the fire chief running in, and then out and away as his radio demanded; the land tour and delight of the magical mineral springs. All held in the container of delicious food around the fire, soaking in the tub, sharing and unwinding: actually getting to be guests in our own organisations.
“What a pleasure to be part of this shared passion and commitment retreat centers have in freely collaborating to further a kinder, gentler and more enlightened world,” said Chas Nol, Managing Director of Saratoga Springs Retreat Center. “Together, at this gathering, we demonstrated this commitment, again.”
Deirdre Davis, Managing Director of Harbin Hot Springs shared a valuable insight. “At the end of the ‘Living with Fire’ panel, I could feel how the endurance of our Retreat Centers now rests in our willingness to remember how to tend to our local ecosystems with active restoration of our watersheds through permaculture practices and the reimplementation of prescribed fire, both of which were used by the Native Americans for thousands of years. Even though it is not always easy to speak out at the gathering, I feel there is less burden to carry by sharing insights and emotion with such a caring group of people and look forward to future conversations with other Retreat Centers as to some of their interesting and proactive solutions.”
“Thank you everyone for showing up fully, for so much flow and fun co-creating with Deirdre from Harbin, Christine from HCN and Jo from Saratoga, for the support to run that extra mile to make it all happen,” said Jason. “Let’s do it again! Spin that conscious web a little further, to know in-person that we are not alone in this challenging, magnificent endeavor.”
Dates of the next NorCal Gathering will be announced soon.