This retreat offers the precious opportunity to engage deeply and significantly with the truths of death and life and thus with beauty and loss, with suffering and joy. Previously entitled ‘Facing Death, Embracing Life’, the newer title holds the many ways that past retreatants, whether younger or older, have expressed their appreciation.
Some retreatants have been able to explore the loss of others or their own mortality with tenderness and courage. Others have been moved by the wider truths of transience and the passing of things. Then there is the turning to life: to beauty, forgiveness, gratitude, love, to sunshine and May blossom, and that we can live meaningful lives for ourselves and for the benefit of all beings. Unusually, I can leave it to others to continue this page for me:
Ratnavandana, a team member and very senior retreat leader:
It’s a brave retreat. There’s nothing else like it in any of our retreat centre programmes. It provides an important opportunity to reflect on whatever arises from facing death in whatever form that comes, be it a direct experience of impermanence, the loss of a loved one, or one’s own situation. Getting beneath the surface, going deeper, is a feature of the retreat which people value in a situation which is clearly held and safe.
Gratitude seems a glorious consequence of these reflections, bringing home what is of true value in our lives and an appreciation that is much richer for the awareness of what has been or might be lost. I love the wide range of women who come. That and the universal nature of the theme bring such a strong sense of us all being in this together.’
‘This is one of the most profound retreats I’ve been on. It’s a retreat about how we attach, how we let go, how we meet the flow and the truth of the human condition. We engaged so deeply through sharing our vulnerability and our aspirations. It goes beyond words. It’s about sharing what’s human, ordinary, everyday, weighty, heart-touching, opening, releasing ... joys and sorrows, loss and love. I came with a friend and that was really good. I’ve been thinking that we could come with friends from a study group or gfr group or chapter.’
And from other retreatants:
‘As we heard about others’ losses and contemplated the universality of that experience, I felt a deeper sense of compassion and interconnectedness arise. At the same time, I experienced a growing lightness of being. All this led to a strong sense of gratitude for being in this body, in this place, in this time, amongst others teaching and practising the Dharma.’
‘The silence was beautiful, so beautiful.’
Led by a very experienced team, the programme includes meditation, reflection, personal presentations from the team, some shared activities, poetry, and ritual and devotion. We will be in silence for about three and a half days. There will be time and space to relax or be creative.