“The movement toward gratitude, authenticity and union is the natural and organic inner work of the second half of life.
-Fr. Richard Rohr
So often, we focus on the gaps, emptiness, wounds and unfulfilled aspects of our lives, but forget or take for granted the simple and familiar gifts that are always with us. Retreat with us as our Elder and Weaver Jared Adams leads us in exploring and practicing gratitude. Small group sharing and time in nature will offer unique opportunities to reveal gifts and insights in ourselves and our group.
Facilitated by: Jared Adams & Indiana-Michigan M.A.L.E.s Elders
An incredible, recording setting 23 men gathered at The Hermitage on January 29th and 30th to engage in ritual and dialogue around the “subtle and profound nature of gratitude” as one attendee described it. Through ritual, teaching, time in nature and group gatherings we approached the concept of gratitude as not just “thank you” but as a ‘deep and wide’ way of being. As we assembled Friday evening our center piece was crowded with the ‘wide’ aspect of gratitude for all the toys and joys we may have in our lives on the surface. As the weekend continued, our minds quieted and we looked more inward. The centerpiece eventually dwindled to a single, small statute of the naked David sculpture, paradoxically simple, yet reflecting our ‘deep’ gratitude for our shared manhood as brothers and to the larger life around us.
Jared Adams opened the retreat with a session on how to maintain a sense of gratitude yet not be in denial of life’s difficulties and how to approach them with an open heart. From examining the ‘in-betweens’ and our inner ‘Gratitude Ratios,’ we explored examples and angles that tried to encourage us to live fully anchored with a deep appreciation and awareness to the present. We walked through scenarios that challenged us to think of and consider the significance of all the processes of life’s events and how to separate ‘gratitude’ from merely being gratified. David Wenger and Don Stone led us in song as we walked out to the bonfire for a quiet closing meditation.
On Saturday morning, the sun gave us an amazing opportunity to be grateful in its warming rays as Tom Pawluck led us in a contemplative sit and meditation. Richard Gibson brought his incredible insight and wisdom to the group with a multi-layered morning session. As he prepared us to encounter the ‘shadow’ of gratitude, he engaged the heart to be brutally honest and self evaluating through a deeply personal and powerful series of layered questions he crafted. His sharing, stories and honesty set the tone for the day. He stirred us to not only be refreshingly aware of the ‘grace of gratitude,’ but to view our lives from a broad, enlightening way as we considered our ‘pearl of great price’ while out in the ‘green scripture.’
After lunch, Gary Burbridge walked us through a poignant yet wonderful poem that gave us much to ponder as we had a few moments of being together in silence.
Nick Simons led the final session. He did a wonderful job of incorporating and building on everything presented before to then led us into a deep, sensory level of external gratitude. This involved several personal and touching stories that engaged and centered. Already having processed gratitude with our heads and hearts, he led us into a beautiful session using our hands. He was thoughtful, inspired and passionate as he shared yet his mature leadership was careful and cautious to make sure the experience had plenty of ‘room’ to teach as well. Paring off, we alternated being led, with our eyes closed, by our partner. Trusting them as they walked and guided us, they would lead us to various objects outside so that we encountered our surroundings with a profound, grateful sense of touch.
In closing we were reminded of our small place in the universe and yet how powerful and impacting our relationships, words and energy are as they emanate from us. As he masterfully did the night before, Don brought the weekend to a close encouraging us to live with awareness and grateful hearts that are not easily switched on and off but maintain the tensions of life while cherishing each moment for the gifts that they are.