Sometimes you just want to be welcomed home.

By Nature.

And to feel completely at home in yourself – at the same time.

Sometimes you need others to help you get this feeling back.

Sometimes we are lucky enough, or have worked hard enough, to find ourselves in a place with enough of those people that we can work together to make this happen.

Recently i was lucky enough (or i’d worked hard enough; who’s to say which is more true out of the two options?) to be in one of these places. For 5 days we gathered, in rain and sunshine, across windswept hillsides and around humble little creeks, gathering leaves and twigs for our altar and asking ourselves: how can i deepen my connection with the natural world i was born into?

We chose sit spots – or they chose us. We followed our intuition to see what kind of place would sing to us, call our names, invite us in and envelop us. We awakened the mind of deep listening and gentle enquiry and we came back to our senses. We explored how it feels to be vulnerable – easier said than done – and let the creek wash parts of ourselves away, so that we could return to the world refreshed.

We made art in response to the world and gave it back as a gift. We shapeshifted through the evolving beings of this planet, from single cells floating in the womb-like brine, to flowing creatures, dragging ourselves up on land, to breathe, to climb, even to fly.

What animal are you now? Out of nowhere, the koan invites you to learn anew, to ask the animal for its gifts, to move with new freedom, to give thanks (over and over and over again).

By the time we built our Spirit Houses, we were bonded in community and flowing with greater presence, more capacity for spiritual generosity, more compassion for self and other and everything that lives and dies. We sang around a campfire, stretched, meditated, ate, slept, dreamt.

Then, we had to leave. This is another reason why we call it a retreat; because it is only temporary, not permanent, an opportunity to sit with the greatest teacher of all, life, and to let it have its way with us until we were transformed, even just a little bit, sculpted by the wind and rain, the sun and the season, taken apart and put back together and sent out into the world as fledglings all over again, to learn to fly and hope that others might be inspired to join us.