I’ve been thinking about the idea of retreats lately – from my usual idea about them, like the healthy weight and lifestyle retreat that first came to as a guest 7 years ago this month – to all the one’s that I’ve learned about since. With incredibly diverse agenda’s (from yoga and spirituality to white water rafting and adventures), what struck me suddenly was that almost always they were set outdoors in a place of great natural beauty. A place to say, “stop the world (for a week or so) I want to get off and find where I left me.”
As I considered and pondered this observation to try and clearly define what it is about nature that makes self-reflection easy, stress melt away while the spirit soars, I couldn’t really find a definition that worked. Then I was chased by Gertie, and began to see things more clearly.
Who is Gertie? Well, first her full name is Gertie the Birdie. She’s a female tufted grouse that has adopted Green Mountain’s staff and guests as her own. Showing up one day with a odd aura of tameness about her, she likes to sit with participants, cooing softly while they speak to her, follow you anywhere – around the track and trails, and would come into the building if we let her. No one drives off without a lecture from her to be safe and come back soon.
Gertie has quickly become the most popular “instructor,” with her own fan club and a long list of women that ascribe a lot of emotional healing to her “classes.” It finally hit me why nature “works” – the raw honesty of nature works as a crucible on the human mind and spirit to refine you to your essence. Your roles strip off one by one – not a wife, mother, daughter, employee, employer, just a person; material wealth or possessions are of no consequence to a grouse, or a mountain, or a sunset; intellect has no influence on a waterfall….so you become you – the real, unadorned, essential you.
Much time and effort goes into seeking ideas, experiences, or things that will make us feel like “the real you.” I suggest that you go outside and say “hi” to the sky, the trees, and maybe a bird or two. Gertie and I both wish you a peaceful day.