We Gather

It has been more than a week since I returned from a 5-Day gathering with twenty other women at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.

And before I go further, I must share that it took every bit of strength I had not to insert, oh, ten or twenty bright, inspiring adjectives in front of the words "gathering" and "women" in that sentence.

I have chosen to keep that first sentence simple and somewhat nondescript for two reasons. First, because I think it is pretty common knowledge these days that when strong, creative, passionate women meet together in person for the purpose of connection, collaboration, rest, and just plain fun, magic happens. We all know this, right? It happens all over the world in all kinds of settings within a wide array of structures - art workshops in Bali, yoga retreats on the east coast, or even a handful of friends sharing an apartment for a weekend in New York City. The details might be different, but the basic story, really, is the same:  Women gather. Magic happens. Everyone is transformed.

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I also dismissed with the adjectives because trying to describe what we were up to in Big Sur has, so far, been a bit tricky, and I'm one of the facilitators! I am getting my elevator pitch down a little bit better as I am called upon to describe our retreat again and again, but I have also developed a strange fondness for not being able to offer a succinct, tightly-knit story of how this all came to be. There has been a fluid, open-air quality to this endeavor from day one, and I am not especially eager to start trying to fit it in an enclosed, boxy space.

The best way I explain it in one sentence is this:

"Our aim is to offer tools, support, stories, experiences - and time to rest - that will encourage and assist our community's Beacons and Luminaries to go further with the work they are already doing in the world and for the world - including (perhaps most especially) in their personal lives."

This was written right here, right now - on the fly, and without the input of my two amazing (couldn't resist!) partners. This isn't official or set in stone or final. It is the way I am describing it today, and it will very likely continue to evolve, just as this entire pet project of ours is bound to do.

When Pixie, Maya and I sat down to plan this retreat, we started with a list. This list was a philosophy, a set of values. These were our anchors. By starting with these anchors and forming our foundation - and then creating an event from that - we were able to work within a powerful, beautifully aligned structure that calmly withstood the usual bumps and tangles. I came away from our retreat feeling incredibly proud of the interplay between the three of us, the respect we showed one another - and our guests - and the fact that everyone there saw, through countless tiny details, evidence of the anchors that had been guiding us from the beginning. This is what this experience was about for me, and why it has been the only major project I made a commitment to during this year of moving and transition and change.

We are continuing with this work, even not knowing exactly where it is going. What we do know is that we have another 21 spaces reserved for March 3-8, 2013. Registration opens Monday, September 17, 2012 at 5:00am PST. Details are right here. I hope to see you there...when we gather again.

Christine Mason Miller

Santa Barbara, CA

Writer * Artist * Storyteller * Guide