By Jennelle Dippel
I've been watching a lot of space movies lately. It is quite comforting to me to imagine the vastness of the Universe. The Something so outside of myself. The Something much bigger. I imagine the quietness out there, and the slowness of a place without gravity. That might be a sign of how unsettled life here on Earth has felt during the last year.
A few weeks ago I attended Refugia Retreats' Listening to your Life, a one-day event hosted in the breathtaking Ghost Valley. I had grown up frequently attending camps and retreats but, as can happen when you begin adulting, I'd lost touch with those special times of drawing nearer to myself, others, and nature.
Last to arrive, I joined a circle of people whose faces radiated different stories, backgrounds, and reasons for showing up. Though perhaps nervous, this group of strangers softened fairly quickly into beautiful exchanges of vulnerability as we were guided through reflections about the past year. As unique as our stories were, it was clear that as we let ourselves be seen, we could see ourselves in each other. The Universe bound us together through our shared knowledge of both struggle and hope. It was the Something so outside of us. The Something much bigger.
Later, as I surveyed the plentiful options of where to cozy up for some self-reflection, I instead felt guided to the path that led from the top of the property to the riverbed below. My weak footwear choice had me slipping and sliding down the incline while I held on to branches and side-stepped into snow banks. In my hand I held a rock from one of our reflective activities and on it was written the word fear. It was to describe my 2016. I stopped and held it up, noticing how its shape and rough edges closely resembled the mountain towering behind it. Such a small rock. Such a small Me, in comparison. In order to continue along my trajectory, I had to make a decision. It wasn't working to carry my rock and also hold the nature-hands that were helping me down the path. I paused, almost laughed at the life metaphor, and threw my rock away. I let go of my fear and held on to the Earth, which sat unmovable around me. I held on to the strength and groundedness of the Universe. The Something so outside of myself. The Something much bigger.
These small moments are the kind that shape our lives - the choosing to join in life when we feel nothing but chaos, and to put ourselves in places where we can look up to the heavens. Where we can connect to the Something Big.
Thank you to Refugia for drawing me out to that place, where I could dip my toes in the flow of the Universe and trade in my rock for a bigger one.