I’m a few hours back from a weekend retreat hosted by the Center for Courage and Renewal. I’ve long been a big fan of their mission, which is based on the work of speaker, writer, and activist Parker Palmer. What I experienced over the weekend is the closest thing I think I can get to experiencing what it is like to be a student at PSCS. It was honoring, supportive, challenging and uplifting. In another word, it was wonderful.
Over the weekend, I found myself telling the story of the Give & Take Garden that I’ve twice before written about (May 20 and July 4). Clearly, the garden has had a big impact on me, touching me deeply and providing me a renewable source of inspiration. The retreat concluded with what we at PSCS would call an appreciation circle, an opportunity for participants to voice our feelings and reactions to the 3 days worth of activities. As I thought about what to say, an image of the Give & Take Garden came to my mind.
Put simply, what I experienced at the retreat was a form of giving and receiving at a core human level. At that level, at least in my experience, giving and receiving become the same thing. You can’t give without someone receiving, and you can’t receive without someone giving. This concept was fundamental all weekend, from the way the facilitators invited us to participate to how the participants treated each other. The giving and receiving included the location (St. Andrew’s House Retreat & Conference Center in Union, WA), and the food that was lovingly and mindfully prepared for us.
As part of our closing ceremony, the facilitators gave us a token with the word “Courage” on it. I held mine in my hand as we wrapped up, clear that after I got home and before today ended I would place it in the Give & Take Garden. I trust the photos are self-explanatory.
If anyone wants to get a taste of what it’s like to be a PSCS student (or wants to experience the warmth of looking inward with others under expert facilitation), consider attending when this retreat is offered again in November.