Day 177: Evening Retreat

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This has been a busy week with several long days of work and a day spent at the hospital while my stepdad had a lengthy and risky surgery. Thankfully, he is recovering well. And it’s also been an interesting week of firsts, as almost every day has seen a shift away from the planned first and the arrival of something unexpected. Today, in between showing property to great clients, I drove my grandson, Dayan, to a dental appointment and then to a friend’s house.  We were discussing my busyness and how my firsts had all changed this week. He asked what my first for today was, and I answered that I had not decided yet. “Yaya” he said, “It’s 1:30. You should know what your first is!” I love this young man and how he holds me accountable!

And then this clever teen proceeded to come up with my first for today. Dayan suggested that I have a quiet, peaceful time in my garden. That alone would not be a first, as I have spent many peaceful evenings in the garden. However, Dayan added that to lie down and gaze into the sky, while doing nothing else, would be a first.  What a lovely idea for a new experience. As I finished another longish day, I decided Dayan’s suggestion was perfect.

As the sun began to set, I gathered a variety of candles and placed them on the brick patio, near my metal containers full of sweetly scented petunias and blooming lavender. I lit candles in the meditation area and also in the Japanese garden and hosta garden. I started a small fire in the fire pit. And lastly, I placed a thick quilted throw, in shades of cream, yellow and blue, on the brick patio and added a couple of plump throw pillows. My beautiful, serene retreat area was ready.

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A cool, fresh breeze stirred around me as I settled onto the quilt. The warmth of the bricks radiated upward through the quilt in gentle waves, making the space surprising cozy and comfortable. I stretched out and inhaled deeply, enjoying the scent of the nearby flowers and herbs, and felt tension and fatigue leave my body as I exhaled. Bliss. The fire crackled and the candles, deep within their glass containers, cast a warm glow. Overhead, the sky turned a dark velvety blue and the first stars and Mars, the red planet, appeared. As I did when I was a child, I made a wish on the first star I saw.

Starlight twinkled above and below, flitting about the backyard, fireflies answered with twinkles of their own. I spent a very peaceful hour enjoying this sanctuary and allowing the busyness of the past two days to slip away. Before I put my things away, I sat on the quilt and held a few yoga poses, stretching, breathing, opening. Resting there a moment more, several other possible firsts came to mind that would allow me to enjoy the backyard further.

I am very grateful to Dayan for suggesting this restorative first. How important it is to my soul to seek solitude and quiet my mind so my spirit can soar. Mark Buchanan says, “Most of the things we need, to be most fully alive, never come in busyness. They grow in rest.” I agree, wholeheartedly.

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