i love freedom.
first i had to lay on the fainting couch. am i here? does this place exist for real? or is this one of my fantasies that i jot down to relieve the pressures of reality? i opened my eyes to the very inviting and very wonderful place that is this inn that was chosen for this retreat. a spiritual retreat. i could hardly wait. i slowly walked up the stairs to take it all in. to breathe the old fabrics and the new quilts made by Marilyn, the owner, herself.
i carefully looked into each room and i admit i had selected the "Angel Room" but then i turned and peered down this hallway. only the first two open doors had been claimed. the others down there were vacant. but for an older woman visiting a friend in Tryon who had the last room on the left at the end of the hall, the others were empty and waiting. i saw a door at the very end of the hall, a soft, whitish-blue door that was partially closed and yet, still, open.
i passed treasures on the walls as i walked down there that made me smile and made me sigh a little with quiet pleasure. wisdom in paint and glass and wood and fabric. i passed a pew as well. the door was indeed open and the room available, but with the age of the house and its quirks, it would not stay open all the way. i love mysteries so i pushed it open and walked in....
and claimed the room "Whimsey 1" for myself.
now i know i went there for community and companionship and this room was at the end of the hall, away from the others, but i knew i would also have my night time, my sleep time alone and i wanted to allow the house to speak to me. i meditate a great deal. it is how i have conversations with all that i believe in. this room was for me. no little quirk about it would keep me from claiming it. and the mattress was so perfect.
bag dropped off. room claimed, i went downstairs to the most lovely, large, inviting, eclectic dining room for lunch to officially start off the weekend, to meet the other women, the other widows, and our guide on this weekend. it was wonderful! we started off our weekend at noon with lunch, with sunlight streaming in so that our faces, our woes, our eyes, and our laugh lines that are etched on our faces could be seen. there was no shadows to hide in. our souls were laid bare in the beautiful dining room. we are all tired. we are all stressed. it was perfect for breaking bread together. a communion of and for widows.we named ourselves and spoke. five women and our guide and Elizabeth Woods, the founder and organizer, the driving force of Soul Widows. we are all interested in each other. we all listen to what each one of us is saying. all eyes are on the speaker and you can see that we are thinking, not arrogantly of what we are going to say and when to chime in, but really listening to what this woman and that woman, to what i was saying. listening is so very powerful.
during that lunch, i felt that we were coming closer to our own community fire though it was still only an elusive vision in my head at that moment. since then, i have come to think this is the best metaphor for what transpired this past weekend.
so at lunch, there is laughter first. i loved that. we knew tears would come, and come they did. torrents of tears, deep shuddering sobs when no tears could even come, heartbreaking to hear; but first, at this lunch, in the streaming sunlight, there was laughter. it takes strong women who do not believe they are to laugh first. desperation? black humor? morbid? yes. all those words and one more. strong.
it is proof, i believe, of the weaving of the widow's web that is happening to help each of us carry each other through this weekend. we are creating a web, a safety net with our laughter as we introduce ourselves. our later tears will soak the net to seal it and make it impossible to come unraveled. our tears will make the knots tight.
after lunch, we moved to an alcove off the front foyer. beside the entrance. there was a fire there in a stove. the flames dancing. comfy chairs were pulled around it. i loved that we were not closed off in a room off somewhere, as if in hiding, as if we were an embarrassment, as if we had something to hide. we were in an alcove ~ where a room is less a room than an embrace. we had built our shrine, or altar if you will, to our husbands. we gathered there for our first session.
Soul Widows Spiritual Retreat, the spiritual/grief working/meeting of "true minds," the whole reason for being there was about to start.