I must first begin by apologising for just how long it has been since I’ve written on this blog. I’d promised myself earlier on in the year that I’d post something once a week, but the truth is, this winter period has completely buried me under the weight of its demands. It’s been a very long time since I’d allowed myself to be quite so affected by the weight of the world, and so when the opportunity to go on a retreat with my respected teachers and peers came up, I jumped at the chance. Admittedly, I was terrified. Living with 71 strangers in the middle of the mountains for 5 days was nothing short of a nightmare, but I was proven very wrong.
Before I’d left, every time someone had asked me what this retreat was all about, my answer was “honestly? I don’t know”, and I am entirely grateful that I allowed myself to go into this as a blank slate. I had no expectations, I barely read the brief that I was given, and I knew about a handful of people going. But the trip that ensued was everything I didn’t know I needed. It gave me the opportunity to unplug and exist in the moment amongst the beauty of nature, and just breathe. And I know, I know how that sounds, but hear me out here. It is near impossible to breathe in the place that has its hands around your neck at every given minute, and the moment you cut the cord, a whole other world opens itself up to you.
So, instead of giving you a play-by-play of the retreat itself, I will share a few reflective words I put together on the journey back yesterday. Even if you are unable to take anything away from this post, you will at least be able to enjoy the things I have done over the past few days.
This is the fifth day on the road, and now that we are finally heading back towards the place that we call home, there is a crashing sense of realisation that home is no longer a place that has four walls and a door. It is not a place where one resides, but rather one which exists as a resting place for the soul. That is the thing about being able to cut one’s self off from the mundane rites of daily life – things become clear in a way that they wouldn’t otherwise and it allows you to come to the closest version of your own reality.
This journey to one’s own reality is never an easy one. It weighs down heavily upon your bones and if you aren’t prepared, it will threaten to break you. But, you are not made of glass, and you will not break. You will be rebirthed in this fire that burns, but in order to accommodate the newer and better version of yourself, you must give thanks, say a little prayer, and leave behind remnants of your old self with the utmost grace and dignity. You will always be who you are because of the things and people you have come across on your journey of life, but you are under no obligation to maintain an allegiance wherein your body, mind, and soul, do not flourish.
But, here is the thing: you do not have to do this alone. This is one of the biggest things that have been made clear on this retreat – there is an unspoken degree of love which exists amongst like-minded companions that far surpasses any version of love one may have experienced before. This retreat has been a gentle, but pressing, reminder that soul mates are seldom romantic in nature. The soul that can speak volumes without force is one that is meant to stay with your soul for as long as the heavens and the earth will allow; maybe the pairs God created aren’t just for the child-bearing wombs to spread His message, but for humankind to see the truth of His goodness and love through the being He swears by the fig, the olive, Mount Sinai, and by the city of security (Makkah), to be of the best stature. These souls will be the warm, yellow light whose shine you seek comfort from on days when exhaustion is less about a description of your physical tiredness.
Becoming aware of one’s emotional intelligence during retreats such as these is truly an enlightening experience. Though this enlightenment comes at a price, sometimes good and others bad, it is a timely reminder that no matter how many changes you make to your outward self, the predisposed direction of your soul is to do and accept good, be it at any expense. This is not to say that souls in ruins will not try and slow you down by casting darkness over you, but it is up to you to consult your heart and take from its purified state, an answer, chaste in its nature, that will allow you to move forward. This will not be easy. But life was never promised to be a breeze, and you are stronger than you let yourself believe.
Though this had originally been penned as a letter to the nomad who is wandering and wondering when they will come home, I soon realised that it is I who is that very nomad. It is I who is curious about whether it will be peace of mind welcoming me home, or four walls and an open door. It is I who has come to the realisation that you make of your life what you may, for giving it a definitive purpose and origin restricts its ability to shift, change, and/or evolve. Your world is constantly changing, be you a resident of these heavens and earth, or a nomad, roaming and travelling the realms of the universe in search of the song that settles your soul. You must live, love, and grow, for as long as it has been written.