I got home from my retreat yesterday afternoon, exhausted from a week of too little sleep. The inner work we did took great effort, too, and gave us great rewards. I can’t count the number of times I looked around the zendo, awed and grateful—all these brave people who had come to do this hard work together. On the last day we sat in our circle and focused on each person one at a time. We offered words or phrases that emerged for us, images of what we remembered or who we saw them to be. The one who was the center of attention just sat soaking it in, all these wonderful and sometimes funny things people believed or remembered about them. I was afraid when it was my turn no one would have anything to say. Or, maybe even worse, people would say a few things, and then there’d be silence until the rest of my time ran out, and the quiet bell rang. Instead when it came around to me, the words were steady, plentiful. I only wish I could remember more of them so I could hold them to me now and then for comfort, reassurance, hope. I remember things said about my big heart and sitting there receiving each one as it came. At the end someone said, “Devoted.” The last word spoken was Susan’s. “Impeccable,” she said, and met my eyes. I think I raised an eyebrow at that. Me? I was grinning through my tears while they showered me with shining things they saw in me. They drifted into me as they fell, warm, delicate, like sacraments, like blessings.
How wonderful to hear others give such heartwarming feedback. It can come as a kind of shock sometimes because it vividly shows the critical voices in our heads are mostly wrong.
I would add the following to the Qualities of Riba list: a welcoming spirit that wants to genuinely connect with others; conscientiousness (the reason you’re a phenomenal Distance Ed professor — you take the time to write encouraging responses to students and provide detailed notes on their assignments.) I also like your quirkiness… it’s the first quality I seek in a friend.
Oh, how dear of you to add your own to the “list,” Bart! :)
It was a pretty amazing group. I feel so lucky to have been a part of it. I hope to include more of my memories from the time there in future posts. My own unkind voices were definitely present at times. ;-)
Thank you so much, Bart.