i can’t really express what my trip to the center for whole communities meant to me, and i don’t want to try. i’ll just say it’s sent me on another path in my life’s journey, helped me to heal, and have a really good time. the photos for the most will tell the story. i don’t want to give to much away for anyone that might be a part of future retreats either, as i think a certain amount of surprise is in order.
the center for whole communities is situated in the mad river valley of vermont’s green mountains. helen and peter are the founders and care takers, and generally act as the most amazing hosts and occasional teachers. they stay on site with their two children, and raise sheep, and blueberries, and seem to do all kinds of other wonderful things.
sleeping was in tents and yurts up in the woods. a lovely bathhouse with outdoor showers and a wood fired hot tub made sure everyone’s bathing needs were taken care of. it was made of cob and had a living roof. all the water was spring fed and warmed with a passive solar hot water heater – which for the record worked very well.
multiple times a day we would make the quarter mile walk down the hill to the barns, each day i would marvel at the view of the mad river valley and think, tomorrow i won’t be so overwhelmed by the sight, but each morning was a new view. durning the day the path was easy to find, but at night especially on cloudy nights it could be hard to see. a trail of kerosene lanterns would be lit to guide our way. the hairy icelandic sheep grazed on the hillside.
during the afternoons, and other free times a crew would be furiously carving away at spoons. in the morning during silent meditation you would hear the constant rhythmic sound of knives on wood. in the afternoon when silence was over, you would hear the constant sound of laughter. we all started with the same type of wood, about the same size block and the same instruction. it was lovely to see the different personalities come out of the carving process, both in the way people carved and in what they carved. i was not able to finish my spoon completely before i left, i still had much sanding to do. but i was proud to finish my first spoon when i got home. it’s now sitting in the kitchen drawer, waiting to serve at meals. i thought that my retreat would really shape me professionally, but actually i think it shaped me more personally. much of what i’ve been thinking about will take a long time to process though. i’m so thankful for all the wonderful people that i was able to meet, and all the wonderful teachers at the center.