Steady as a Rock, Rooted Like a Tree

Jamie Lee presenting at Chrysalis

Sometimes when we get out of our own way, magic happens.

This past weekend I was a presenter at Chrysalis, a 4-day Presbyterian woman’s retreat outside of Brainerd.  These women are serious about both their interior lives and their sense of play.  The retreat is designed to take you inside to explore and examine this human and spiritual life, but they have such a sense of fun.  There was singing, art, dancing, tie dye, beads, and lots and lots of laughter.  One morning I was in danger of sleeping in when I heard all of these women laughing on the front lawn.  What an amazing alarm clock.

For me, the experience was very special.  I did not “stand above” as the keynote, but joined the journey simply sharing stories and my learning with them.  The topic for all four days was “We are All Related.”  We started by exploring the relationship with our own selves and then moved out like a ripple on the lake to relationships with others, family, community and finally spirit.

At one point I was explaining how the brain learns, the neurons forming dendrites and reaching out toward one another.   To illustrate I had everyone imagine that each round table was a neuron in the brain and sitting around the neuron are the nubs of learning, potential dendrites—the women themselves.  They began to “grow” and reach other across the room toward one another, never touching, only reaching.  In the brain, the mystery happens in the space between these dendrites called “the synapse.”  It sounds like a heady topic, but illustrating it this way was fun, and we got it.  The brain loves to learn.  (See the picture for this image of a “human” brain.  Do I look like I am having fun?)

The high moment for me was when I asked all of the women to stand and feel the power and resilience of their ancestral lineage behind them, gaining strength from it without feeling a need to “fix” anything—in fact understanding that it is not our “place” to fix the suffering of those who came before.  If that wasn’t powerful enough, Geralyn, one of the musicians, raced up and said we needed to sing a song.  She led the room full of women into the song.  The lyrics were:

Steady as a rock, Rooted as a tree,

I am here, Standing strong in my right place

I think everyone in the room felt the power of that moment.  We are women, standing strong in our right place.

We spent some time talking about suffering.  In an earlier post (Grace . . . and suffering) I had the realization that suffering cannot be removed as long as we love.  So, during the retreat I had explained that we all wear our medals of suffering on our chests–the medals of childbirth, child loss, loss of loved ones, illness . . . death.  We all have our shining medals, and they are a symbol of all we have survived and stood strong with.

Our exploration gained real depth as the long weekend unfolded.  People shared their stories with me, came to give me a hug, thanked me for sharing myself with them.  It was an emotional experience for me.   I have often wondered since moving to northern MN if my teaching this way was done.   Each time I considered that it may be over, I’ve felt such a deep sadness.  I love working with others, men and women both, and would feel such a loss if it were done just because I had chosen to live in the north woods.  This past weekend was so affirming to me that it is not over—just in transition and perhaps even growing in a new direction.  I felt so empowered to be able to freely talk about our spirit in relationship to our overall development.  I realized that just talking about brains and bodies is kind of empty unless we are wrapping the whole thing with spirit.  So maybe there is a new path opening up for me.  Too often I stay shy of the topic of spiritual development—such a hornet’s nest–and yet for me all development is spiritual development.

In this retreat I turned on my blender and made a smoothie of all the things I had learned.  I talked NLP and constellation and structural tension and brain development . . . and spirit.

By Sunday when I was driving home, I was exhausted but deeply satisfied.  I had made new friends, journeyed together into that mysterious place–the heart–and had a lot of fun doing it all.

One evening toward the end of the retreat, I sat out on the dock at dusk watching the lake.  The minnows and small fish were feeding on something just on the surface.  Each time a little minnow popped up to grab something it created a circle that rippled outwardly.  The ripples met each other and formed an intricate pattern.  The surface of the lake was alive with circles within circles within circles and I thought of “we are all related.”  Our sphere of energy goes out from us and intersects with others in a mysterious linking up that goes on and on through time and space.   It was both peaceful and reassuring.  Hidden in the ripples is the message, “you are never alone.”

Like I said.  Magic.

Oh, by the way, did I tell you that Clearwater Forest Retreat Center is gorgeous?

Clearwater Forest Presbyterian Retreat Center--Eagle Lodge

It is a Presbyterian retreat center, but these women’s retreats are inclusive and not exclusive.  They do them twice a year for women who want to deepen their lives. Here is a link to the Chrysalis site in case you are interested.

If some of my new friends are checking in for the first time, welcome.  I hope you will subscribe to get my weekly posts and also share my link with others.  You can subscribe below or in the upper right hand corner of the blog.

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Steady as a Rock, Rooted Like a Tree — 15 Comments

  1. Jamie, I love hearing about Chrysalis and your experience there. It sounds like it would be right up my “alley”
    I am also thrilled to hear that it was a reassuring experience and that you felt a richness when you could talk about spirit. We have so much ahead of us even in our grandmother years. These are the richest years.

  2. I loved reading the story about your retreat. Unfolding can take so many forms and we never really know how and when it will happen. Love your sharing through your blog!

    • Thanks Leanne,
      You are as steady as a rock yourself. I always love getting your comments and knowing you have taken the time to bring something inside for yourself. It makes the weekly effort well worth it. Feel better!

  3. It sounds like a weekend of fun, learning, relaxation, and renewal. All the things a retreat should be. It makes me want to put one in my schedule very soon. Thanks for sharing! ~ Peggy

    • It was great. I am going to figure out how to do more of that kind of gathering. We so need community and spirit coming together to shine up the world. Thanks for stopping in. I always appreciate your comments.

    • Hi Bill,

      How are you? I haven’t heard from you lately–it was nice to see you leave a comment again. I always treasure your thoughtful comments and you in general. Hope you are doing well.

  4. Jamie,

    What a wonderful retreat we had this summer! Thank you for spending time with us and for sharing your stories, humor, and spirit – such a beautiful spirit, I think. The piece you shared about ancestral lineage was especially moving for me.

    I am so happy that you enjoyed the entire experience. The Clearwater Chrysalis motto is Women Together Nurturing Body, Mind, and Spirit. I think we do that very well. And, you’re right. We love to laugh. So, welcome to the family of Chrysalis sisters–who, wherever we are, are standing in our rightful place!

    I did not get a chance to say goodbye to you after our closing circle, but am now sending you a cyber hug. You’re pretty terrific!


    • Hi Val,

      Your words mean a lot to me. There really was something that was magical about our days together. I am back in the garden taking care of my harvest but smiling all the while.

  5. Ditto to everything Val said!! I also really valued our discussion and sharing of Washaka. I am looking forward to discussing it someday with my grandson.

    I’ve already shared some of your work re: ancestral lineage with friends as we were discussing birth order at our choir pot luck last night. Magic happened as others shared their birth order stories and gained insight into why they never felt like a first born, etc. So much food for thought from you…I’ll be digesting it for sometime.

    I’m looking forward to exploring your website and all of the links…and also to crossing paths again.


    • Hi Geralyn,

      Thanks for connecting here with me. I had a sudden spike on my blog today. I want to thank you again for helping my get more grounded above the lakeside. That was wonderful. I know you were putting out so much energy over the four days as well, so to take the time to get my head straight was special. Wow, what a fun time.

  6. Hi Jamie, It was so wonderful to share the weekend with you. Thank you so much for Blessing us with your Wisdom. I am still trying to put my finger on it, but this camp was very different. I am sure it was just has something to do with the grief and loss of my brother last winter. I do know that Clearwater is a “Safe” place for Lori to be Lori. I have been to 10+ Chrysalis retreats and each time it truly turns into a deep spiritual experience. Wow! Did that happen this time on so many levels. 🙂

    I did find myself in a different role at this camp. I am usually the helper and the giver. As the weekend progressed,I was able to let go of that “Mask” and let friends carry me. For the first time, I even missed a workshop and just relaxed and visited with a new friend in our cabin.

    The strength of our community is really Awesome. I missed home, but it is hard to leave the power and Love of my Chrysalis Sisters. Thank you for giving me “Permission” to cry and be sad. Sounds kinda funny typing it, but I really think your nudge was key to my healing process… It feels good to be able to cry and miss my brother.

    I look forward to having our paths cross in the future.
    Peace to you friend,

    PS Love the Dendrite picture.

  7. Jamie – I love the image you wrote: put it all in the blender and make a smoothie of it! It makes me smile to think of all the niggling negative thoughts going into the blender with the many more beautiful thoughts and memories. What a delicious smoothie! Thank you, Jamie.

  8. Jamie: I cannot tell you you how much the Chrysalis weekend meant to me. I felt a special bond to you as you touched on how we are all related in life.It has made me appreciate my relationships and bonds I have with my family, faith, and friends. I still think about the new people I met this year and the effect they had on me. I have talked to people at work and a friend in Maine and they all want to come next year to Clearwater. I hope that you will be there to share your thoughts again. Thank you for being a special influence in my life. May you be blessed with good health,family, friends,and spiritual happiness. Peace, Jan

  9. Hi Jan,
    Thanks for leaving me such a thoughtful message. I truly got as much as I gave from this wonderful group. It was such a pleasure to be around all of you. I hope that our paths will cross again and again. We shall see what the new year brings.


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