This week I had the marvelous, bounteous blessing of being able to spend a few days in Blayne Cottage at St. Andrews Retreat House. I went there to buckle down and get some writing done on my dissertation, and I thank those of you who prayed so hard for me to accomplish just that. As hoped, getting away from day-to-day distractions helped me complete another, big technical chapter, which I celebrated with some Olympic Mountain Ice Cream (yum!). What I didn’t expect was the deep renewal I would experience while writing about ways to help women heal from the trauma that comes with a cancer journey like mine.
Even though my journey began in 2006 – ten years ago this February – reading and writing about the physically and emotionally rigorous demands of going through cancer for other women brought me right back into those moments. Turns out I had actually come full circle to Harmony Hill Retreat Center, right next door to St. Andrews House. Founder Gretchen Schodde – last year’s winner of the prestigious Governor’s Medal of Merit – actually began her vision for a wellness center while staying at St. Andrews house, some thirty years ago.
Back when I was going through treatments, and lived in Juneau, Alaska, some of my friends recommended Harmony Hill as a destination for healing. At the time, I couldn’t afford it, but just this week, when unpacking yet another box of books for my paper, I found a folder labeled “Harmony Hill.” On November 14, I will facilitate a symposium there, as part of my dissertation project, with keynote speaker Dr. Kristine Rinn, my medical oncologist when I was treated at Swedish Cancer Center in Seattle. Circles.
Before I left the cottage, I sat and wrote this reflection for you on the deck in the setting sun. An evening gathering of water birds, fish, and sea animals (is that a seal out there?) play in the tide rising beneath my feet. Their movement causes ripples in the water, whose circles expand and flow outward, joining one another. It’s like that for us poor humans too, isn’t it? Our lives reach out, connect with other lives, other stories, sometimes even meeting earlier cycles from our own story. Over and over again, in spirals; definitely not in straight lines.
As the seasons of your life change and in the circles of your experience, may you, too, experience such deep renewal and abiding Grace.
Yours on the journey,