For the last five years, I've come on a writing retreat to my soul place on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle. Aldermarsh is a small cluster of elegant buildings on 5 acres on a country road. It is dark here at night with only a faint glow of the city to the south. It is quiet here at night. You can hear owls and coyotes and the wind in the trees. I walked for 45 minutes on the road here yesterday and in that time only four cars and one truck passed me.
I came the first time by myself. I had friends living on the island to see every couple of days and the owner here to help me with the wood stove and the generator when the power went out in a wind storm. Now I come with several other women, people I enjoy being in silence and in conversation with. We're far enough north that the days are very short and the evenings long and slow. We stay in silence most of the day. Some of us writing, others reading, resting, reflecting. At night we play cards and chat and laugh.
Tonight we will have our New Year's Eve ritual after dinner. We will sit in circle and share our answers to several questions.
What do we want to release from our lives at this time?
What do we want to welcome in?
What are we most glad about from 2011?
What do we most want to be in 2012? To have? To do?
What is our clearest purpose (reason for being) at this time?
What is our biggest challenge?
What do we fear?
What do we long for?
Each year this produces a very rich conversation, a deep intimacy amoung friends, and a strong space for us to hold these desires for each other.
If you decide to do this ritual by yourself or with others, I'd love to hear how it goes.
Happy New Year, Jill