In between the beginning and the end, there was a week at Wildacres in the North Carolina mountains.
This was my third time staying there, and I'm a fan for life. I wrote stories and letters, meditated, napped, ate three meals a day prepared by others, walked in the woods, read, laughed, met new people, heard beautiful music and words. Sometimes I sat on the back porch of my dorm and rocked and did nothing.
In the middle of the week, we had just finished breakfast when the sun disappeared and a huge storm came up. The dining hall, where I was, is mostly glass, and the storm raged against the windows and blew doors open. One woman came rushing back into the hall, alarmed by the strength of the storm and thankful that she had been able to get back inside safely. As I walked around the grounds afterward, I realized that there was a lot of damage: downed trees, upturned and damaged rocking chairs, broken glass where pictures had been blown off the walls.
The fact that we were all okay at the end of the morning was a blessing, part of the security, ease, and trust that pervades Wildacres. We have no locks on our doors and all the buildings are open twenty-four hours a day. Every building at Wildacres is a sort of sanctuary.
I am thankful for my time there, an in-between respite from what came before and what will follow. We (women especially) don't give ourselves this gift often enough: guilt free self-love in a place where we are taken care of and feel safe.
I am filled with gratitude to the people who built this retreat center with foresight, and to Mike and Kathy who maintain and manage this place where we can find shelter from the storms.