“What Is This?” Retreat 2013

What might you gain from a Heartwork retreat?

Participants share their experiences

from the October, 2013 “What Is This?” retreat

I found the inquiry work profound and welcomed the opportunity to sit with another or others to delve into the depths within and witness others along their journey and be inspired over and over again.
— Donna B

The retreat propelled me forward in a way I could never have imagined. The personal connections I made through gut-wrenching, soul-sucking pain are some of the most meaningful, vulnerable relationships I have ever experienced…. [The retreat] was an incredibly powerful experience of unconditional love. I’ve never known love like this before. So it showed me what is possible. I always knew there was something different out there.

— Sarah D


The entire process of Inquiry is most powerful, as it invites honesty and vulnerability, going deeper and deeper.

— Brian D

I saw what happened when I was younger and actually experienced the feelings of that child, and from that I gained a new sense of self-compassion. Inquiry gave a voice to that child in a way I’ve never been able to access…. I saw and felt my worthiness for the first time.

— Linda C

“What Is This?” Retreat (video)

Poems written by event participants
as part of their process

Slow down

Slow down for a while and see me.image_1
Do you see how I can float across blue sky and shift shape as I go?
Do you see my gorgeous leaves? Did you notice how they changed from green to purple?
I will let them go now while your eyes are closed.
Maybe you’ll wake up and notice I’ve gone.
I’m not really gone, just wondering if you’d notice my absence.

Slow down for a while and look at me.
If you really look, you’ll see me in that stream that you pass every day.
I began as a trickle and moseyed between rocks and soil and grew and I still grow and 2013-10-20 14.33.42now journey down to meet a river on the other side of town.
In case you’re wondering, I’m that river too…

Slow down for a while and see me.
I am hanging onto to my branch for dear life.
I am not afraid to let go, I’m just waiting for a ride on my wind horse.
Oh the places we will go.

Slow down for a while and see me standing in a kitchen,
Eyes closed,
As I taste, really taste this morsel of food that sings joy in my mouth.
I am the taster and did you know I am also the tasted?

Slow down for a while and see me hug my brother, see me hold my sister.
Did you know I am my sister’s keeper?

Slow down for a while and see me getting smaller as each day passes.
Do you see my eyes swollen from tears shed and unshed?
Do you see that I am in pain, and the pain is crushing my spirit.

Slow down for a while and see me standing on a street corner,
Waiting in all kinds of weather,
For customers who are dying for what I have to sell.
Did you know I used to dream of being a firefighter,
A pilot, a teacher.

Slow down for a while and see me.
Did you know that I am you? That you are me?
Do you see me?


— Margaret Spencer

Click here to listen to Margaret read her poem “Angels”

What is this?
My imperfect offering

my soul is on the way
She told me i am dying…dying
She told me…Lose your voice and be mute
And then you will hear the ancient voices of children rise from my children, your children, and your children’s children
And she told me : become blind for a while so your infant eyes can open for the first time… again and again
And when you are done being blind become deaf
So you will hear the roaring of tigers alive in your belly
and be ready to unleash their power again and again.
You must become numb for awhile too
And she told me to toss my child away and leave him on a garbage heap so she could pull him out and bath him in her tears and hold him for the first time again and again.
And she said… Taste the bitterness of jealousy and drink the acrid juices of hatred
Let them burn through you again and again until there is nothing left but a pile of ashes.
She told me: you must become small and almost invisible. Turn away from your vanity… let the judgements pass through you… Put the badges of merit and honor away for a while… put aside what you cling to and own no thing…
She told me: sit by the river once again
Touch the willow leaf and put your feet into the icy waters
then look for me…You will find me on the mountain pass enshrined with rough stones and adorned with all of your imperfect offerings: colorful ribbons…cheesy plastic crosses and dime store saints… Lay your gifts down here at my feet. Yes YOU TOO! The small ones, the big ones, the broken ones. It’s all the same to me little one.
Lay yourself down by the river again and again.
And I will turn it all into gold…

— Anonymous

Additional Pictures of Chapin Mills Retreat Center:

Inside the Retreat Center

Chapin Mill Landscapes