Retreat or Quest?

I’m writing this after a greasy airport breakfast as I wait to board my flight to get me to my, um, what do I call it? It is called a Vision Quest. According to the literature it is something one is ‘called’ for. I have been calling it a retreat because I think Vision Quest sounds weird and I don’t think I really know what that means. But as I reflect on it today I notice how important the language is.

Am I going away from something? Am I giving up, hiding, regrouping? Like a weary soldier at the battle and realizing I can’t win have I embarked on something that will allow me to back up and reconsider my position on the front lines?
Or am I going away to the Joshua Retreat Centre on a Quest? Moving forward, hunting for something, on a mission, with the whiff of something larger than me inferred in the nobility of the word quest?

Put that way, I’d much rather be questing than retreating.

Retreat sounds like I’m getting spa treatment. Quest means I’ve put on my chain mail and left on a mission that appeared to me in a dream from God. (By the way, that isn’t what happened)

When I have been asked about why I would go to this week long quest which involves a lot I don’t know, but what I do know is that I will be fasting for three days and sleeping under a tarp in the Mojave Desert, people wonder why? Why, when one could be getting ones toe nails painted and reading a paperback, resting, why would someone spend money on discomfort.

I know I’ll have a fuller picture in seven days on the other side, but here is what I think today as I embark.

My life (and every life) is full of discomfort. I spend most of my day trying to be comfortable. My distractions are short-lived, expensive sometimes and ultimately unsuccessful. I’m looking for a longer lasting more fulfilling rest. Let’s call it Peace.

When I married my husband I said we should have kids, because I couldn’t really bear the thought of the rest of my life being about me. I was already very tired of ‘me’. On this quest, I want to step further over that line, away from the ‘me plan’ as Sakyong Mipham calls it.

Most days I wish I could find the space to just sit and have a coffee. Space. The final frontier, as Captain Kirk always said. Well, I’m off to get lots of it. No Internet, TV, iPhone or phone for that matter. Just me, 6 strangers, on a journey to find out what happens if nothing is happening.  Is empty actually full and full actually empty?

I’m tantalized at these thoughts. So I’m off on a Quest. I will be doing things full of Woo Woo, as I call it. Summoning spirit guides and the like. Things that are new, unfamiliar, challenging and I have no doubt, bizarre by my world experience. I don’t think I need to come back with a particular result for this to be ‘successful’, even though I have questions and hopes for clarity in mind. I feel the biggest step, the true sign of success is that I actually named this journey as important and I’m travelling on it.
happening. Is empty actually full and full actually empty?

I’m tantalized at these thoughts. So I’m off on a Quest. I will be doing things full of
Woo Woo, as I call it. Summoning spirit guides and the like. I will be doing much that is new, unfamiliar, challenging and I have no doubt, bizarre by my world experience. I don’t think I need to come back with a particular result for this to be ‘successful’, even though I have questions and hopes for clarity in mind. I feel the biggest step, the true sign of success is that I actually named this journey as important and I’m travelling on it. After all, wherever you go, there you are.

1 Comment Retreat or Quest?

  1. Sandy Halliday

    Rebecca – I am very jealous that you have had the courage to take this journey. Enjoy it with your mind, body, heart and spirit wide open! Please promise me we will get together when you return so you can tell me all about all the Woo Woo.
    XOXO
    Sandy

    Reply

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