Last week I wrote about retreats and mused about the many benefits of such experiences. I also postulated that mini-retreats during retirement would bring many benefits.
Little did I know that I was actually going to experience a mini-retreat within days of writing that post.
The seeds were sown last winter when I suggested to members of the bridge club that we should take an excursion to the summer theatre at Stratford (Ontario) for one of their Shakespearean performances. I also offered that we could stay at our cottage which is only about 45 minutes away.
After much coordination of schedules and discussion of which performance to see, we purchased tickets for a matinée performance of Much Ado About Nothing.
How did going to the theatre and playing bridge turn into a mini-retreat?
Three of my bridge buddies arrived at the cottage last Wednesday afternoon. The weather was warm and sunny. After driving for most the afternoon everyone was ready for snacks and refreshments on the deck.
Spirits were high as we toasted our friendships over dinner and then gathered for the first evening of bridge.
As our time together evolved, we shared stories and discussed a range of issues — joys of retirement; worries about health; lifestyle choices; family changes; hobbies and time management.
Secrets were shared while washing dishes and during leisurely morning cups of coffee. In conversation we affirmed each other as women and respectfully challenged opinions.
And, yes, we did get to the theatre. The performance was excellent. As memorable as the Shakespearean comedy were the beautiful gardens surrounding the Festival Theatre. We admired the elegant white swans on the tranquil Thames River. The summer sunshine made the day perfect.
After a beach walk we had another evening of bridge and an animated conversation that continued until the wee hours of the morning. When I worried about insufficient sleep, one of my friends reminded me that renewed energy comes not only from sleep but also from deep connections and heartfelt exchanges.
It was a this point that I realized that I wasn’t just entertaining my friends at the cottage but that the experience was rejuvenating me — it was a mini-retreat!
What made this experience a mini-retreat?
- We were in a relaxed and natural environment where daily routines were abandoned. We listened to birds and not to cell phones.
- Playing bridge and attending the theatre provided enough structure to the time we spent with each other to shape the days without anyone feeling rushed or feeling any pressure to take part in something that was not enjoyable.
- Conversations were lively but heartfelt; laughter was abundant; there was lots of good food and good wine.
- As experiences were recounted, each of us continued the work of understanding the narrative of our personal journey. We affirmed ourselves and each other by sharing these stories with each other.
What began as a summer theatre and bridge date evolved into a time of self-renewal. As I waved good-bye I felt the same renewed sense of purpose that I experienced when attending business retreats during my professional life.
The time spent with my friends brought a surge of increased energy and a new perspective. What an unexpected blessing!