Rupert Spira Retreat
Hello, my friends! Today is Friday, October 20, 2023. I know I have a little catching up to do, and I hope you're all well.
After leaving Garrison, NY, on Sunday the 15th, Portia and I have been on the move and boondocking much of the time. Because we're moving so much, and usually, single-night stays means no wifi only because I don't feel like setting up Starlink for only one night. We spent one night at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, DE, the former Fort Miles from WWII -I wanted more nights, but they were sold out. It's such a beautiful park! So we moved and spent a night camped on my friend Peggy's driveway, Peg's Cove and RV Park! Peggy and I worked together for over 20 years for the same company, where she retired about a year ago. We had so much fun chatting away, catching up on life, and dining on Peggy's delicious pasta and good wine. Portia and I left the next day, heading south toward Asheville, NC. First, a night at a Harvest Host brewery in Alexandria, VA, before meandering our way to Ashville, arriving early evening after a long day of driving.
I felt ambitious and excited about Asheville, so much so that I was inspired to drive 465-plus miles yesterday to one little border collie's chagrin. She worked extra hard, barking at the wind and highway cars all day. I'm surprised she hasn't lost her voice. I'm sure some people walking or driving by were jolted by the barking, wondering why this dog was barking, but I think it's funny, and it appears to make her happy, with her tail wildly wagging the entire time. She is a working dog and was working hard, keeping everybody in line, including all the cars driving by us and in the opposite direction. Any fast-moving object demands her attention. Border Collies are such a trip; she makes me smile.
As I mentioned, we are now in beautiful, chilly, wet Asheville, NC. We will be here for four nights. The Fall foliage was spectacular on the drive; however, we got in late, and today will be a washout, so we'll be in our cozy little home, hanging low today. This was all after departing Lewes, Delaware, and my good friend Peggy's place. I'll be posting about that visit next.
This post is really dedicated to what the retreat was all about. It was one of the most peaceful and fulfilling events of my life with 150 people in constant prayer and meditation but also full of joy and peace. We would have a guided meditation which was mostly silence for about 90 minutes in the morning after breakfast. Then we had time to explore the area. Garrison is 50 miles west of New York City and gorgeous! You'd never know it was so close to the city. Lunch was at 12:30 then more time to explore or whatever you wanted to do. At 4:30 we would meet and have about a two hour dialoque regarding issues and questions people had for Rupert. Dinner was at 6:30 and then social time in the evening. For seven days. I know most people think "seven days?" But let me tell you that it goes by quickly and we are so used to cramming so much stuff in a day that we never have time to really contemplate this world, God and who we truly are. How did I get here? Here's the back story.
I retired in 2015, my third wife, yes that is 3-Darlene passed in 2016, she had a cerebral aneurysm that ruptured. Nobody knew she had it including her, she went very quickly. Then her two little cocker spaniels left this world that same year. My divorce from Teri - (for those keeping count - yes that is number 4 for me)- and my Mom's passing in 2021, and then Darlene's Mom Betty in 2022. After Betty's passing, I knew I would probably move from Dallas, but I never thought of living a nomadic life. As I mentioned in my first blog entry, after my divorce from Teri, whom I married a couple of years after Darlene's passing, I went through what some spiritual traditions call "The Dark Night of the Soul."
Essentially, what happened between Teri and me revealed things in me that I couldn't reconcile. I lost my identity. I thought I couldn't be this person, this is not me, I didn't recognize who I was any longer. I was so full of shame and regret I felt so hopeless, utterly and completely lost. I was despondent, so ashamed. Everything that had identified me as "I" was shattered; I wasn't me; those labels and identities were not me. I asked God, "Who am I?" " What is this world?" "What do I do?" I just sobbed endlessly, these pitiful and hopeless tears of indescribable pain and desperation. What had I become? And what was I going to do? I had never felt this way. When I went through the divorce with my first wife and Mother of my kids in the mid-90s, that was close, but this was devastatingly different.
Searching for answers, I sought wisdom from the bible, pastors, and friends. I have some incredibly special friends that were with me every step of the way. I continued to dive deep into bible study, reading, and listening to worship music. And thank God for little Portia, she was my loving and loyal companion through all of it. However, my beliefs and those I trusted to have the answers did not have them. Nothing made sense. So, while immersing myself in what I believed, I began writing and reading Hemingway again. It had been many years. I re-read The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and the Sea, A Moveable Feast, etc., and then moved on to books like The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Finally I re-read The Secret and then read The Greatest Secret, both by Rhonda Byrne. The Secret to me is very shallow and only concerned with gaining material wealth through our own manifestation, whether that's money, objects like houses, cars etc..., and relationships.
The Greatest Secret though introduced me to something completely different, and spiritual teachings and teachers that pointed to thoughts I hadn't considered since I was a child. Ultimatley it lead me to Rupert Spira. Rupert is a friend now. He is a very successful artist and potter from England and currently lives in Oxford. He's been studying all of the religious traditions for over 50 years and now talks about what he has learned. People call him a spiritual teacher, he doesn't refer to himself as that and is not a fan of new age spirituality where you'll find a myriad of "spiritual teachers" that are simply in it for the money and power much like most religions. He pointed me in a different direction and to think of the thought "God is everywhere" and the phrase "I AM" in a way I never knew or would probably never know. You can find him on YouTube or www.rupertspira.com.
My background is catholic and Christian and have always been seeking God and happiness, and always leaned on my faith, but when pushed to the edge of my beliefs I was still lost. And the whole time it was right there in front of me. Isn't that always the case? We make things so difficult and over think it all.
Take care my friends.