Breaking my promise - I said Michelle would write the next e-mail, but thought I’d give you a sneak preview. I’m back at SMC, for my third and last set of trials, and have been able to see her a bit. You’ll hear from her next week … when she’s out!
Things are wild & crazy at the Mountain Center. Last time I was here, the center was hosting a cremation (an outdoor, all-night bonfire), which lent a certain solemnity and intensity to the staff’s mood. This week, the center’s between their winter and summer seasons, and things are a bit chaotic. Tents are going up, facilities are shifting around, meals seem to be in a different place each time, and the staff had a dance-party kegger the first night.
Things have loosened up in Rigden Lodge, too (where the retreatants and labs are holed up). The last week of the retreat is set up as a transition – a bit like the post-op recovery room. Tuesday (the day I arrived), they lifted the code of silence at meals. Apparently, this was like pulling a cork out of a dam. Lots to catch up on after three months!
When I passed by Rigden the first night, I saw the meditators gathered in the meditation hall. Except this time, you would’ve thought they were screening Caddyshack – instead of the usual silence, fall-out-of-your chair laughter kept bursting out of the hall’s windows.
Alan, like many advanced meditation teachers, has a child-like playfulness about him, and has let his instinct for poking fun of people run free, apparently (Michelle seems to be an target for quite a bit of ribbing). And the group generally seems pretty giddy, now that shore is in sight.
When I saw Michelle Tuesday night, she seemed like she was still adjusting to all the chatter and activity – not surprising – a bit like stepping out of a dark room into the glare of open sunshine. But she’s doing great.
There’s a whirlwhind of activity, so Michelle’s practice has been pretty broken up.
• The project team has drafted Michelle to help them restructure the September retreat’s org structure, so she found herself suddenly back in the Organizational Development game.
• They’ve been holding a series of meetings, like a long one last night titled “Compassionate Action” – an exploration of ways to take what they’ve gained from the retreat out into the world in practical ways.
• This morning, I whisked Michelle off to Fort Collins, to take blood and ship it back to our doctor in NY (we’re exploring IVF) – which meant a lot of racing around and logistical juggling – Michelle’s first time away from the retreat center (and into a bustling city) since March.
• I floored it all the way back, to get Michelle to her interview with the BBC, who are making a documentary on the project.
• A reporter from the Boston Globe is here, interviewing people for a book on attention, and she’s interviewing Michelle, too.
• Some people here have been drafting Michelle into a non-profit dedicated to bringing the practice to schools, so she’s been meeting with them.
• Michelle’s helping set up the good-bye banquet for the group.
So lots going on all of a sudden. Michelle really seems to be flourishing, has connected with a remarkable group of people – and will have lots to tell you in a few days.
See you all soon.