An Invitation to Create Gracious Space

by Bonnie Pasek, Didi Graves, Blair, Dayna, Rose, Dianne, Karen, Kathleen and 17 other women
edited by Annie Christensen

From Bonnie:

I started to write this blog in a factual manner about what the 26 women who attended Seattle Unity’s 2017 Fall Women’s Retreat, “Creating Gracious Space in Changing Times”, experienced at IslandWood on Bainbridge Island.

I realized I wanted to share much more than the facts about what we did. You can hear those from any one of us.

It was awesome for sure! The setting was serene forested beauty. The dining was decidedly divine. The Great Hall and our accommodations were cozy and inviting. We laughed a lot. We learned, played, prayed, shared and connected on deep levels. And boy, did we ever DANCE!

This retreat was born out of the words grace and gracious. These are words to which I have long been drawn, to which I aspire.

The word grace means simple elegance or refinement of movement. We often think of it as physical body grace in how we move or look, but it is so much more than that. Grace is a spirit that resides within us.

The word gracious means a “path to a deeper, profound place.” Graciousness signifies kindness, compassion, tact, a desire to understand – a generosity of spirit.

Grace is a desire to move in a gracious, more meaningful, productive way in my daily interactions and relationships, in what I do and say and how I just am in the world. We stand at a time in history when grace and graciousness are crucial to our own well-being and that of others. Grace is a call to our souls. Graciousness is what comes out of our souls into the world.

I felt called to put together this retreat in response to the current political and cultural times that are not only changing, but challenging, divisive, difficult, and even feeling dangerous. These are times that can make us want to pull back and give up.

I am profoundly grateful to the 26 women whose souls felt called by grace and graciousness. We were awake and engaged. We explored ways to live comfortably in these times and be expansive, not shrinking back. We listened deeply and learned from each other. Thank you for being open, curious and ready for discovery.

I am still flying high from our wonderful retreat weekend together at IslandWood. What a beautiful and gracious space it is. ~ Bonnie

It was a delicious, delightful and healing weekend! ~ Blair

A great template for how I want to live ~ and all my sisters with me. ~ Dayna

Just perfect. Can’t wait to do it again. ~ Rose

Very thankful for each person bringing her authenticity and genuineness to Island Wood…. very much added to the retreat’s success. Truly grateful for the opportunity to connect more on the soul level. ~ Dianne

IslandWood is spectacular, the presenter was engaging, the food was off the charts and it was a joy to connect with other women. ~ Karen

Thanks again for creating a sacred gracious space for all of us. It was a perfect weekend in every way. We are all blessed by your hard work and your divine presence. You did a marvelous job, including everyone on your team!! The singing bowl meditations, morning yoga, walks through the forest, delicious food, sacred sharing, new friends…..remain in my heart. ~ Kathleen

Sacred Objects I Brought
by Didi Graves

This poem was created from the words of the women of Unity during the sacred object ceremony on retreat October 2017.

I brought a heart shaped rock my best friend gave me.
It reminds me to explore with meaning.
To look behind the scene for synchronicities.

I brought rattles from Mexico.
They were calling out to me.
It’s time for us to rattle.

I bought some wings from the dollar store.
Wings and flying.
I had a pet raven growing up.
He would meet me at school.
I’m gonna get my wings.

I brought a “what a wonderful world” tile.
I would sing that song to my children.
We laugh a lot. So grateful.

I am a collector of rocks.
They are art in nature.
There is art in the wings of birds.

I too am a collector of rocks.
When I moved I took all the rocks back to the beach.
Of all my possessions I miss those rocks the most.

I brought a CD I recorded.
I wrote all the songs.
The music was inside of me for decades.
The impossible dream.

I brought a stone that a friend gave me.
It says faith.
It reminds me to allow change to happen.

My father brought this Hotei laughing Buddha from England in 1944.
He kept it.
Now I keep it.
It has a crack in it which makes it even more perfect.

I brought a red leaf
It helps me remember who I am.
The red keeps me grounded.

Gloria Rodriquez.
She gave me this figure of a mother and child.
And I seldom pick it up.
Then I realize…oh, I have a storyteller.
Oh yeah, Gloria gave it to me.
The stories we tell each other.
The stories we tell ourselves.

She was such a friend.
She would listen.
She asked me-
Why are you still here?
And I told her my story.
She was the mirror that made me move.

My sister friend gave me a women’s circle candle holder.
When I hold this, I am with her.

I brought a brooch from a delightful, wonderful woman.
It belonged to her mother.
She was funny, intelligent and wise.
From day one she told me she loved me.
I want to share this with younger women.

Ira makes a surprise appearance at our women’s retreat.
I am not surprised.
Hi Ira. We miss you. (Thanks A____e.)

At a workshop on grounding we were to pick some stones.
What is their quality?
Little black stone is right size.
White stone is delight, be delight.
The brick is grit.
And they are all broken.
I have been broken.
It’s the crack that lets in the light.

I’ve been visiting my home.
My sacred things are not with me.
I miss them.
But I always have something.
I have this card.
It’s gracious. It says let’s chat.

I brought my “Stay With the Love” button.
It came from a dream I had.
A mandala appeared to me.
It showed me I had to choose between love and fear.
I would wear the button and if someone asked me about it I would give the button to them.
I had lots of interesting encounters.

I brought my grandfather’s little dog bank.
When I was little he would save quarters for me all year.
I would use them to buy Christmas presents.
He was unconditional love.
He was my safe place.

I brought a prayer wheel.
My prayer is compassion.
You turn with it.
I see compassion swirling over everyone.
Including me.

I brought a faceted stone.
A friend who passed gave it to me.

I brought a butterfly.
I heard about a big cloud of butterflies.
They are free and beautiful.

I brought a fun, flying fairy godmother.
She is all about having fun, lightening up and moving toward a joyful life.

I brought a piece of raw amethyst.
It reminds me of time with my Mom.
Talking about energy and connection.

My Grandmother’s old jewelry box bridges the generations.
Youth and wisdom.
Love her – it called to me.

I brought a picture of my granddaughter.
She helps me live in the moment.
She is a wonderful antidepressant.

I brought a singing bowl.
She reminds me to listen until all is quiet.

I brought a rose quartz heart stone.
It was intended for my sister Kate.
She died before she could hold it in the palm of her hand.
It is her gift to me, of heart, compassion and love.

These are the things we brought.
And so much more.