Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Parting Gift

Shana is almost done with Workshop. I've blabbered on and on about it for years, but after this weekend, she's all done. She leaves tomorrow for the annual retreat at Hawley Lake for the Peer Leaders, Leadership Team and the incredible Dr. Franny. It's four days full of ancient rituals and traditions, processing about the past year and just some good, old-fashioned fun. Plus, there are no cell phones, no make-up, no computers and no hair straighteners allowed and somehow everybody survives. I was fortunate enough to tag along last year (Hawley Lake '09) and will never forget those days, participating in some truly amazing, down to the core, life-changing ceremonies.

As a "forth year" Shana will be "exiting" and will be required to take part in some special rituals. One of them involves making gifts for the group. Workshop has always incorporated some kind of gift-giving in everything they do. From the daily gifts from your "secret friend" during the week-long summer sessions to the craft activities made as a group as a remembrance of their time together to the validation letters received from parents. None of these gifts are costly, but rather stress the importance of recognizing others, expressing feelings through something tangible, giving everybody something to hang on to in order to make the bonds even stronger.

Shana wanted to somehow incorporate the meaning of Workshop and how it has given her a home and support with her love of travel as she moves on away from this group. She designed a card (picture to follow) and glued a coin from some of her travels to each one. She hopes that this will be a reminder how they have given her strength to continue to "fly" without them.

The forth years also need to leave something of themselves behind. Hawley Lake has become a special, spiritual place to them over the years and at the end of their time there, they bury something meaningful. We have some Chinese iron balls from Hong Kong (a place Shana loved). They are two small balls that you place in one hand and move them around and around for good health, balance, meditation (it's harder than it seems!). Shana said that they represent yin and yang to her as well as silly vs. serious and how she has learned to bring that in to balance in her own life. She will bury them at Hawley with the hope that that lesson will always remain with her.

I'm sure it will.

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