I’ve been on retreat. Yes, I admit it sounds a bit nun-like but it wasn’t at all like that in reality. I have discovered that going on retreat turns me into a dormouse. Many of the wonderful talks that have been prepared for me pass me by as I sleep through them. The seats are very, very comfortable and tilt back. There are matching footrests at just the right height and we are given blankets to cover ourselves with so it’s not really a surprise to find I cannot keep my eyes awake. A doctor comes to give us a talk about nutrition and I find myself asleep within minutes. Periodically I will surface and nod encouragingly whilst hoping I am not snoring too much. I notice during one of these periods that some of my compatriots are also asleep or on the verge of so I don’t feel so bad.
We are the usual disparate group of people and form a cohesive group quite quickly. It is clear that we are not all going to be lifelong friends but some stronger bonds are forged which will last. Having no chores to do and a small amount of free time allows us to behave like school children, giggling and messing about. Some of us have smuggled in contraband and feel daring drinking coffee in plain sight. I put my KitKat wrappers in the communal bin in the refectory and hope they don’t search my cases.
On the second evening, we are having supper together and bemoaning (obviously far too loudly) the fact that we won’t be having Biodanza that evening. What Biodanza is is something of a mystery but Becky has looked it up on You Tube and it appears to involve lots of twirling, finger pointing and looking deep into each others’ eyes. We don’t think we’re up to it but say how disappointed we all are not to be taking part whilst secretly sighing with relief. Near the end of supper, we are joined by a fair haired woman who tells us we will be having Biodanza after all! We fix grins on our faces and wish we hadn’t been so clever. We are told which room to go to and duly traipse off, each daring another to not go or to run away. I am wearing sheepskin slippers and feel I cannot possibly do it justice in such attire but others tell me it will be just fine. If one is going to do it then we are all going to do it. We find the room which is large and has a piano in it. We spend time shoving each other through the door like 6 year olds, mucking about. The room is very pleasant and has large windows which reach to the floor. One is a door leading out to the garden. “Does this door open?” I ask and, before I know what is happening, I have the door opened and have stepped through it like a character in a farce, just as the Biodanza teacher arrives. I leave behind a room with several outraged faces in it, furious because they hadn’t thought of it and I am now not going to have to humiliate myself by dancing. I go to sit on a bench by the water feature and ring my husband. To be honest, I can’t see much of what is going on in the lesson except occasionally I see my friends making faces at me or bending over in an amusing way. After a while, I go up to my room and revisit my dormouse tendencies.
Over breakfast the next morning, I am castigated for escaping and given a blow by blow account of the Biodanza class which, to be fair, most people seem to have enjoyed. Apparently it involved people dancing by touching forefingers together in quite energetic ways which was tricky to manage but the slow dances they found the most embarrassing as they had to gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes. It also lasted for an hour and a quarter which made it a very long day. I do not feel I missed something essential to my being so am smug about my escape.
There are 2 stories we shared between us which define the humour of this retreat. I saw a woman on television talking to her friend about children’s birthday parties and how expensive and complicated they had become. One woman said she had so much to do, buying presents, preparing the food, filling the party bags – she was quite worn out with all the work. The second woman said to her “My children are too old for parties like this now. They just want pizza and a video. Cherryshit! Cherryshit!” I sat up. What on earth did she mean? Something yound people enjoyed which I didn’t know about? It took a few seconds to realise she was actually shouting “Cherish it! Cherish it!”….
The second relates to the Earl of Oxford who, on being presented to Queen Elizabeth, bowed and farted at the same time. He was so humiliated by this that he stayed away from court for many years. On his return, he bowed again to the Queen who said to him “Ah, my Lord Oxford! I had quite forgotten the fart”. Humans don’t change so very much 🙂