The whole thing was concocted over a burrito and a beer. The word that brought us together was intentional. The idea was to gather other liked minded women.
The event was conceived as a springtime women’s retreat. Ten said, “Yes!” to participating. It seemed like a propitious beginning.
Fast forward to late April, the morning of the Intentional Women’s Retreat. Eighteen inches of fresh snow covered nearly a foot of the same from the previous week. Texts began to hit my IPhone at 6:00 a.m.
“Has your street been plowed?”
“Would we be able to get up the narrow road leading to the cabin?”
“Is the retreat a go?”
“YES, absolutely!” I responded. “We intentionally live in the Northland. We intentionally set this time aside to come together. See you there!”
The gathering was a powerhouse of career choices that makes any community function well: business finance, housing, education, human services, the arts, etc. We were mothers, wives, partners, divorced, single, straight, gay, believers, and agnostics. An amalgam that included one solidifying element: Intention.
As spiritual director of the retreat, I strove for a foundation from which I could somehow speak to the wisdom and experience of those seated before me. Using the words of Dag Hammarskjold, I began: ““For all that is past Thank You; For all that is to come, Yes.”
Intention requires saying YES to love—love of self, love of existence, love of purpose, love of life itself. Saying YES is the beginning of intentional living.
Saying YES is responding to something greater than yourself that is calling you out, forward, and beyond any fears you have.
Saying YES to love creates the possibility of being wide open to whatever comes and becoming willing to be fully in cooperation with it.
Saying YES to love is intentionally opening yourself up to be hurt, to be criticized, to be accused of being a non-team player…and YES, even to have your heart broken…open.
Being intentional in one’s life is not about changing one’s career, or moving to a far off land, or ending a relationship…though it might be. You might need to say NO loudly and intentionally in order to say YES with all your heart and soul and mind. Again Dag Hammarskjold:
“I don't know Who, or what, put the question, I don't know when it was put. I don't even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone, or Something, and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.” *
This intentional gathering of women included amazing loaves of fresh bread, homemade soup, music, and laughter and tears, snowshoe walks, fireside talks...all the ingredients beginner minds need to purposefully answer the question, “How do I want to live more intentionally in my first, second, or third act of life?”
How do you?
*Markings by Dag Hammarskjold
Second Secretary General - United Nations
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Posthumously