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In my last blog, I promised to write more about my residential retreat with Saniel and Linda Groves-Bonder at their home in Sonoma, California. I left you and me hanging on the question whether I would have enough to talk about during my two-day retreat. It turns out my fear was almost groundless. I did run out of “personal stuff” to bring forward, but it didn’t matter. We filled the space by working on two projects I’m doing with Saniel and Linda, and by simply being together in simple, every-day terms.
For instance, I volunteered to drive Saniel into Sonoma to do some errands, including buying cat food and six rather large sacks of bird seed. Linda likes to feed the birds—every one of them, it seems, living in Sonoma County and beyond. I can imagine word of mouth traveling at warp speed within the aviary community about delicious, free food.
Have you ever been inside a hay/grain/birdseed store? Not this city slicker. I had only been to the main “drags” in town. Saniel helped me to experience Sonoma from a resident’s point-of-view. It’s a quaint country town with a population of only 10,400. Let me add, I gave myself a few extra days to explore some of the surrounding cities. I found Sausalito to be the most interesting of these. It’s a beautiful town overlooking the San Francisco Bay with lovely homes terraced into the hills and populated by artists, musicians, New-Age thinkers, and other adventuresome souls. The more conventional residents were probably working in nearby San Francisco somewhere across the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather in northern California at this time of year can only be described as “glorious and majestic.”
Pardon my digression.
I become really happy around Saniel and Linda thanks to their powerful transmissions. During our time together, we laughed, worked hard, and had lots of fun. There was a bonus event (for me) on Sunday called “a sitting” where Saniel and Linda hosted nine local people for a two-hour session of meditation and sharing.
After these two and a half days, I’m cooked. I can’t say if I’m rare, medium, or well-done. I just know I’m cooked and it’s a good thing.
While meditating at the Sunday morning sitting an image came to me: hands knitting golden threads into a golden rope. The image suggested to me a certain perfect harmony that surrounded everything Saniel, Linda and I said and did. There was another entity at work with us, weaving together the strands of our collective efforts into a golden rope. Everything that happened just sort of fell into place, as if by magic. (I know what my next book project will be about. It fell into my lap as lightly as a feather.) The golden rope brought us closer together; more comfortable in our Being and knowing of one another—linked heart-to-heart, now and into the future.
Casual bettors, who picked Silver Sunsets by his number or the way he looked in the post parade, are tearing up their tickets in disgust. In thirty seconds, they will regret this act. They will watch, in utter amazement, as Silver Sunsets begins a furious stretch run, weaving in and out of traffic, passing horses as if they were standing still, crossing the finish line in first place.
Silver Sunsets was a top-ranked thoroughbred during his two-year old and three-year old racing seasons. I remember him now, twenty years later, because of the lessons he taught me. Be yourself and; it is never too late to do your thing.
I turn left on the two-lane road leading to the town of Sedona. The world outside transforms into something much different than the one I am accustomed to.
Towering red-rock Mountains appear unexpectedly. The striped hills are radically different from the ordinary-looking mesas overlooking the surrounding terrain. For the first time, the advertisements promoting this area ring true. I get the distinct impression there is something special here. There is suddenly hope the three thousand mile plane ride and the hotel suite awaiting my wife and I will prove to be a wise investment after all.
Sedona is a spiritual spa for die-hard vacationers as well as world-weary travelers searching for a way to resurrect their lives from an assortment of disappointments and failures. I am not here to seek advice from healers, psychic or life counselors. I am here to discover the heart and soul of this city out of time without the help of a tour guide.
Sedona is amazingly clean. There are no signs of litter in the streets or sidewalks, no unsightly garbage dumps to mar the town’s bright aura. The buildings, homes and streets all look brand new. Most of the architecture is a sort of southwest modern with earth tone colors alternating with pastels. It seems as though a beautiful, uniquely designed church abides on every street corner. No two homes look alike, yet no building seems out of place. There is an underlying unity of design but not at the expense of individuality.
The single-story adobe-style homes at street level and the larger mansions in the mountains have no bars on their yawning windows. They all look expensive, probably worth hundreds of thousand dollars each upwards into the millions. Incredibly, you don’t see gates in front of the winding driveways. There are no traffic lights clogging the two-lane road running throughout the town. Instead, they have what the locals call “round-a-bouts.” Here, the visitor finds an honor system where vehicles yield to the one reaching the four-way intersection first. Anyone who doesn’t obey the code is sure to be a tourist.
I spend most of my time here in art galleries and walking around slack jawed, agape at the rock formations, multi-colored mountains, and fiery sunsets. I feel “buzzed” every waking moment. Even shopping, which I normally hate, feels like an acid trip. The town itself, I think, is one huge energy vortex.
Young people flock here as if drawn to the area by the magnetic power of the town’s famous energy vortexes. Many of the transplants have fled small towns where they grew up throughout the west to taste big city life. After living in places like Houston, Phoenix, and Santa Fe, they search for something else. They find it in Sedona, where small city values couple with new vistas of financial and cultural opportunity.
Everyone you meet here seems to be from somewhere else. Heaven is likely to be quite similar, come to think of it.
The Adventure Project set an ambitious goal. Blog writers and their readers worldwide responded with enthusiasm, compassion and generosity.
The idea came to Becky Straw and Jody Landers, Co-Founders of the Adventure Project, from members of their organization, known affectionately as “The Tribe.” One week before World Water Day (March 22nd) blog writers proposed a challenge to raise $10,000 in one day by promoting The Adventure Project’s latest initiative: repairing broken water pump handles in northern India. The anticipated results of the initiative are twofold. By bringing wells that have fallen into disrepair back into use, 300 more people per month (3,600 per year) will have access to clean water. In addition, the initiative will provide training and jobs to enable unemployed people to lift themselves out of poverty.
Becky thought the tribe members might be able to recruit 50 bloggers to promote the fundraising effort. Jody, an eternal optimist, suggested 100 bloggers. One week later, 137 bloggers had signed up to participate. As the final seconds of World Water Day elapsed, the amount raised reached $11,390. Donations are still rolling in, by the way. All funds collected go to WaterAid, a charity that takes a unique approach to providing the poorest communities with potable water.
“It all came together like magic,” Becky reports. She asked her friend and colleague, Nicole Skibola, to find a company that might be willing to provide matching funds to the promotion. In her role as a “Social Innovation Strategist” with Apricot Consulting in New York City, Nicole works with corporations to create and execute effective programs for social change. A former attorney, Nicole also serves as a “Social Enterprise Advisor,” for the Adventure Project.
Nicole e-mailed a list of her friends and business contacts in an effort to locate a matching funds sponsor. Kathya Bustamante’s name happened to be on the list from a position she previously held with UBS. Kathya, among other interests, now volunteers for TPRF as Manager of the Fundraising Team. Kathya recognized a common thread between both organizations: “Clean Water” and “Dignity.” She forwarded Nicole’s request to decision makers at TPRF. Within twenty-four hours, TPRF committed to providing up to $10,000 in matching funds. “Awesome,” Nicole commented in an e-mail to Becky and Kathya, “the fastest foundation response in history.”
One final footnote—Although TPRF agreed to provide up to $10,000 in matching funds, we surprised the girls by cutting a check for the full amount of the funds raised on World Water Day: $11,390.
“Your response was so amazing and so responsible,” Becky said about TPRF’s participation.
*Photos courtesy of Esther Havens for The Adventure Project
I have always wanted floodlights to illuminate the road ahead. What I get, if I am lucky, is a little candle. I must take care to protect the candle’s flame from the roaring winds that surround me.
To cultivate wisdom, I must read the book of life in my heart.
By cultivating harmony within, harmony will permeate every aspect of my life.
If I sincerely seek joy, peace, and love, these qualities will take root in my soul as surely as the sun rises every day.