Raspberry Retreat

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I first shared this blog post in 2011 on iRetreat.org.

Recently I picked raspberries again at the same patch and found that (again) I had to slow down to fully enjoy the process. Even though you learn a lesson the first time around, you may have to revisit it many times to fully get it. (Right ladies??)

There is no berry I love more than raspberry. So when my friend called and invited me to come out to pick raspberries at her farm, I jumped at the opportunity. She and her husband were going out of town so I would have the whole patch to myself.

I scheduled the picking for late Monday morning, sandwiched between errands such as finding some running shorts for my son, going to the grocery store, and picking up the items I needed to make the raspberry jam that I was already envisioning. I pulled up next to her garden and immediately spied my prize.

She told me to be prepared to go home with four quarts of berries, so I was armed with my basket. But as the first few berries made hollow plunks on my basket bottom, I thought with despair that it will take me forever to pick the berries I wanted. I began thinking that this was not worth the time and that I would spend whatever I needed to buy my raspberries at the farmers’ market.

Then, I said “Hold it!” and took a slow, deep breath. A smile came across my face. I realized that what I was asking myself to do was what I ask women to do all the time as a retreat coach. To step out of our busy lives, slow down and just be in the moment.

The farm is on a busy road and I could hear the hum of the traffic going by. The speed of our culture is a powerful force. I was moving from one thing to the next that day at a fast clip and already had my plans for what I would do with the berries before I had picked them. Moving ahead on my to-do list without pausing for the doing. Stepping out of the busy flow of traffic and pulling up to a garden was something that I wanted to do, but it was hard to get shake off the “gotta get to the next thing quickly” feeling.

I began to slow down and enjoy the time in the garden. I noticed the plumpness of each berry as it slip off into my hand. Pausing to taste a few, I was amused by my red stained fingers. The feel of the sun on my neck and the buzzing of the bees added texture to my experience. I felt my mind clear and I became purely happy in the moment. It was my raspberry retreat.

Soon, my basket was filled and as I pulled my car back into traffic, I noticed that only an hour had passed. The gift of that retreat, like any retreat, has stayed with me for days. The knowledge that we can make choices each day to either get caught up and swept away in the hectic pace of life or slow down to listen to our deeper wisdom is what I share with each woman on retreat. Even the gift of one hour can renew a tired soul. That place of peace, the renewal of a retreat, is always there. You just need to slow down and make the time for it. Or stop by for a taste of my raspberry jam and discover how luscious retreat time can be.

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