If only there were evil people somewhere else insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were simply necessary to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.
And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? —Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Imagine you live in a community that has its own “Death Lodge,” a place where a dying person can rest and receive the visitors who come to say goodbye. This is the natural place of “making it good” with your people so you can cleanly move on, and they can let you go in the fullness of completion. An old hospice teaching says that to complete a relationship five things must be said: “I forgive you”; “you forgive me”; “thank you”; “I love you”; and “goodbye.” This is the sacred work of the Death Lodge.
One of the great challenges we all face in life is to do this work now, when it is most needed, rather than waiting until the last days of our dying. Call this the work of “the Life Lodge.” If we don’t step into this lodge, if we don’t keep our relationships current, we risk being weighed down by a lifetime of woundings, angers, and regrets that make it more difficult to surrender to our death, or to the fullness of our life. For most people, the hardest part of Life Lodge work or Death Lodge work is the giving and receiving of forgiveness and apology. Too often we become stuck in the mire of too much memory, or we hide from ourselves in the secret of trying to forget. But by steering clear of the Life Lodge, we risk turning into yet another cycle of anger, vengeance and victimization.
In this gathering we will explore together what the four shields of the Life Lodge (or Death Lodge) have to teach us about restoring a personal and communal balance that embraces the wounds of the past. Where is it that we are likely to get stuck in the turning of this wheel? And when might we forgive too soon, or apologize too shallowly? Jewels to be found in these lodges are godlike qualities: mercy, compassion, essential self-respect, and maybe even the grace to forgive the “unforgivable.” If you listen, today more than ever, you can hear a cry for this kind of healing—be it in the lives of individual friends, or in the biggest stories of our time. That cry is calling for each of us to do the wrenching work of self-reflection and personal healing, which evokes the deeper levels of our humanity, offering the possibility of a reconciliation with self and others that is sacred, humbling, and ultimately life-changing.
Program information: Enrollment will be limited to 14. . The group will first rendezvous on Sunday, August 13 at 3:00 p.m., at Henry Coe State Park near San Jose, as close to real wilderness as the Bay Area has to offer. The site requires a two-mile, mostly level walk in, with only two vehicles allowed to bring in equipment. Therefore it will be important to rendezvous at the main headquarters by the late afternoon – again, at 3:00 but no later than 3:30 p.m. -- so we can all go in together. We anticipate camping together the entire week and we will finish by noon on the last day, Saturday, August 19.
Please note, the School makes no provisions for meals or equipment, though we will offer a communal meal the first night of your arrival. We ask everyone to come prepared to live self-sufficiently, though the group may spontaneously choose to prepare meals together. More detailed logistical information will be sent out a few months before the course begins.
A note to people with limited wilderness experience: Though we will be camping out for the entire week, activities undertaken will be non-strenuous and our emphasis will always be “safety first.” We will provide a list of personal equipment that each participant should bring and we will also provide some group equipment for our base-camp. We may be able to loan limited personal equipment as needed and if we are unable, we can provide advice about what to purchase or rent.