Imagine going on a week-long all-inclusive retreat, settling in, and then finding out that there’s no running water. What would you do?
This is what my retreaters were presented with when they showed up at our luxury villa in southern Portugal last week!
In fact, the whole
ordeal experience got so cozy and familiar that it became a running joke that Kevin, the plumber, was everybody’s new best friend… he gave us daily briefings and good news like, “The water’s running! I don’t know how long! Take your showers – make them short and one at a time.”
We would scramble; I took to WhatsApp messaging each retreater, “You’re next!” and then they letting me know the next could go by texting, “I’m done!”
As you can note, there was running water – about every other day. In between, we drank bottled water, took sponge baths and used pails of water from the pool to flush the toilets.
The villa owners, overseeing from another country, did everything they could… sending water trucks and bottled water and, of course, our new best friend, Kevin managed to keep the ball rolling best as he could.
About half-way through the week and during another dry day, I gathered the group and called the question, “Should we move to a different location?” It would have meant a mad scramble on my part but my responsiblity was to support my retreat group in mind, body and soul during this week. And that meant the “body” part needed somewhere to shower!
Despite the hardship, the answer was a resounding “We’ll stay! We’ll manage.” Except for one who was really itching for a shower! But she got her wish when, after voting, Kevin announced we had running water (again!). A very well timed blessing – off to the shower she ran, emerging a little later clean and happy… and willing to ride it out.
What Really Counted
As it turned out, water (or lack of it) was not a central focus for our group! Despite the challenge, over the course of our 6 nights we connected, feasted, explored, and pushed personal limits.
Everyone was committed to learning how to move beyond their emotional challenges, how to manage unsettling feelings to enjoy a much richer emotional life. Everyday, we spent more than three intimate hours with my teaching, our deep discussions, experiential exercises and active meditation and breath work practices.
Maybe it was the influence of our emotional exploration that made the water situation bearable, but I’m inclined to think the most significant factor was the spirit of generosity that each participant brought to our shared experience, as Juno’s thoughts so eloquently express:
“The lack of water was the main glitch which occured. It was resolved by Becca’s patience, sense of humour, and continued communication with the owners. It was suggested we might move to another Villa as the matter was ongoing. It is a testament to the trust everyone had in Becca to have water for us each evening for a shower – no one chose to go. Her quiet power was an example to us all on how to handle daily frustrations when events are out of one’s hands.
– Juno, retreat participant
All our retreaters shared this sentiment in one way or another touching me by the acknowledgment and making me feel very “seen.” It was a personal gift to me as the retreat facilitator. I could not have asked for more.
The water situation is actually a stunning indicator of climate change. This part of Portugal has been in an on-going drought and the wells of country homes and villas, like the one we were in, are simply running dry. The large underground water sources, called aquifers, have dropped beyond the reaches of the wells. It’s uncertain how long it will take for this situation to change – it’s all dependent on whether we will see the voluminous amounts of rain needed to fill the bodies of water we depend on.
A Crowning Conclusion
On our final day, a beautifully formed rainbow appeared, serving as a symbolic conclusion to our retreat week.
In different expressions, retreaters shared that it reflected on their amplified ability to tap into the flow of their emotions with grace and perseverance. A few even expressed their newfound appreciation for the simple comforts we often take for granted – such as functioning toilets and showers!
Of course, I’d never plan a retreat knowing there might be a chance of a vis major, which is Latin for an unforeseeable and extraordinary force or event that’s beyond human control and can’t be prevented or mitigated. But practically speaking, next year’s retreat villa will be on municipal water 😉
With Love, Becca
P.S. If the promise of running water excites you (LOL!) I invite you to join the interest list for exclusive early access to next year’s retreat.