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21 Dec 2008

Weekend Retreat in Taos New Mexico

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Replenishing with Women in Carson National Forest

new-mexicoA couple of weeks ago, I had the great privilage of joining Rabbi Chaim and Devorah Leah Shmukler at their annual retreat in Taos, New Mexico.   It was an honor to share in their work.  The group was breathtaking, as was the location, the learning and the sharing.

On Sunday, a group of us went for a walk in Carson National Forest.  We hiked to the top of a mountain.  Along the way, my friend Nancy snapped a picture of a tarantula!  But she didn’t tell us about it until after we’d done a meditation on the bond that ties us to our ancestral parents (horim in Hebrew) and their relationship to mountains (harim) – whilst lying on the stones that were warming beneath the rising sun!  We rejoiced at having been kept in the dark and snapped this picture on our way down, where back at the hotel we met the group for prayer, breakfast and more learning.

There was a long wait ’till our flight home and we were blessed to have a private tour of Santa Fe, particularly the long street of art galleries.  Some of the work was as kitsch as it comes.  But then, from the car, I saw into a gallery that beamed of great art.  Being in the space fed my soul.  Each painting was thoughtful and subtle, evocative of many layers of being.

Out back was a garden studded with sculptures.  One of the artists is a woman who focuses on women and birds, examining the themes of fragility, strength, being bound and soaring free.  She had recently created a magnificent bronze of a dress fluttering in the wind, evocative of the spiritual flight we all long for.  It’s the one at left.

The afternoon wasn’t the only free time we had.  Our layover was a couple of hours.  So once at the airport, Nancy and I took a cab to catch some dueling piano we heard about.  Turned out when we got to the place, there were two empty pianos facing each other and a group of friends ready for an open mike session.  We had something to drink, watched a little, smiled a lot and then made our way back to the airport.

Here are some more pics of the retreat:
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Looking into the valley from the mountain

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Spider on a stone

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New friends around one of the indoor fireplaces

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The road home

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I reached home in time to have breakfast with the kids before they went to school!  Thank you Devorah Leah and Chaim Shmukler for inviting me.  May you be blessed with abundant success in all you do.  (You can visit them at www.chabadnm.org)

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