I had a wonderful silent meditation retreat at Hidden Lake in Oregon I would like to tell you about. The retreat house and environs are lovely, peaceful and charming. The contemporary  craftsman style house sits on a little lake which is fed by a river at one end, then drops precipitously at the other, the waters finding their way seaward. A fish ladder there allows salmon to leap up the stairway to spawn. The grounds are private and protected, held gracefully by a variety of pine and other trees and shrubs, natural and untouched nearer the lake, blending seamlessly into more landscaped foliage up near the house. A variety of bird and wild life visit the property and, as you will see, acted as wonderful mystical messengers for me during my stay. The interior of the house is simple, yet elegant and comfortable, with soft lighting and beautiful uplifting expressions of spiritual art here and there to delight the eye and nourish the soul. In the dining room, a compassionate Quan Yin statue watches over me from the garden. The meditation room is at the rear of the house framed by three expansive picture windows, which face lake and gorgeous scenery. Rows of votive candles ring the room, while a picture of my teacher, Leslie Temple-Thurston, and images of Ramana Maharshi, Buddha, Quan Yin, Ganesh, and Archangel Michael hold space.

When I arrived it was raining, and it poured or four days with rarely a break! Once, the downpour let up enough that I was able to get outside for a walk.  Following the sound of rushing water, I came to the fish ladder with its whooshing torrent cascading down in a blur over the steps. I closed my eyes, immersing myself in the raw power of this natural force. Then, slap, slip, slap! My watery trance was interrupted by another sound. Eyes pop open, and a blur of silvery-pink arrests my attention! I realize a single Coho salmon is finding her way up the ladder, her slippery body slapping against concrete steps. Slap, slip, slap! What a surprise blessing! Later, I am told this is a rare sighting on the property because, unfortunately, Pacific salmon are in decline here. Later, I look up the spiritual significance of the salmon’s appearance: wisdom, inspiration, rejuvenation.

One morning midway in the retreat I experienced a profound energetic opening when the chime sounded signaling the end of meditation. The vibration of the chime acted like an on-switch opening a circuit in me. It felt as if every cell was triggered let go and open to a deeper level of awareness and receptivity. I began to breath deeply to receive and ground these new energies. As this rewiring completed, my breathing relaxed and I slowly opened my eyes. I felt profoundly altered. The vase of fresh flowers on the floor in the center of our circle came into view, vibrating in a kaleidoscope of color. Turning my attention to the window and to the view of of the garden and the lake, in a moment of perfect synchronicity, a majestic Great Blue Heron took flight, gracefully skimming across the water – a lovely spiritual exclamation to my shift! I gazed with a heightened perception, and through the soft veil of rain, nature shimmied with intensified color. Spiritual significance of heron: vigilance, renewal, transformation.

And it continued to rain – persistent showers nourishing the land with a libation to the Mother. Clearly, for us retreatants, the weather was mirroring an inner cleansing process. Then, on the final day, as I completed morning meditation, the room began to brighten. Could it be? Sun? I opened my eyes. Indeed, the sun was rising above treetops! And while my co-inhabitants rejoiced – trees, bestowed with garlands of aqueous jewels, glistened in the golden light and my feathered friends, chatting cheerfully, alighted from tree to tree – this delighted devotee managed to contain his joy in silence.

With sun shining, I was eager to venture out for a nature walk. What a glorious day! A walk in paradise itself: powder blue sky suspending string-of-pearl cumulous clouds, earth greeting morning rays gleefully!

There was to be one final meditation before we would break our silence at lunch. We shared our sense that the effects of our work here were profound and far-reaching. Later, our confirmation came. My friend, Judith, emailed me to say that after I departed, the sky remained clear and blue and over 100 Canadian Geese landed in the lake, staying all day and into the evening! Then the next day after the geese left, a river otter, accepting our invitation, arrived on the lake to play. And she too stayed all day to bask in the light.

In Native American tradition, the otter symbolizes feminine power, grace, empathy, joy, and playfulness! Geese are inspiration, happiness, and providence. Providence – indeed!