by Jennifer Jacobs
Remember the opening scene of The Sound of Music, when Maria heads to the hills outside the abbey? She spins around in the grass of the Alps with her arms out and her face to the sky, singing that famous song. Being outside, away from her duties and her abbey family, feeds her in a way that her normal routine does not.
I’m no singing nun (for one thing, sit next to me during a hymn—what I lack in pitch, I make up for in volume), but sometimes I feel how I imagine Maria does. When I’m untethered and have some distance from my regular responsibilities, it’s easier for me to see the beauty around me and to breathe deeply, and sometimes in those moments I really do imagine spreading my arms wide and twirling around, belting my heart out.
The women’s retreat was like that for me last year: a time to pause from regular work, to trust that another (a husband, a colleague) can do one’s work, or simply to leave some work undone. While I’ve been writing this, I’ve fielded inquiries from children curious about plans for dinner, angry at a sibling for taking too long in the bathroom, and worried about an upcoming event. It is my privilege to help untangle these knots, but the first weekend in October I will head to Stillwater, and they will rest in my husband’s competent hands. Women, consider stepping out of your responsibilities and taking a day to rest.
Young mothers, especially, consider. The image in my mind of the mother of a young child is a figure bent over. A mother kneels, squats, dips her head—she makes herself smaller to get close to the little ones alongside her. There is much beauty in this pose! A stooped body is a humble body; we get low, often, to serve others.But only with a face tilted upward—I’m picturing Maria again—can you feel the warmth of the sun across your cheeks. Only when your shoulders are up and back can you take a deep cleansing breath. And the sun and the air refresh and reenergize you when you come back to the work set before you. In yoga, the third or fourth return to a pose in the same session often yields a deeper stretch and steadier arms than the first time in the same position. After a break, and time in other poses that use muscles differently, your body returns to the work more ably.
Women, are you feeling the sun on your cheeks? Are you breathing deeply? Come to Dunrovin in October. Change your posture and return home with new energy.