|View from Point of View cabin, Stillpoint Lodge, Halibut Cove|
Early in the spring I signed up for a retreat at Stillpoint Lodge in Halibut Cove. I don't think I realized what a treat I had signed myself up for. A few months later I looked on Stillpoint's website, and I was expecting rustic, basic cabins. Instead, it looked luxurious and beautiful. In reality, it was somewhere between the two. It is quite an amazing place, though, so here's a brief on the place and the experience.
The travels begin at the Halibut Cove check-in office on the Homer Spit. From there I made my way to Pier One and the Danny J, a wooden J boat from World War II that now functions as the main ferry from Homer to Halibut Cove. The boat was full the day I headed over, last Thursday. Most people would be heading over just for a few hours, to eat at The Saltry, wander the boardwalks and peruse the art galleries. Part of the ride included a swing by Gull Island to check out the gulls, puffins, cormorants and other seabirds that might be hanging out. We saw a few sea otters as well.
Eating at The Saltry, Halibut Cove's one restaurant, was next on the agenda. All of the retreat participants sat together at one table (7 of us), plus the 2 nuns who were facilitating our retreat (Marguerite Buchanan & Suzanne Toolan), plus Stillpoint's owner, Jan Thurston. It was sunny and warm so we sat outside, enjoying great service, excellent food and each other's company. Some of the retreatants had been there before, while for others it was their first time.
After lunch, we wandered down the boardwalk and up a trail to the Halibut Cove cemetery, and a view of the arch. The gazebo is the final resting place for Diana Tillion, who passed away a couple years ago. She and her family were (still are) huge influences on life in Halibut Cove.
At 4:00 we arrived at the mail dock (the post office is on a dock) to catch a quick ride across the cove from the island (which we were on) to the mainland (which Stillpoint is on). The adventure was just beginning!
|The dock at Stillpoint|
|Main lodge, view from entryway, Stillpoint|
|Lounge in main lodge at Stillpoint|
After a brief primer on how things would go at the retreat, each person was turned over to a staff person who would take us to our cabins. Our luggage had been stowed on the Danny J in Homer and transported to our cabins already.
|View of dining room from lounge in main lodge|
|Point of View cabin|
I received instruction on how to use the composting toilet, how to use the blinds, and then was left to freshen up, unpack and get my bearings.
|Inside of Point of View|
|The rooms were very comfortable.|
|Dinners were beautiful, and fed the spirit as well as the body.|
Meals were amazing affairs. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style and were taken in silence, respecting peace and reflection of the retreat setting. Dinner, however, was set beautifully each day, with fresh flowers, linens and different dishes each day and it was a relief to chat and get to know fellow retreatants. I found myself wanting to take a picture of the table setting every day, an urge I have never once in my life had. I tend not to overeat, but the food was so beautiful and so tasty I just wanted to keep eating! It was satisfying and filling, despite no meat (just small amounts of seafood). The food was probably one of the most inspiring parts of my experience at Stillpoint as I discovered the joy of fresh, organic ingredients, tasteful presentation and a slower pace of eating.
The atmosphere and food aside, the retreat itself was a treat. There were 7 ladies there, all from Anchorage except for me. The retreat was called "The Heart of Compassion," which is kind of a amorphous title. One lady, who has come to retreats here every year since it opened, said, "I would come to this retreat even if the topic was moose hunting! Marguerite and Suzanne are wonderful!" The two nuns from San Francisco, come up every year to run retreats, changing the topic each year. They are sweet, but also very real, endearing and not above teasing, qualities I respect in their advanced age (they're both in their 80's). They guided the retreat with a grace that allowed us each to reflect and go inside, but also to express ourselves. It was a nurturing balance.
The only time we could talk was during sessions when we would share our inner thoughts and growth, and dinner. There were 3 sessions a day, punctuated by meals. It set up an atmosphere of being there for that growth rather than just a social chit-chat thing. The day would begin with optional yoga and then meditation, both which were rejuvenating, and the instructors, Lucas and Gita, were wonderful! After the morning session and lunch we had 4 hours of free time to kayak, hike, get a massage, spiritual direction, nap or whatever. I did all of those except the nap, and each were fulfilling and special in their own way, adding to experience.
This year there are 10 retreats and workshops being offered at Stillpoint, with topics ranging from painting and journalling to living a meaningful life and spirituality. The mission of Stillpoint is to develop deeper spiritual connection and creativity. Throughout the summer one can go there on their own to the Hermitage (which has its own kitchenette) for a private get-away, yet still take advantage of the kayaking, hiking, spiritual direction, sauna, library, labyrinth, and more.
|Main lodge, main entrance at Stillpoint|
We were blessed with glorious weather for the three days we were there--warm enough to wear shorts even one day--and that probably helped make this a special time, but it was an amazing retreat and I so recommend it to anyone who might get the chance to go there!
See http://www.stillpointlodge.com/ for other pictures, the retreat schedule and more information.