I posted my thoughts about the Joshua Tree Solo Camping Retreat when I returned but was so inspired by Stephanie's truly deep experience that I asked her to write a guest blog post about her experience. I so appreciated that she chose to dig deep into her own spirituality bringing only her bible and her journal. Although The Healing Farm strives to be non-spiritually focussed we would never discount anyone's spiritual experience and as a Christian, I was inspired to pray with Stephanie when I left her for the first time alone in her campsite knowing that because of the coming storm it would be a challenge for her.
When you spend almost 48 hours alone in a tent with howling winds and dust and absolutely no cell or internet service you are forced to dig deep and dig deep is what she did. Thankfully the sun came out and the winds died down for her third day!
Here's super trooper Stephanie's take on her experience. I'm so happy she's still up for the Mayacamas Ranch retreat experience next month! Here's what Stephanie wrote:
Joshua Tree Thoughts
I wore the same clothes for 3 days. Brushing my teeth was optional, I needed every layer I had and thank God for hand warmers to make it though the night. Not what I had anticipated, however, what I found beyond my comfort was revealed…if I had eyes to see.
When faced with circumstances that challenge us, we have a choice to make. We can run from them, we can fight against them or we can allow them to ‘be’ and be willing to learn, grow and find revelation.
The Joshua Tree Solo Retreat invitation landed before me, my adventure spirit immediately said ‘yes!’, the part of me that longs to hear my own thoughts and spend time with God felt awakened. I’m in! The day arrives, last minute details of picking up some firewood…I am standing in a parking lot of a home improvement store in a small town with my suitcase, sleeping bag and a cart full of firewood. My thought…“I’m waiting in a parking lot for someone I’ve never met, who’s going to take me somewhere I’ve never been. That’s crazy!”. Have you ever been somewhere that didn’t make sense to your brain, but you knew you were supposed to be there?
I’d never seen a landscape like Joshua Tree; desert, mountain, boulders and basically one type of tree standing alone as far as you could see. It was uniquely beautiful. My campsite looked like it was straight out of a ‘Go on an adventure! Explore the outdoors! Be free!’ magazine. I was so exhilarated at the thought of living in this space, to exhale and unplug for a moment. As the next few days unfolded, I would be faced with multiple challenges of body, mind and spirit…lack of sleep, high-powered winds, cold temperatures, fear, disappointment and vulnerability. But in those same moments, if I was willing, I was also invited into surrender, trust, faith and courage. I heard a whisper inside of me…”who are you beyond your comfort?” Wow. That’s a question I’ve never thought about. Seriously, who wants to be out of their comfort?! Crazy!
And that’s exactly where I found myself. It was horrible and wonderful at the same time. What I chose to focus on in the midst of the sense of un-raveling, revealed to me elements of my framework. What did I cling to?
I chose God.
With each declaration of His goodness, “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all”, He wove my unraveling back together.
His nearness is my good.
My desire to know Him outweighed my comfort. I long to know God more in every circumstance. I will search for Him. He tells us He will be found when we search for Him with our whole heart. Thank You Lord for the opportunity to see beyond my comfort, to choose You and to grow my roots a little bit deeper.
As the sun was revealed and pierced through the clouds on the third day, it was warmth on my face…joy and peace in my heart. Being present in the moment. My experience was unexpected, but full of purpose. I have been changed, and for this I am grateful.