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The Gift of a Weekend Retreat by Eddy Royal

Mid-way through May, twenty or so of my fellow 2014 LNZ cohort gathered in Waiheke for a three-day retreat.

It had been many months since most of us had seen each other and I wasn’t sure what to expect. We’d been through a huge journey together the year before. We’d shared our hopes, our fears, and our lives. And then, just like that our year was over and, well… life went on. 

So, as the wild winter weather blew us into our weekend together, the wind echoing our initial anxiety at what to expect, the rain then came with fierce intention washing away any trepidation, and the sun pushed the clouds aside bringing warmth and encouragement.

And, as we all came back together, there was a strong sense of being home. There was an immediate trust in the room. It just felt like we were all where we belonged.

We didn’t really know what was in store for the weekend ahead. But we seemed to be okay with that.

And that was my first realisation that we had all grown over our LNZ year. During our year together I had the feeling that many of us were seeking certainty. We wanted to know what was coming next. We wanted to be prepared. Perhaps we even wanted to be in control.

But not now. Now we were ready to live in the uncertainty. To see what emerged. To just let go, and let it happen.

With the winter sun shining, the weekend unfolded with walks along the beach, long conversations, lots of time for reflection and plenty of laughter.

Using a PechaKucha style of presentation, we all shared the highs and lows of the last six months. As stories were shared, I sat smiling at how open and brave everyone was. I reflected on how special it was that this seemingly random group of individuals had created a space that was safe and supportive for everyone to stand up and speak their mind.

It was with this safety and support that speaking our minds became the theme for the weekend really. As the final evening stretched out over food and several drinks, conversation quickly turned to the ‘gifts’ of honesty that people had given or received the previous year.

All those who had given or received gifts had recognised (possibly with the distance of time), how valuable their interactions were. And now we wanted to share what we saw in each-other, the vulnerabilities and the strengths. It could have gone very badly. But there was so much aroha behind everyone’s words, that we finally understood that this truth speaking really was a gift.

As the weekend came to a close and we ventured back to our lives, this time I know that our LNZ family will always be there. And that spending time together is the gift that keeps on giving.