Harmony Hill (Couples Cancer Camp)


I want to Facebook my experience here at Harmony Hill, but I can’t quite find a way to capture in just a few words how tender, compassionate, connected and true this space is. I suppose true might be the right word. True like a perfectly hung bridge or a musical note perfectly rung.

At first the gentle softness of the young woman who greeted us and showed us to our room put me off. Being treated so carefully and tenderly made me feel delicate and fragile (why do I judge myself negatively for that?) – and almost guilty about the strength and stamina I still (why proudly?) command.

The rooms are warm, both in texture and temperature. The people surrounding me all carry this centered soft focus. And within the hour I feel myself opening into it.

The food is amazing. Fresh kale salad that you would honestly choose over any other dish because it’s the most delicious and not because it’s the most nutritious. Spaghetti squash, roasted beets, stuffed squash… I don’t know where they found their cook, but WOW. Most of us are in some pretty harsh treatments for cancer and we’re all eating for pleasure here, way more than we’d ever have true hunger for.

At the first group session, a welcome session, Davhal, one of our facilitators, takes out a lovely wooden bowl. This bowl has been used in hundreds of gatherings like ours. Our job is to deposit something into the bowl, something we don’t want to carry with us this weekend. He assures us that we’ll have the opportunity to take it back at the end of the weekend if we desire, but we can also choose to simply leave it and walk away.

Only because I have permission to pick it up again before leaving do I decide to place my mental image of my children, or rather the worries I have about my children, into this bowl.

When the bowl is passed to me, I feel the heaviness, a there-ness separate from the mass of its polished wood. I pour my two children and that anxiety gently into the bowl and carefully pass it on.

I felt my children being carried away, covered with motherly angst and yet, simultaneously they were persistently there, clear and present within me, unburdened by my fears. They were clean, crisp, and clear, like the mountains we could see across the water, bathed in winter sunlight.



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