I am in the process of synthesizing my thoughts and reflections from the retreat I attended last weekend; you can look for a post about some of those details in the next few days. In the meantime, I do have a funny story that I can share with you that occurred on the grounds of the retreat conference center.
The second-to-last day of the retreat is held in silence (i.e., none of the participants talk [at all], nor do we watch TV, listen to the radio/iPod/other noise-making device, use the computer, send or receive text messages, read, write, use gestures, exchange eye contact, etc.). The teachers are allowed to talk, but they do so minimally (i.e., they only speak to give meditation instructions, and these instructions are usually only 5-10 minutes long). The purpose of the day of silence is to not distract (or sedate) ourselves, and to allow ourselves to see deeply into our minds and hearts.
So, there we are, 25 highly-paid, moderately powerful/influential corporate executives, silently walking outside at a snail’s pace. We paused underneath a tree while one of the teachers looked at the sky – and we all followed her gaze to see a bald eagle sitting on a branch about 30 feet in the air. Wow. Everyone stopped and stared – and for a full 2-3 minutes, all anyone did was look and breathe (including the eagle – I can only imagine what it thought to have 25 people staring up at it). But after a few minutes of watching us, apparently the eagle became pretty comfortable with our presence, because at about this time it stood up slightly on the branch, and released a healthy stream of pee and poop. Immediately, about half of the group (adult business executives, mind you) burst into laughter, while the rest of us chuckled and shook our heads. (Apparently no matter your age or career choice, bodily functions are funny.) Having relieved itself, the eagle settled back on the tree branch, and we continued to watch it. (Because hey, what else were we going to do? Sit inside on a meditation cushion with our eyes closed?)
Thirty seconds later, a second eagle swooped around from the east, and landed on the tree branch next to Eagle #1. [And THAT was an amazing sight to see!] Eagle #2 then made a sound/call, and Eagle #1 responded with a similar sound/call – and with that, Eagle #2 got top of Eagle #1, and the two, um, “got busy” (i.e., ensured their lineage would survive). At this point every adult in our group burst into loud, boisterous laughter and guffaws (which didn’t seem to bother the eagles at all). Here we were, immersed in a day of silence where even eye contact is discouraged – and we witness anything-but-modest behavior from some feisty birds. What a crazy contrast! Absolutely hilarious.