It’s hard to convey the power of the experience that was the retreat I facilitated for two separate groups of Spanish-speaking community members in San Fernando at the end of the first week of June, but I have to try. Because, comunidad, it was so special.
This retreat was filled with men and women who had been a part of our nearly two-year partnership with LA Education Partnership which began in 2021. Over the span of 16 months total, I facilitated two rounds of the Criandome Cuidandome Reparenting Ourselves series via Zoom. Each month, I would facilitate active participation in processing of the framework of the Inner Niñe–Inner Parent–Future Abuelite Self. By the second round, the group had the language down. I found ourselves going deeper in the work. The energy grew stronger and more connected between all of us.
One of the most memorable experiences I had through this process was the week of Uvalde and the people in the group held each other and processed the experience, the fears, the hopes for solutions, how this felt in our bodies, and how we might be able to help our children navigate the scariness of the world, when we ourselves sometimes feel doubtful we can do so ourselves. I can’t explain how needed it was to be in virtual Circulo this week for us all. We began talking about eventually being able to see each other in person, with a convivio or some other kind of graduation celebration. It became something spoken until the end of the sessions earlier this Spring.
Then, at the end of May of this year, a year after Uvalde, Nancy and Sandra, who had been the lideres of the coordination and execution of this partnership, invited us to San Fernando to facilitate a retreat for the group of 40 people that I had been working with over the last two years. It was an immediate hell yes. I would FINALLY get to hug Doña Carmen, Lidia, las Marias, and so many others that I had looked forward to seeing virtually for two years.
Danellia, my comadre and Director of Community Partnerships for LP, helped me set up the altar in the center of the room. I had asked the participants to bring something for the altar, and the items ranged from dolls to frames to yo-yo’s and small wicker chairs. We added plantitas, Gratitude affirmation cards, burning palo santo, and other grounding items.
We set our intentions for the hours we would share together and began with a meditation to bring us into a space of connection with our Inner Niñes. We moved into some deep reflective exercises that included journaling, empathic listening, gentle touch, and holding one another in our arms and with the intention to allow ourselves to be held and to hold. There were so many stories and experiences shared, along with many laughs and tears. Danellia assisted by sharing with us all her musical medicinal gifts through singing.
Each of the two sessions was completely unique but equally beautiful. The vulnerability that was displayed between all of us as a group, between the participants, and with themselves, was sincere and magical.
I remain feeling so privileged to have been able to remind the group of the truth about themselves, their sacredness, and their capacity for healing themselves and everyone they’d be experienced by thereafter. It was an honor to hold space for the stories and witness the ways they were all willing to drop into the deepest parts of themselves in community. It’s a retreat I will never forget and one that I hope to replicate for many others to generate similar heart-opening experiences that are centered in culture and our capacity for love and liberation from the most personal and interpersonal levels out to the greater community. I am grateful.