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Ok I Surrender



A tale of unexpected healing.

This article appeared in our Winter 2003 issue. On my birthday, September 6, 2001, I leaned against the redwood in the center of a labyrinth at Harmony Hill Retreat Center, where I am program director, and prayed for a word to guide my next birth-year. I kissed the soft, fissured bark and heard, “Surrender.” My eyes startled open. Surrender? I was looking for something more comforting. Healing, perhaps. Or abundance. Or joy. With a shudder — what would I be asked to surrender to? — I reluctantly prayed to learn more of its graces and gifts. I’ve been a psychologist for more than 20 years and have worked with cancer patients here at Harmony Hill for five years. If I’ve learned anything, it is to pay attention to these gifts of the spirit. But surrender? Ouch! Five days later — September 11,2001 — I was once more at the center of the redwood labyrinth, this time with the Harmony Hill staff and 15 women in gray overalls from the Women’s Correctional Center who had been working in the gardens. We held one another and cried as the world erupted in fire and pain. In the weeks th …

Melissa West, M.A., is a psychologist and program manager for Harmony Hill Retreat Center. She is the author of Exploring the Labyrinth: A Guide for Healing and Spiritual Growth (Broadway Books, 2000), and Silver Linings (Fair Winds Press, 2003) about trauma as a catalyst for an extraordinary life.

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