I first arrived in Whitefish, Montana in mid September 2017. R. Carlos Nakai and I were scheduled to perform a concert in Kalispell but it got moved to Whitefish at the last minute. I had never been to that part of Montana before. We were also to perform briefly at a Gala Fund Raiser and Auction at the Dancing Spirit Ranch where we were staying.
I flew in from Maui. I took a redeye from Maui to Denver and then a flight from Denver to Kalispell. It was chilly in Kalispell and rainy. It felt like a harsh contrast from the beautiful warm weather on Maui. And even though I’d only been living full-time on Maui for 16 months my body was very accustomed to it’s warmth. I immediately felt chilled in the wet Montana fall weather. Usually when I travel for concerts I stay in nice hotels. Usually four stars, sometimes five. On this trip we were staying at the Dancing Spirit Ranch just outside of Whitefish and I really didn’t know what to expect. I saw a few photos but didn’t really know anything about the place. I arrived there in the early evening and was shown the “Bunk House” and allowed to pick a room. There wasn’t anyone else staying at the bunk house and there were 7 rooms to pick from.
I picked a room and immediately turned up the heat to 80 degrees. There was no way I was gonna stay alone in a big old bunk house on a cold and rainy fall night and be chilly. Honestly, the contrast between my home on my beloved tropical Maui and the chilly bunkhouse on the empty ranch was just a bit too extreme for me after a long journey. And to be very honest, sometimes it takes me a little while to adjust to extreme geological and climate transitions. That night I was not a happy camper. I felt alone, isolated and way too cold. But I do adjust well to time zone changes for some reason. I find that wherever I travel to, no matter how far, I always wake up at the very crack of dawn and go to sleep at normal hours as well. No jetlag. I don’t know if this comes from traveling long distances since I was 3 years old or if it comes from my very intimate and focused relationship with the sun. I’ve done thousands of hours of sun gazing and sunsets and have had seriously wonderful and somewhat mystical experiences in doing so. But in any case, I woke up at my usual time of 6:30am and decided to take a walk around the property.
The first thing that struck me, besides the chilly wet air, was the trees. There were these beautiful tall old evergreen trees all around the property. So magnificent and solid and deeply rooted. I also noticed the rich dark smell of the earth. So grounding and vibrant. I walked through the trees to the nearby pond and saw the sky reflected in it’s clear glassy surface. After a while the sun began to rise and it’s warmth was a welcomed contrast to the crisp but invigorating fresh air. And I’m talking “fresh” air. These trees were putting out some pretty sweet smelling oxygen and my body was saying “yes!”.
The rest of the morning continued to unfold in this beautiful way. I have spent decades all around Colorado and love the Rocky Mountains there. But up here in northern Montana only 20 minutes from Glacier National Park and a half hour from the Canadian border I was in a new world. Actually an old world of stout majestic trees and fertile soil with an abundance of deer and rivers and lakes. I was having an “experience”. The kind of experience that changes lives. After lunch I felt drawn to a spot alongside the large pond and threw down a blanket and took a nap in the warmth of the afternoon sun. I still had my layers on but the sun felt warm on my face and I fell into a deep nourishing sleep being drawn deeper down into the earth and the roots of the trees. It was probably the sweetest nap I’ve ever taken. And when I awoke supported firmly and lovingly by the earth, in the presence of trees and birds and held softly by the warm light of the Sun, I knew that I wanted to hold a retreat there. This place was special. Magical. Healing. And it was speaking to me. Calling to me. Inviting me in. Deeper. Deeper into my Self. It was asking me to be fully present, here . . . now. And I was just brushing the surface of the potential that I know exists there.
I felt so moved that I immediately started to talking with the Dancing Spirit Ranch about my inspiration to hold a retreat there. Everything fell into place effortlessly and inspiringly. I’m so excited about this retreat. There will be lots of music, a grand piano, crystal singing bowls, delicious organic farm to table meals, sacred nature and geometric sites, exercises and experiences in deep presence, connection with our Selves and each other, afternoon naps in the sun by the lake, evening fire circles, river tubing, canoeing and paddle boarding and so much more. Come join me July 1-8, 2018 for a full week of discovery, presence, inspiration and healing. Check this website for more information about “The Art of Presence”.
Join me . . . in the presence of Trees.
Where the Earth beckons a deeper listen
As it draws you down into it’s peace.
Join me . . . on the edge
of the known and unfamiliar.
In the company of intimate strangers.
Join me . . . for an eternal moment
Within the eye of spiraling time.
As we reclaim what we’ve lost.
Join me . . . in loving emancipation
In blinding night and blinding light.
To awaken once more and again.
- Peter Kater