Elephant’s (Free) Community Retreat: One month to Write, Meditate, & Connect—with Waylon Lewis. Join here.
We did it. We Gathered.
2,730 of us just joined together online from around the world. Quarantines and lockdowns cannot block the Elephant Journal community. An hour passed like minutes.
Greetings of cheer climbed up the side of my computer’s screen. People from Italy, Egypt, New Zealand, Belgium, England, Canada, America, and all over the planet said, “Hello!” Even though I was alone, quiet in my home, I suddenly felt surrounded by friends. An endless line of people’s names, emojis, and welcoming words created an enthusiastic energy during the minutes before Waylon Lewis, the founder of Elephant Journal, led the retreat.
It. Was. Joyful.
The number of people and the diversity of countries created a vibe like none other, and so do the reasons behind why everyone joined the community in the first place.
Writers wanting to be of benefit flock to Elephant Journal. Everyone is welcome, and anyone may submit. Poets, project managers, lawyers, practitioners, students, artists, musicians, mothers and fathers, activists, environmentalists, teachers, bloggers, politicians, business owners, and people high in life or getting back on their feet write for Elephant and could have had a seat in the gathering.
The Elephant Academy attracted many of us together. We wanted to learn techniques to strengthen our writing, how to edit, what libel means, and why emotionalism is discouraged. Courses on topics like social media, writing a book, and finding your voice each draw in a different type of audience.
I’ve been a part of the Academy’s community for years and have found many connections that will probably last my lifetime. I learn something new from someone new every time I get involved. Many familiar names caught my eye throughout the meeting and brought a wide smile. My phone was pinging like it was singing from all of the messages hitting my old group chats.
Some stumble into this community as readers. We search for articles with tips to be more mindful, to practice meditation, to be a better lover, or to beat writer’s block. Many hope to discover how to cope with life, loneliness, divorce, or depression. Regardless, everyone was invited.
No matter how the invitation came, almost 3,000 people gathered. Waylon led a meeting of joy. His enthusiasm and emotional connection to the subjects and to us were undeniable. Somehow, one man on a screen, talking into a camera, next to a sidebar flying with comments felt like a hug, comfortable and warm.
We discussed how to be of benefit during this time of crisis, like helping small businesses by buying gift certificates for later and shopping locally instead of from the big box stores online. He read us inspirational text; and when we were chatting too much, he calmly quieted us and directed our attention back to the conversation. The meditation offered was instructional for those who were new and transformative for all of us. The entire experience felt like a real retreat, but I was still alone at home…and it was free.
We are thirsting for community and connection now more than ever. Staying isolated at home to stop the spread of the Coronavirus and to help health workers around the world with their overload of patients has become our new cultural norm. Being grounded isn’t easy, and our togetherness made life lighter for a while.
The retreat will be happening again on the next three Fridays. I’ve set an alarm on my phone for the next one. If you were in attendance today, thank you. Your energy was contagious. I can still feel it. If you missed it, watch a replay or join us online next time.
“Come on, people now. Smile on your brother. Everybody get together. Try to love one another right now.” ~ The Youngbloods