The Gay Spirit Visions Council has been in discussion for the last month on how to respond to the changes COVID-19 has made in our gathering practices. As you may have already seen on The Mountain’s website, the Spring Retreat at The Mountain has been cancelled. We cannot in good conscience hold a gathering of this nature at this time with such an intimate family such as yourselves. We have hesitated to make the announcement official until we had something for you as an alternative.
There’s been a debate on whether we should simply cancel the Spring Retreat and do nothing until the Fall Conference, assuming things recover by then. However, during this time of physical isolation, where many are struggling to get their social and spiritual needs met, having a spirit-based community of like-minded people such as Gay Spirit Visions to connect with was worth stepping into the unknown to try to make happen for you all. Additionally, if the current epidemic cannot be controlled in this country by September, we might miss out completely on our Fall Conference as well.
Right now, the council is in discussion with our Spring Convener about the possibility of a virtual Spring Retreat so that we may connect safely with our community in these difficult times. We know that we need something more than a Facebook group and an e-mail list to make a gathering. We are still brainstorming and running logistics on possibilities for what this might look like and how best to implement it. We’ve decided it’s worth pursuing because it’s an exercise in adaptability for our organization and it gives us experience for handling similar circumstances in the future. We’re trying to keep options open, setting signposts and benchmarks for what may come.
In our daily lives, many of us are struggling to connect with our friends and family in satisfying ways. We understand a virtual gathering is not the same as hugging our siblings, but right now, it’s what is safe. Again, we’ll be upfront with you. We don’t know what this is going to look like. In truth, we don’t even know if we can pull it off. We have a lot of ideas and we’re trying to find the tangible things that we need in order to manifest our ideas (and to determine which ideas we are even able to implement), and one thing is becoming very apparent: we’re going to need a lot of help if we want to make this happen.
Most of our ideas come back to the importance of video conferencing to make this happen. That involves someone hosting it. One person cannot host an entire weekend. Our main limitation right now in this regard is the number of people who are willing and able to volunteer to facilitate for a specific amount of time, if we want to make it approximate a weekend retreat.
We’re also currently focusing on making the heart-to-heart connection happen above all else, which we believe to be at the core of the GSV experience. However, we are still open to potential workshops as long as they can be conducted over a digital medium. It may be difficult-to-impossible to have a traditional Heart Circle, so we’re trying to figure out an appropriate alternative, depending on how many people might attend the gathering. Again, all these ideas are subject to change as we sit down and continue working through what’s feasible and what’s not. Trust us, if we could, we would want nothing more than to give you a full gathering at The Mountain in a safe way, but right now we can’t.
It will be different. It may be very imperfect. But if we can get together for even a single two-hour gathering, we’re calling it a success. The more help we have, the more we can do. But if we don’t have help, we cannot guarantee that there will be even that to look forward to. So, if you have a desire and willingness to help make this happen, we strongly urge you to reach out to us.
The best part is you don’t have to leave the comfort of your bed to help!
If you are a member of a GSV Working Circle, please consider how you might translate your work at The Mountain to a digital medium.
Thank you for your patience and for your compassionate understanding as we try to navigate the waters of this difficult time.
From The Council, with Love,
Jason Buchanan, Presiding Elder
Robert “Bear of the RO” McDonald, Elder of Finance
John Rivest, Elder of Records
Bruce “Dandy” Tidwell
Jonny “Mothra” Gray
Mackie “Luna Farfalla” Obando