Carolyn’s First CfR Retreat

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Casting for Recovery’s Development and Communications Director, Carolyn Radackovich volunteered at her first Casting for Recovery retreat this past weekend in Texas! The weekend filled her with deep levels of gratitude. Read more about her experience below.

I think a lot about the poet Mary Oliver when I fish alone. But let me back up and provide some context.

About five years ago my book club decided we would dedicate a month to poetry. We were all intimidated. We weren’t big poetry people, or really poetry people at all. But we dove in and devoted the month to Mary Oliver (“Mary” as she lives in my mind). The rules were this, each of us could read any collection of Mary’s poems but must bring one to read aloud to the group the following month.

The day came to share our poems and something interesting happened. The first person shared their selection and then said, “I actually brought three because I couldn’t choose”. The next person started and the same thing happened and on and on around the room. Mary had done it. Her reflections, leaning heavily on her observations of nature, had made us poetry people.

After that month I found that Mary’s words became my go-to for my quiet moments, reflections, meditations and sometimes prayers. About a year after that book club gathering, I started fly-fishing. As we all know, angling is chaotic at first. Mary wasn’t there initially, when the steam was coming out my ears. But eventually she came. She nudged me to notice and appreciate what was beyond my cast, my fly, my phone.

TX Retreat Participant with River Helper

A couple hours ago I touched down at home in Montana, after spending the week in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas. I was fortunate to be invited to round out the staff for a CfR retreat – my first! I didn’t know what to expect and I’ll admit, I was nervous in the weeks before the retreat. I work for CfR, I know CfR pretty well, but would I be able to serve appropriately as CfR? I thought a lot about the seasoned team I was joining and even more about the fourteen women who were courageous enough to take a chance on us.

What became evident when I muscled the first roller bag out of a woman’s trunk was that all my internal planning about what I thought the weekend would be was fruitless. I could have never imagined the wonder I would experience as things unfolded and the admiration I would feel for the women around me, fully embracing the time our group was spending together.

And so it was, all of us moving through the weekend together. Some of the day a complete blur, some moments deeply profound in ways I didn’t expect. I was there to serve, and tried my best. But on Sunday, as I sat on a big, limestone boulder next to the green-blue Guadalupe River, watching women and their guides fish, I felt Mary Oliver there nudging me to reflect. Between the excited screams echoing up and down the bank each time there was a fish on and joining in the ensuing celebrations, I kept landing on this. The volunteer retreat staff, the participants, they would send me back to Montana with lessons (or gifts as I think of them) for my life. The gift of service as joy. The gift of adventure as living. The gift of presence as connection. The gift of strength for the unknown.

I’m sure this past weekend will be clanging around inside me for quite some time – teaching me more and more. But for now, I’ll leave you with three things. First, my deep gratitude for our incredible volunteer retreat staffs across the country, doing the work of CfR weekend after weekend. Next, the admiration I feel for the women who lean into this model for support in their breast cancer journeys. Last, the following poem, a favorite of mine, that is giving me words I don’t have to describe my weekend in Texas.

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