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Finding Beauty in Brokenness: Our Own Deep Wells Turns One

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love birthdays. I’m a person who often celebrates a birthday week (ok since I know my friends are reading this, I’ll be truthful, it’s more of a birthday month). I savor the opportunity to pause, reflect, and celebrate all that has occurred in yet another journey around the sun. I often take myself to the woods or a sandy shore to absorb the mystery and magic of all that unfolded, and I bow to the dreams not yet realized. 

Birthdays and anniversaries are one of the few invitations that we as a species provide to each other to shift business as usual and focus on the preciousness of our time on earth. With our finite time, I’m always pushing for more opportunities to commemorate lavishly! It is with that spirit of joy, and the deliciousness of champagne, cake, and confetti that I invite us to celebrate the one year birthday of Our Own Deep Wells, a movement born out of a collective call for healing and connection. 

As I sat down to write this piece, I felt the heaviness and grief of what has simultaneously unfolded over the last year: increased violence and devastation, especially in Gaza, Sudan, and Haiti coupled with continued climate catastrophe. 

What a time of debilitating grief. 

My dear friend, Terry Tempest Williams speaks to what it means to be human in an era of physical and spiritual fragmentation in her book, Finding Beauty In a Broken World. Terry says that, “Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.” As I reflect on my personal anxiety and depression over the last year — especially as I watch friends lead solitary encampments and call for Palestinian liberation and freedom on campuses across the US in recent weeks — I remember the importance of this collective and project. I remember how nourishing and life-giving retreats and gatherings with members of the OODW collective have been, how circles have saved me in times of deep darkness, and how soulful practices have kept me tethered to my divinity. 

So beloveds, we witness the brokenness of this planet and the failures of our own species, but we also celebrate the beauty and moments of light and growth. As an OODW collective, we celebrate new friendships, expanding partnerships, and the creation of soulful resources that are impacting communities across the country. Beyond the specific highlights of our first year that are included below, what feels most significant is that OODW, our collective, YOU, and the resources for human connectedness that we are creating, are sparking hope and beauty in a world that desperately needs it. 

As we continue to grow and expand our collective, gratitude remains at the center of our work. We are incredibly grateful for you and for the support of our beloved community. To those who attended a retreat, led or participated in a practice, donated time or resources to our work, shared our website with a friend, subscribed to receive this newsletter, believed in us, and prayed for us along the way– we see you and we deeply appreciate you. 

This moment in history, with its beauty and brokenness, ushers us to grieve, to feel, and to heal collectively. Each of us is worthy and deserving of the time and space to pause and tap into our own deep wells of wisdom and sacred knowledge. We hope that our resources and invitations can help the world to do just that. 

In closing, I first want to invite you to subscribe to our newsletter (at the bottom of our site) so that you can stay up to date with all of our offerings. Second, in honor of our ONE year anniversary, we want you to invite ONE friend to subscribe to our newsletter! Third, we want to invite you to celebrate something in your life- and I mean celebrate big. Perhaps it’s an anniversary, or birthday, or small win, but may you take yourself to a special place, or pour a glass of something delicious, and remember how precious and needed you are. This life is short, may you find joy and beauty in each and every sacred moment.

Thank you, and cheers to all that is yet to come! 

With love and radical solidarity, 

Anna Del Castillo (she/her)

OODW Executive Director 

OODW Year One Highlights: 

OODW celebrated its one year anniversary on April 20th, and we are excited to share some of the highlights and milestones of the past 365 days. 

In April of 2023, OODW hosted a launch retreat in Lynchburg, Virginia. Over twenty beautiful souls gathered in a downtown loft to engage in soulful practices, collaborate, deepen relationship, and dream of the future of OODW. We are building a movement dedicated to adapting communal and individual soulful practices to build mental and emotional resilience. Since the inaugural retreat, OODW has:

  • Grown its team, including the hiring of Anna Del Castillo (she/her) as Executive Director and formalizing roles for, Chief Creative Officer, Chief Visionary Officer, Project Assistant, and Grant Writer 

  • Launched a website and virtual platform 

  • Hosted three learning journeys to deepen our connection to communities that center earth- honoring and communal ways of life. 

  • Began curating our Guide to Soulful Practices

  • Created an advisory board of soulful innovators, mental health professionals, and community leaders

  • Began forming a SoulTrust of 20+faith leaders from across the country to serve as collaborators and  partners as we reach new audiences

  • Hosted a second OODW retreat with 20 people at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA

  • Received generous funding from the following organizations: Spirituality Mind Body Institute Teachers College Columbia University , Texas Methodist Foundation/Wesley Impact Partners, the Wayfarer Foundation (Ba”hai), and the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church.

And we are just getting started!

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