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Volunteer Profile: Judy Strebel

The Secret Birthday

I had long heard of Spirit Rock from my friends, but West Marin seemed like a universe away from San Francisco.  I didn't have a car, so I mentally filed Spirit Rock under "exotic locations" and went on with my life. Every year on my birthday I always do something that challenges me.  On my birthday in 2011, Spirit Rock had an intriguing daylong with Will Kabat-Zinn entitled "Who Am I?" It seemed like such an auspicious coincidence that I immediately signed up. My mind was blown wide open as if someone had exploded a stick of dynamite in my head. 

I spent a full year thinking about Spirit Rock and what a magical place it is, but not actually doing anything about it. It wasn't until my birthday came around again in July 2012, that I remembered how evolutionary my previous birthday had been, and how it would be nice to do it again. Luckily for me, my birthday fell on a Monday last year. I stumbled upon the Volunteer page of the Spirit Rock website and discovered an opportunity to help in the kitchen preparing the Monday Night Dinner.

In retrospect, contacting Spirit Rock's Volunteer Coordinator turned out to be one of the most important conversations I had in 2012. While I was at Spirit Rock, I kept my birthday a secret, yet noticed many auspicious secret birthday signs. Chef Denis assigned me to assist in making a desert tart which turned out to be my secret birthday cake. The Monday night talk was held in the grand Upper Retreat Hall and Jack Kornfield was the speaker. I felt that I had to make volunteering at Spirit Rock a regular part of my life. Since then I've been volunteering twice a month in the kitchen and once or twice a month at the daylong workshops. 

Volunteering at Spirit Rock has greatly enriched my life by introducing me to new ideas and new people. I am a librarian. I was raised to believe in the idea of service, helping others who have less than me. I love helping people, but I've learned that at Spirit Rock, the people I am helping are actually helping me more. While I am always learning from the programs I attend, in my opinion, the greatest wisdom, insight, practical knowledge and support I receive comes from the other volunteers and staff. I especially enjoy the company of the wise women I am fortunate enough to work with in the kitchen. 

I strongly encourage everyone who reads this to volunteer at Spirit Rock. When you volunteer you immediately become a part of something far larger and far greater than yourself - a community and a family.  Please look for me if you come to a daylong workshop or a Monday night dinner, and say hello. 

To learn more about our volunteer program, please visit www.spiritrock.org/volunteer or contact our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteering@spiritrock.org or (415) 488-0164 ext 224.



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