Saturday, February 17, 2007

Memoirs of the Soul

I drove down to the Cape last night weary from a long week full of meetings (albeit good) and travel (albeit interesting). I was tired from the strain of long-carried burdens and sore (from my soap-operation of the morning). I did not know what to expect of the weekend, although I did expect to feel comfortable and comforted at the very least. I've been on a WriteLines retreat before, so know the purpose is to come away feeling empowered as a writer and nurtured as a person. Already I've felt both.

It started with the food. Eating out as a vegetarian is always risky because you never know what's really in the food, even if it has "no meat." Earlier this week in Corpus Christi reinforced that. Fortunately, the retreat director knows and understands my parameters, and so instructs the retreat hosts accordingly. Last night, the woman prepared a lentil-pumpkin stew for me that was truly delicious. How did she know that lentil stew is a favorite of mine (since second grade when we were studying Jacob in Bible class and our teacher made us lentil stew so we'd have an idea of what Jacob had traded his inheritance for. I always thought that even though it was a seriously unequal trade, the stew was almost, but not quite, worth the longing.)? Of course I've never had it with pumpkin. Now I'm wondering why ever not?

The first writing session lasted 3 hours and introduced the six of us (another came this morning) to each other. When I write with groups, especially with strangers, I'm always hesitant to give away too much until I hear how vulnerable they're willing to be. This group of women gave away quite a bit last night. Most more than I. They shared some of the heartaches and tribulations they'd gone through in their lives. One had had brain surgery, another had lost a grandchild (via miscarriage). Some had left their church behind, others were struggling with relationships.

And then there's me. Looking back, now, on what I've revealed, I'm wondering what they know, or think they know, about me. Of course that's not the goal. More to the point, what have I come to know about myself so far? We've now had two 3-hour sessions and written four rough pieces. And here's what I've learned (or been reminded of): I am a blessed person. My life is good and centered and filled with love and support. I have purpose, and I have promise...and plans for the present as well as the future. That's more than many, and better than most. That's what surfaced for me by the end of the morning.

Photos: Harbor Inn, the guest rooms of the Evensong Retreat Center; a garden decoration; the door to my room (#5 on the right); Margaret's Walk, a labyrinth at the back of the retreat property; and the pillow on my bed: Bloom where you are planted.

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