Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fear No Rain

I have been meaning to take another stab at retreat. I had the flu on my birthday, so my trip to the art/yoga studio at Herrbrook was a different experience than the one I envisioned. So I booked another stay. I brought my computer along. I was open to inspiration but my list of possibilities included: work on my novel, journal, write some letters, perhaps do some impromptu art, walk the labyrinth, plan my upcoming workshop, read Moosewood cookbooks, read a magazine, do some sun salutations, drink herbal tea. The day started off with sprinkles, but that didn't even come into my consciousness. I like the rain, and it pushes me to the interior world that was my destination anyway. So, armed with a cup of coffee, an oatmeal cookie, leftover potato leek soup, my computer, journal, and stacks of books, I entered the cottage. There was a chill, so I turned on the space heater. Took off my crocs and put on some snugly slipper socks. Lit a candle. Arranged myself under a blanket on a wicker rocker with a great view of the rainy garden intending to spend my first 30 minutes in journal mode.

This cottage is loaded with art supplies and books, but the one thing that was prominently displayed was a book entitled Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I know the owner of Herrbrook has peered at my blog, but did she peer into my soul? Who knows who put the book right near my candle, but I picked it up and read over 60 pages sitting in that chair. I also journaled 21 pages--enough that my hand couldn't hold a pen to sign my kids' permission slips later that evening. It was as if the book was written for me for this particular time and place. I went to a deep place. Some of it I absorbed immediately. Some I must sort through. I borrowed the book and will continue doing a chapter a day until I finish. And hopefully, I can reveal some of what I learned in these musings.

There was a mid-day break in the clouds, and I used the time to walk barefoot through the wet grass 11-circuit labyrinth on the property. I gained even more insight from this exercise. Waiting for me in the center of the labyrinth was a cat. I am not a cat person, but this cat seemed to know I needed a guide through the process. In the goddess tradition, Bast is an Egyptian cat goddess of play. Maybe that is more symbolism than is necessary here, but I did feel a kinship with this animal. It started to rain in sprinkles, but though I entered the labyrinth walking with my hands dug deep into my pockets, my arms loosened on the way out. I noticed that they were outstretched to feel and accept the rain. It was a reaction that was intuitive. I didn't think about the fact that I was doing it until I was almost done walking.

A little wet, I returned to the comfort of the studio. Sipped my soup. Ascended into the yoga loft where I could simultaneously read, journal, and hear the rain hitting the roof. This blog entry is about the physicality of the day. I will get into the insights later. But I slept well last night. That always a testament to a day well spent.

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