Sunday, June 8, 2008

Radical Retreat

When I go to bed, I mostly imagine that I am going to sleep in a loft of a log cabin in the middle of the woods. This log cabin does not exist in this world, which is good. If it existed in this world, my mind would be able to wander to other things of this world: worries, deadlines, schedules, inadequacies of kinds. It is a retreat of the mind.

In real life, I do take retreats. Some big and some small. I rent the art cottage at Herrbrook for the day. I go to my friend's cabin with her for hiking, reading, and playing cards. Sometimes we go with a larger group of women; sometimes we go with the kids. We take a family retreat each year when we go to Moondance Farms, another friend's magical hillside abode. She feeds us fabulous meals. We take naps, go for rides and walks through forest trails, and play outdoor games like Frisbee and capture the flag. Each year, I take some sort of philosophical or spiritual book along and dissect the text with more attention than I can muster on anything in my daily life. Last year was the the book Art Lessons by Deborah J. Haynes. (This year my spiritual text may very well be my new cheesemaking book!)

I have often wanted to go to Omega Institute or Kripalu for a more formal retreat. I can imagine taking classes offered by SARK, Sarah Ban Breathnach, Sabrina Ward Harrison, or Pema Chodron. Sarah Susanka is offering a workshop at Omega (July 4-6) on Not so Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters that sounds wonderful--if only I didn't have a a competing commitment. I could imagine spending a summer at either of the two campuses; taking classes on intuition, drumming, yoga, journaling, painting, living intentionally, writing, cooking, meditating, gardening and herbs. And, too, I'd love to teach creative journaling at one of these places. I find that when I give workshops, I get so much out of the experience that it almost seems silly to charge other people for that which gives me so much insight and pleasure. I am sure that one day I will make room, both in my schedule and my checkbook for such important work.

But I have already typed out my summer schedule. It is awash with the full workings of a family--all good stuff, too. I am not here complaining about mispaced prioroties; we are doing the things that matter. My daughter is doing dance and dinner theater. My son has fencing and cross country and meetings with a friend to work on their sci-fi novel. I am teaching multiple workshops, going to a few book clubs. My son and I are trying to work a drumming class or two into our summer. My husband is doing some races and painting the house--not to mention that job thing he does. We are getting new flooring. We have multiple gardens for which each family member has responsibility. My son will probably learn to mow the lawn this summer. And with the gratitude for a daily reality which matters, I find that the need for retreat is diminished somewhat. The retreats will happen on a small scale, including a flight or several to my imaginary cabin, but they will happen.

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