Scenes from a writing weekend

Over the weekend I had the good fortune to attend a women’s writing and meditation retreat. I can’t think of anything I would rather have been doing in the first days of the new year than listening to poetry, writing, practicing yoga, watching the breath, walking in the woods.

Here is the way our retreat room greeted us on Friday afternoon:

Retreat room

The retreat was held a couple hours south of Boulder, at the Benet Pines Monastery, a community of Benedictine women. On Saturday morning I went for a walk as the sun was beginning to lighten the tips of the trees. Birds were stretching their morning wings, and though I caught glimpses of them, I couldn’t identify any except for the “dee-dee-dee” of the black-capped chickadee.

Ponderosa forest

The ponderosas were peaceful and present. I’d set aside the weekend as the perfect opportunity to sit with the next chapter of the book I’m working on, see if I could find a path through the images.

Chapters don’t arrange themselves when you think they should. I sat. I dabbled in words. I waited. I tensed.

Walking between the retreat room and my quarters, I asked the trees, “What do I do now?”

I heard, “Don’t sweat it.”

So I picked up my camera and went scouting instead. Never can resist a photo of tree bark:

Ponderosabark

It wasn’t until late in the weekend that a bit of clarity about the chapter began to trickle in, slowly and gently, like the light at the tips of those ponderosas.

I am grateful to our writing teachers, Sandra Dorr and Marilyn Krysl, for their exquisite readings and their enthusiasm for each person’s work; and to Suzi, our yoga teacher, for core-strength exercises fit for a football team and for a warm herbal foot bath and massage that left my feet tingling in minty pleasure.

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