I’ve never been to France. I’ve never seen the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame. But I have been to Holy Hill, Wisconsin where there is a cathedral of sorts I remember the first time I was there. I was stunned. It was like stepping back into time. A hush descends. The art is illuminated. The scents are intoxicating. The echoes mesmerizing. It’s magic. When art collides in function and form, when we imbue it with meaning, when we decorate it for beauty — this, this is when we are most human. I mourn Notre Dame. I’ve never seen it and now i never will. If Holy Hill gobsmacked me, I imagine Notre Dame would have rendered me speechless for years.
This weekend I went to my first writing retreat ever. I’m an addict now! The retreat was held at the Hindman Settlement School in Hindman, Kentucky. I met a fellow writing group member and a Facebook friend there. I’m not adverse to walking into groups where I know no one but it was nice to have a friends in attendance.
If you write and if you have never been to a retreat, you owe it to yourself. I am renewed, reinvigorated and re-examining my writing life.
I have a million reasons not to write. It’s time for that to come to an end. I enjoy it. I possess some talent and it’s a crime that I’m not doing what I want to do for all sorts of nonsensical reasons. So here I am. Blogging. Get used to it.
The retreat was led by Dana Wildsmith who can be found here. We had read-arounds and group discussions followed by a one-on-one with Dana. She worked with me on my one and only poem that I’ve written as an adult. (That dreck one writes as a teenager doesn’t count.)
I wrote this poem at last year’s Allegheny Echoes. Allegheny Echoes is a fabulous event focused on old-time music but also offering a writing track. Kirk Judd led it and insisted I could write a poem. And I did. But I don’t have the tools to evaluate it, so Dana’s help with shaping and clarifying it was invaluable.
The retreat, for me, was the proverbial kick in the pants that I’ve needed for a long time. Not only am I motivated to write, but I am motivated to garden. These two things I’ve struggled with for the past several years. I don’t know if it was part of the grieving process for me to not garden and to not write, or what, but I haven’t been. Both activities are ones that caused my very soul to sing and I’ve been mystified as to why I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do them.
The magnolia in the photo was taken at the Hindman Settlement School. The grounds were nicely landscaped and I wandered around one afternoon with a camera, but didn’t take too many pictures. I was busy writing. As it should be.