I am back from Mepkin Abbey, pleasantly tired, a bit anxious about jumping back into regular life. So, let me record some brief observations, and perhaps in later posts, I'll dive in more deeply.
--The worst part of the drive was the first part. It had been raining all night, and there was still a lot of water on the road, while it was still raining--vision disrupting water from all directions. It was also kind of foggy. I was grateful for the relative lack of traffic and happy that I'd left at 3:20 a.m., precisely so that I wouldn't have traffic issues.
--What a different landscape at the end of the trip. How I love the Cooper River! What gorgeous trees along its bank! How many interesting buildings!
--The weather was not at all what had been forecast. We had lots of rain on Saturday, but it was a pleasant experience. On Sunday and Monday morning, the area was swaddled in deep mist, but it was eerily beautiful.
--I got a lot of writing tasks done. I focused my time on typing poems into the laptop and on restructuring my poetry manuscript.
--I had gotten word in Oct. 2011 that a publisher was possibly interested, that my manuscript had made it to a final stage of judgment. And then I heard nothing, and nothing, and finally, more than a year later, rejection. I haven't been able to look at or think about that manuscript--until this week-end!
--I took out roughly 24 poems, and I added roughly 27 poems. More on all of this later.
--I have been going to Mepkin for 10 years with the same 2 friends. How wonderful to have this gift of friendship and time. We spent a lot of time taking long walks around the grounds and talking deeply.
--I have other friends in the Lowcountry and in the rest of S.C. I feel guilty about not being able to see all of them in the same way during the same trip.
--I have an idea for a different project. One of my friends wants to get back to better writing habits. I plan to create a weekly inspirational e-mail with photos from Mepkin. As I send the e-mails, I'll be collecting them into a manuscript.
--Why does it seem so much easier to write at Mepkin? There are plenty of distractions, after all: worship 6 times a day, friends nearby. Is it because I don't have to think about chores like grocery shopping, meal prep, laundry, etc.? Is it because I'm away and that focuses my brain so that I don't have a wasted trip?
--Several years ago, at Mepkin Abbey, I put together the manuscript that would become my second chapbook. I do have a superstitious belief that the work I do at Mepkin is blessed in a different way than the work that I do elsewhere.
--As I drove away yesterday morning, I turned on the news to hear that Phillip Seymour Hoffman died. I thought about how often my driving trips are marked by some kind of shocking news. Several years ago when I returned from a Create in Me retreat, I heard of the death of Osama bin Laden, and roughly a year later, when I returned from the retreat to plan that retreat, the news about the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi began to trickle in.
--It is a long car trip, but I find it so rejuvenating to return to Mepkin Abbey. I hope I can keep doing it. Let me hope even bigger: it would be nice to return more often than once a year. We shall see.
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