Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Taking the Retreat Home

I've been thinking about my spring retreats and about how my life has continued to be enriched.  This morning I was rereading a journal I kept during the week in March when I went to Mepkin Abbey and Lutheridge in the same week.  I came across this nugget, which I want to record here, in case it's useful for teachers and other types of retreat leaders.

First, some background.  We were talking about designing a retreat that would combine an exploration of meditative practices along with writing practices, specifically poetry writing.  I said that what I would want from a retreat if I’m the typical person—by which I mean I’m busy, busy, busy, but I’ve carved out time for a retreat—is that I want 3 techniques that I can take home with me. I’ve been shown the technique, we’ve practiced it together, maybe tried it one more time during the retreat time, and we have e-mails so that we can encourage each other and fine-tune from a distance. I’d like to see a contemplative expert paired up with a poetry expert.

If I’m the retreat planner, I assume that the typical retreatent won’t necessarily like all 3 techniques. In fact, I’d almost expect that one technique per person wouldn’t work—that’s why we need 3. My hope would be that two would appeal, one would actually work, and one would be the throw away—well, my hope would be that all would be fabulously useful—but the practical side of me wouldn’t be surprised if each retreatent hated at least one thing—and as long as it’s not all the same thing, we’re OK as a retreat.

I also have those retreats on the brain because one of the Mepkin participants has a poem up at the On Being blog.  Go here to read it.  She was working on the poem at the retreat.  I should go back to read what I was working on at the retreat--I have yet to return to it.

This brings me to another insight I had while I was on retreat, which I wrote about this way: 

"In our introduction sessions this morning, people talked about what brought them here. Lots of people are having trouble finding time, finding their voice, feeling free to get started—I don’t have those troubles, although I will always wish for more time.

No, I have no trouble generating drafts and even revising is often not a problem. But getting them out and to publication—that takes a concentration that I don’t always have, especially not for book length projects."

I need to start thinking more about that.  I'm deeply aware of how much time I squander during a given day--let me be more intentional through the summer and beyond about sending work out.

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