Death, Nature, Revelations: Writing Retreat Leaves Eclectic Trail of Memories

June 6, 2011
Death. We talked about death. We read about death. We wrote about death. We cried about death.

Illness, addiction, disability. We learned to poke fun at our own weaknesses. We learned to treat others’ illnesses, addictions, and disabilities with respect and love. We laughed. Again, we wiped tears from our eyes.

Nature. We walked down a road in pitch blackness and looked up. Stars, so many stars in a rural western Massachusetts sky. We dodged roots and stepped over muddy leaves shortly after dawn in the paths surrounding the Rowe Camp and Conference Center, the site of The Sun Magazine’s weekend retreat. We breathed in the clean air. We swore at the mosquitoes. The blood-sucking bugs nipped at our legs, feet, and hands. We hurried back to the paved road, grabbed our notebooks, and got ready to learn and to write some more.

Circle time. Feeling like we were 10 again at summer camp, we clasped hands and sang for our supper. Some of us looked down. Some of us smiled. Some of us shrugged and tried to shake off our discomfort at an unfamiliar ritual – singing a song of blessing before each meal. We were 80 strangers, struggling to make harmony through song and ultimately through words.

Revelations. Most of us strangers, we wrote on command in response to just a word or two. That’sThe Sun Magazine way. Each month, it features 20 to 25 short essays called Readers Write. Readers of any writing background fashion an essay around a short prompt. We got plenty of practice this weekend. Heat. Best Feeling in the World. Death. What happened was

What happened was that even the shiest among us managed to bare a sliver of our souls. What happened was I was given this prompt and I wrote the bulk of this musing yesterday as my weekend writing retreat ended. There is so much more I could write about this past weekend. But I will keep it short. It was what I had hoped for and more. It left me with a feeling I wish I could hold onto forever, a feeling that within any of us is the capacity to write powerful words. Words that can make a difference. Words that can make others laugh. Words that can heal.

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6 Responses to Death, Nature, Revelations: Writing Retreat Leaves Eclectic Trail of Memories

  1. Judy BF says:

    Linda–Glad you had a productive, inspiring weekend.


  2. Mark Hanks says:

    This is the core of the experience!! From a person who was there, I can say that you distilled the weekend wonderfully. Glad to have met you.

  3. Linda says:

    Thank you, and ditto. I always learn as much from the participants as I do from the teachers at writing retreats and conferences.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    That was a lovely insight into the retreat. It’s amazing what a little stillness and time away from “every day” can do! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Susan says:

    Hey, roomie! I’m glad to have shared this experience with you. I remember those stars most vividly. Also the cold air at night, the smell of the pines around our cabin, the delicious food (that admittedly, I did NOT enjoy holding hands and singing for –UGH!). The Writing About Death workshop was my favorite–it touched something essential and we were in the right environment to express it.
    Good wishes to you, Linda.

  6. Linda says:

    Hi, Susan,
    Ditto. It was a wonderful experience – to get away. Good wishes to you, too, and to Elizabeth, who also wrote int.

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