Friday morning, 7/12: Sky Meadow Retreat, Stannard, VT
It’s such fun to watch women fan out, explore, discover for themselves what I have myself over the years: the pond, its magic that calms, draws us forward and out; the stillness of its surface and the depth of its pull to silence. I feel the energy of the group, of individuals, slowing and centering. I am filled with the peace of this place, and the sweetness with which Cella and her three girls tend to the abundant, delicious and completely nurturing meals – their attention to special requests, especially in this case to GF and dairy-free meals – all provided with smiles and deep caring. Peace settles among and through us. We have all become gifts of this time, this place.
What contrast to last night’s boisterous engagement at Girls’ Café as we sat around the table sharing of ourselves deeply – a community barely three hours in the making already communing like old friends, conversation, laughter and silent deep listening alternating like ripples in the nearby pond, lapping and overlapping and ultimately, completely still.
How little it takes to create such magic: time, space, intention. Intention on the part of our host family – I love listening to Miles offer gentle instruction to daughters and interns alike, his voice measured, soothing, instructive, ever sure and calm – and their dedication to living simply, purely; how that soothes us all and brings us to a common core of awareness. Self and the land. What else matters??
And of course intention on the part of each retreatant; to be present, to soak up and in; to become for these days alive and involved in the cycles of each hour, each moment. To be. Silent morning punctuated by the braying of three black sheep; the cackle of hens disrupted from their morning quiet by a veritable stampede of said sheep heading for the henhouse seeking what scraps may appeal; the alpaca in turns bemused at our presence and amusing in his antics – rolling in the long grass like a puppy after swimming, then lying absolutely still in post-breakfast stupor while the sheep nudge over and around him seeking that one perfect, sweet blade.
Nurture, all of it. Gifts too numerous to list and yet, filling us each and all with wonder, gratitude, presence. This is a Women Writing for (a) Change retreat. This is about time to mirror and reflect back to one another, to our own selves, what is. This is.
“Draft a post with three parts, each unrelated to the other, but create a common thread between them by including the same item — an object, a symbol, a place — in each part.” – Today’s DP Challenge
I am due to report on the results of using a contact form to get readers’ opinions about cairns – their artistic, functional and expressive functions. The short summary of what I learned is that their ephemeral nature is what makes them beautiful. They can be reassembled to suit the moment’s mood.
Weekly I lead a circle of women in prison writing their lives – for better, for worse, for creativity, for healing. Their piles of words express where these women have been and where they are headed. They speak to the moment’s mood. Their words can be reassembled, as I do each week by rearranging lines of writing into one united poem. This ‘found poem’ takes on a wholly new meaning from its respective referred-to-parts. The authors delight in the challenge to see where I will take the collective meaning of disparate and unrelated phrases and feelings from one week to the next.
Last night, I was treated to a surprise reunion dinner in honor of my return to my writing roots among Women Writing for (a) Change writers in its hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. A third of our original Wednesday writing group from 20 years back reassembled itself around a corner table at a local Italian restaurant. As I surveyed the glowing and ageless faces of these women I love like sisters, women who are a part of me, I felt layers of years and shared experience pile higher and higher. A monumental stack of worded moments, laughter, meals, losses and dreams as testimony to our coming-of-age as a community of becoming-conscious women. Though on separate journeys, we remain joined by our shared passion for words. One moment, one mood, one meeting at a time.
It has been my intention to post something each Friday relating to the conscious feminine. My introduction to that concept – as a practice in paradoxical living, as a path to claiming my own feminine nature, as a parental model for child-bearing – started two decades back with Women Writing for (a) Change. It seems fitting to devote today’s post to this incredible entity on her 21st birthday.
In a letter just-penned to my writing sisters, I wrote: “Tomorrow you all will gather to celebrate the maturity of Women Writing for (a) Change, without which I can no more imagine my life than without my children.
We each have our own story of how we came to be part of this sisterhood; what it has meant to our individual journey; how it has impacted the lives with which we intersect and interact; where we are with it now in our own life. I imagine you all sharing some of these stories as you gather in Cincinnati tomorrow to celebrate the coming –of – age of the unfolded and manifested vision-turned-movement that started with Mary Pierce Brosmer; and has evolved into recognizable offspring across the country. Continue reading
Check out the 4/25/12 book review of Women on Poetry by Story Circle Book Reviews. It names my chapter!
“Women Writing for (a) Change: History, Philosophy, Programs” is a fascinating essay by Sarah W. Bartlett who is an owner of one of the affiliates of this empowering program in Vermont.”