Writing Retreat Weekend, Day 1

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Day 1 is really one session in the evening. We arrive after we have our own dinners, get our name tags, meet the retreat director, and get our first prompt: tenderness.

I have finally accepted the free-writing, stream of consciousness form as my go-to for a first draft. I’ve only been doing it for about three years; it’s about time I got used to it.

I spent twenty minutes writing about my daughter and pajamas and shopping in Target. I will share another time how that adds up to tenderness.

All of our prompts will be based on what M has written on the white board:

What is Christmas?

It is tenderness for the past
courage for the present
hope for the future
and that every path may lead to peace.

-Agnes M. Pharo

The Scripture read  in regards to this prompt was of the Visitation when pregnant Mary visits her pregnant cousin Elizabeth. Remember that Elizabeth is the mother of John the Baptist.

We are in a Dominican Retreat House, so there is definitely a spiritual tone to everything we do this weekend. To be honest, spirituality and writing are the two things that can be brought to anything else; to everything else.

I’m going to retire early – the rising bell rings at 7:45 in the morning. I’ve also want to get back to the First Book of the Macabees, which I’ve been reading today (it is Chanukah after all), and I’d like to finish it. I’m also in the middle of an historical account of four women soldiers/spies during the Civil War as well.

I’m not relaxed per se, but I’m also not thinking about what I need to do between now and Christmas Eve. I think I’ve got it handled. And if I don’t my elves at home will be happy to help me. I have confidence in them.

Tomorrow brings French toast for breakfast, two writing sessions, a walk around the grounds and Mass. There is a cross with a bench for meditation that I’d like to sit by with my journal. I also have my sketchbook and my colored pencils, so I may foray into a little drawing.

I’m alone on this side of the building, but I’m muddling through the anxiety. It’s a lovely room. It reminds me of the hostel in Manchester, England that I stayed at without the underlying prison cell feel. This room actually feels much more comfortable. There’s a bed, a gold upholstered chair that rocks – it reminds me of my Aunt Goldie’s house. There is also a desk and adjacent to the closet is a sink with towels and a mirror. Plenty of light and a Bible round out the place.

I feel good about this retreat weekend.

Last Night

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Frying chicken in (peanut) oil.

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Fried chicken tenders

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Frying latkes (potato pancakes) in oil

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My dinner: fried chicken tenders, latkes, applesauce, and sour cream.

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At the table with the menorah

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There is something amazing that feeds my soul about the taste of applesauce mixed with sour cream on the crispy on the outside, soft on the inside latke

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Dreidl and gelt