I have seen it happen over and over again – the deep connections made when artists “retreat” from the demands of daily existence to a place of natural beauty and serenity. From the first gathering – the opening reception - artists find commonalities and meaningful exchange. A thread begins to weave through what is forming as a “community” of artists. We all come with different expectations, that soon to melt away, and pure joy instead takes root. How does this transformation begin to take place so quickly, I ask? Through the years of organizing and facilitating artist retreats with workshops or open studio, I believe I have some idea.
Today’s culture is a steady diet of stress; our demanding jobs, our over connectedness to technology, the sheer weight of keeping up with emails alone, add to this short list the constant borage of negative news assaulting us wherever we go - even when we simply want to read a book while waiting for some appointment. We starve for solace, peace and a measure of playfulness.
During the Retreats, I offer morning mindfulness sessions, that begin and end with a poem selected for that day. On the first morning, after everyone has had a night to sleep in a cabin without internet or cell service and has awakened to the sound of the breeze rustling though the leaves, or the sound of Canadian Geese calling in their flight over the lake, I always read the following poem by Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things”
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
We all get it and it helps us to sink into the blessing of time set apart to be creative, to reflect, to smile and laugh, to be at peace.
If you would like to share in this experience, there is an upcoming Retreat at Beautiful Lake Logan Conference Center, Canton, North Carolina, October 25 - 30 - workshop with Alice Ballard and Open Studio - spaces are still open, (click here for all the detais)