Thursday, February 4, 2010

* Some Concluding Thoughts on the Retreat *

*Note: When I began writing this, it was still Wednesday, so I kept my promise! *Okay, as promised, I'm going to try to put into words just how much this past weekend meant to me. It pains me, as a writer, to say "try to put into words". How can that be? How can I have such trouble putting all my various thoughts and feelings into words? I guess because it had such a profound effect on me. Sometimes those kind of events stir up my emotions into a fury and I can't get them out fast enough. Other times, it may take weeks, months, even years for my mind to wander through the maze of information and feelings, and reveal them.

I've been to writers' conferences before, both large and small. I've learned quite a bit about writing and met a new friend or two. I've also attended "religious" retreats, but those were many years ago, during my youth. Sometimes, I would leave feeling somewhat enlightened, for a while at least.

But, to combine a writers workshop along with a spiritual awakening program, limited to 30 women participants, was pure genius. The title was: Coming Home: Writing from the Soul. A Winter Retreat for Women. We learned how to write to express our inner self. We laughed. We wept. We sang. We danced. We made some life long friendships.

This was the first time Mary Kay Shanley and Joyce Rupp combined their talents, to host a presentation together. It was magical & powerful. We learned about Free Writing and Reflective Writing: Both were new terms to me and I learned so much in those brief discussions. A couple of things from our Saturday assignment:
"Reflective writing falls somewhere between learning and thinking. We reflect so we can learn. We learn as a result of reflecting."
"Reflective writing takes us to our inner self, to the heart of us, to our soul. "

I was amazed at some of the personal thoughts & experiences we all shared. I reminded myself to be more aware of others, and their actions and personalities. For some reason, too, I was surprised to learn that many of the women were teachers in various ways; full time, part-time, retired, some only taught creative writing, etc. Some were business women with high powered jobs, others were stay at home moms.The age group was what I had expected: 30's to 60+.  When looking at and speaking with these women, age didn't come into any thought or consideration. We were all just interested in learning about ourselves and each other.

May Kay Shanley is a fantastic writer & teacher. She is the author of 9 books. She has a wonderful sense of humor and had us laughing most of the time, except when she handed out our nightly assignments! (just kidding!) Check out her website for other upcoming workshops and classes.

Joyce Rupp, although a member of the Servite Sisters, is nothing like any nun I've ever known! She has studied just about every religion, visited just about every country, gives conferences and retreats both nationally and internationally and is the author of 20 books. Not too long ago, she "walked the Camino in Spain". That is something worth looking up and reading about. (*This woman is in her late 60's. If I remember correctly, she said she gave herself that gift for her 60th birthday.)

The writing and the spiritual awakening fit together perfectly. There was great balance between the two, and the spriritual part was just that: spiritual. It wasn't religious. What the entire weekend was......was perfect!

Left photo: Jackie and Shirley. Right photo: Kathy.

"It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else." --Erma Bombeck