Through the Fire
I took some time away this last weekend and went on a writing retreat. Not far, and not a total retreat as I came home every night and slept in my own bed. I did keep my time at home simple and quiet. At the retreat, we did a great combination of group writing exercises, pulling out writing from our subconscious mind, working on our own projects, and reading and sharing feedback with fellow participants. It was a lot! There was laughing and crying, there was furious scribbling, and many aha! moments for all. All led by our fabulous fearless teacher, Andy Couturier, whom you can find more about here.
One of our exercises was about writing in Nature, how that will open us. We wrote for a while inside, then went outside and connected with a natural object of our choice. We then focused on it, observed it for 5 minutes. Then we wrote for 5 minutes, a “free write”, what ever came up/out/forth. When that time was up, we focused on the object again, merging with it, going inside it, seeing the world from its perspective, again for 5 minutes, then we wrote some more. We spent 5 more minutes with the object, just letting our mind be open, connecting with the unknown. Again, we wrote for 5 more minutes. Then, we returned inside to work some more on the original piece of writing.
It was such a powerful experience for me, I feel compelled to share it with you. I am learning more and more about writing, more and more about myself through my writing. I’m truly seeing what a powerful tool writing is. This exercise was powerful in that it flowed so easily. I admit I had lots of hesitations about this retreat – maybe it was going to be, probably it was going to be too much woo woo kind of stuff. Maybe I’d be shy and not want to participate in things. Etc. Etc. Etc. So those things didn’t happen and I loved this exercise. It appealed to my shamanic view of things so there was a certain comfort there but I impressed myself with what came forth. I got some beautiful feedback about it also. There’s another powerful lesson. Feedback. It’s easy to “just” say thanks and not even really hear it. I’m learning to really take it in deeply and let it empower me. We have a process of giving positive feedback unless the person asks for what we didn’t like, or some such thing. We share the words with which we resonate, and how the piece made us feel.
I was drawn to the lichen on the trees by the driveway at the retreat house. Here is what I learned. I am tempted to do my usual thing of going to Wikipedia, find some quotes, etc. and shower you with info about lichen but because the writing exercise was so powerful and pure, I am not. Feel free to do that, though, if you’d like.
Lichen # 1
I love this color green of the lichen on the tree, soft, paler than the green of the leaves. This is the color I wish my house was instead of minty. It has cracks and folds and pieces spiraling out. What purpose does it have ? Does it have one or is it just being? I has the look of possibly being a disease but I know that it is not. Does it feel ? Why has it chosen this place on this tree ? How did it get here ?
I touch it. It is not soft. and is very firmly attached to the bark of the tree. There is a lot of it.
I know it is used by some as medicine but I don’t remember more than that. As a tea, I think. Lichen tea. I’ve been lichen tea for many years. I wonder what it tastes like.
If I were lichen, I’d prefer to be deeper in the forest, not right by the driveway. Maybe I wouldn’t have a choice.
LIving here in the dappled sun, I am warming up. I am content to just be. I feel secure. I play with art as I grow and fold and turn and spiral. I wrap around my branches, my twigs, my tree limbs, my tree. My home. Some parts of me are smooth as I rest from my art work play dance in the dappled sun I create beauty. I have no brain but I use mathematics to create my shape. It is not random. It is not chaos. This is my language. This is my medicine. I prefer the branches that are dead. They comfort me until they rot. Then we both make that trip into the next world, as we drop to the ground and become one with our mother, the Earth. She will embrace me and feed upon me. I will support her dreaming through the winter and the life she gives birth to in the spring.
I grow slowly. I am in no hurry here. There is your bell. Please come back and yes, you can take my picture.
Now I am curious. I could go look you up on the internet, get lots of science, facts and stories. I could sit here all day and meditate with you,listen more to you.
I will choose today to not know, to leave my questions unanswered. I will appreciate the mystery of you. I will simply be in awe of your beauty, of your gifts and talents. I will breathe in the green, the healing. and not need to know why.
I came home from the retreat with grist for the mill, with material for the book I’m writing, and some really good blog post ideas. I’ll see you again soon with more thoughts.