Saturday, February 5, 2011

What would your personal retreat look like?

I'm lucky.  This week I took a few days away at Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat center near Philadelphia.  I have about an hour before lunch, then it's back to real life.

But hey, dummy this is real life!!
Some things I've gotten from my time here (in no order, with no particular evaluation of relevance):

a) I'm not ready to become a vegetarian.
b) Realizing I need to change my relationship to the computer. I feel tyrannized by it.
c) Reading a pretty amazing book on the history of the relationship between Quakers and African Americans.
d) Realizing that my reading life is too driven by what I think I ought to read, rather than what I love. As if I could ever catch up!
e) Spent a fruitful afternoon at the Quaker Collection in the library at Haverford College. Read the original letters that my grandfather wrote home from France ca. 1918.  Writing-wise, something's cookin', but I can't say what.  Because I don't know yet.  They have a roomful of fiction either by Quakers or about them. The room isn't very big. 
f) Not-Doing is important. 
g) Grateful I could hang out for a few hours with my friend Wol.

This retreat was a success because my perspective has shifted a bit.  I didn't come in with any goals, but life is all around us, always changing. 

If you could take a personal retreat, where would you go?  What would it consist of?  Would you take a computer?  Would you let yourself take naps?   Chime in!


James Nave said...

There's a place called The Hill That Breathes in Italy. I want to spend a week there. Might not get that poetry book written, but I suspect I'll take that long afternoon nap. Perhaps, I'll even see a bird, a colorful one, with an odd song, tripping across a spider's back.

Rich Sidney said...

Shortly after I married Sandra, I spent two weeks at a meditation retreat in the Arizona High Desert. In July, no less.

It was wonderful. The heat during the day. The quiet meditations morning and evening. The walk to the top of the hill to the Anasazi holy site.

I'd go again in a heartbeat.

joannagnp said...

I have the opportunity to take personal retreats at our favorite place on earth.....west falmouth. Given the trailer at the campground, it is easy and cost effective. I love to go there in the late spring and early fall when there are few people. I do bring the computer. I do take naps and do whatever I want to do. If I am alone, I have lots of time to think and do my writing...the dissertation.
Love you Helen.

Catherine Stine said...

Hey, I just came back from someone's very pork-ish dinner at Momofuko (spelling??) After that, I'm so ready to become a vegetarian.
Seriously? Falmouth rocks. Um, I'd like to go to the writing retreat in Big Sur for the view! I've been to Squaw Valley and got a lot out of it--high level speakers such as Amy Tan. But maybe a place like Yaddo would be good, because I don't need too many talk-talk forums, I mostly need a lot of undisturbed writing time, followed by some rowdy and intellectual company.
Pendle Hill is a great place. I'm glad that you got a lot out of it. Some of your grandfather's letters are there? How thrilling!
Yes, it is good to get far away from the computer, at least for freewrites, and bits and pieces of first drafts.

HelenQP said...

All of these sound wonderful. The common threads seem to be nature, creative work, and release from "shoulds." Oh, and naps. (when I'm in west falmouth and take naps, certain people tend to interrupt me..!!)

Nave, nice little poem you've got going there. You might not need to go to Italy after all. The Hill That Breathes looks like a really cool place. Creative book title on the spiritual guide, too!

joannagnp said...

Now who would it be that interrupts your naps? Naps should be sacred. Love you!