is a great shout of joy
waiting to be born…
So let this winter
for the new life
I must call my own.
David Whyte – from The Winter of Listening
Soon the Winter Solstice will be upon us, the darkest day marking the return of the light and lengthening days. In the past few years with less pressure to rush out the door to be at an office, I’ve come to welcome the invitation darker days bring, a “hunkering down and in.” This year especially so as I enjoy our home, feeling new with the completion of a long-awaited kitchen and bath renovation and that fresh coat of paint, all creating a comfortable feng shui flow. I can’t believe how much I’m loving cooking in our kitchen!
And I’ve just returned from my first ever writers’ retreat, held the first week of December on Whidbey Island. Hosted by my circle teacher and friend, Christina Baldwin, and circle sister “travelpoet” Kristie McLean, attending Self As Source was a long awaited gift to self. I imagined being in the Pacific Northwest in December – with its grey sodden skies, wind and rain, living among the cedars, firs and alders with owls and coyotes singing at night – would be the perfect ambiance for listening within and claiming myself, “writer. “ It did not disappoint. After several days of preparation with gentle prompts and creative activities, our thirty-six silent hours found me sitting by the window tapping out an almost complete volume of love letters, as the rain tapped continously on the glass. It was, as David Whyte writes, that “great shout of joy” inside, being born.
Now home to full weeks of deep listening to school leaders – helping them create inner space for the grief they hold for students and community whose memories of Christmas are painful; hosting the first of several leadership training circles for the staff of my local women’s shelter; tending to business matters left waiting during two quick trips to Whidbey Island; and making Christmas preparations, my love letters wait, much as our gentle Annie waits for me to rise from my desk and take her for a walk.
Each of the fourteen women in our circle realized that claiming time to write – to listen and tend to that great inside shout of joy, that new life that we must call our own – takes what we experienced in retreat – preparation, practice, discipline and allies, those who support us in doing what we know we must do, and yet…
I can’t keep those letters waiting, any more than I can keep Annie waiting.
It has me wonder:
What great inside shout of joy is waiting for you?
What new life needs the preparation, practice, discipline and allies to have you call it your own?
While not Whidbey Island in the Pacific Northwest, Strawberry Creek Lodge in the aspen parkland an hour’s drive south of Edmonton has a similar warm ambiance for hunkering down and in. There, I’ll be co-hosting Soul Spark with my friend, work mate and circle sister, Beth Sanders.
Soul Spark … An annual intimate winter retreat for ten people to step into the fire of doing the work and living the life they long for. Whether you are in your early, mid, or encore career, here you will have the time and companionship to discern what and how to move forward.
Soul Spark … Strawberry Creek Lodge, a warm log cabin with quiet sitting spaces, a cozy fireplace around which we gather each day, silent walking trails, and delicious home cooked meals.
Soul Spark … February 16-19, 2016
Soul Spark … You are welcome. Your place is waiting.
Wishing you the warm embrace of winter’s Solstice and Christmas and a new year full of promise.