The basic schedule of this retreat, (on the days we aren’t heading out on a major outing) is writing group in the morning, free time all afternoon between lunch and dinner, and writing class in the evening. Open afternoons are important—they give people time to digest, to integrate, to spend time alone, to enjoy new friends, to catch up on sleep, to hike, to explore, to walk to town, to sightsee, to shop, to have adventures alone, or of course, to write. Downtime is crucial because writing class can be intense, evocative, and at times, exhausting.
(Dear Readers: This is another high-density post with lots of photos. You may need to let it load for a while before you come back and read it--Laura). Today was one of the "Seeing Scotland" days on our trip. Our first stop was Clava Cairns, a Bronze Age, 4000-year-old archeological site with burial cairns and ancient standing stones. As our bus approached the last bridge before the parking lot, we came upon this sign, which was immediately worrisome to those of us who had been pigging out on Newbold House's home-baked bread, fresh butter, and homemade jam.[Continue Reading]
Every morning at 7:35 AM, there is meditation up in the sanctuary at Newbold House. It’s for the residents of the house, but as guests, we are all invited. After the meditation is a half hour of Taize singing—devotional singing from around the world, sung in four-part harmony. I showed up for meditation and singing one of the first mornings I was here. Five of us sat on maroon meditation cushions in silence. After half an hour, Christopher rang a gong, ending the meditation, then opened a little cupboard and handed out a set of small songbooks. We sang four simple songs in Latin, Italian and English. I can’t sight-read, but I like to sing, so I did my best to follow along. Even though I couldn’t hit most of the notes or pronounce the words, I loved being part of the lifting of ... [Continue Reading]
(Note to readers: This post has a LOT of pictures. Let it load for a while and then come back to read it.) Since I knew we were scheduled to go on an outing today—to the Nairn Highland Games—I gave this homework at the end of writing class this morning:
“Find out something specific about Scottish culture—how a tradition began, why people wear tartans, how Scots feel about their bagpipes, where kilts come from, what haggis is,” I told them. “Choose something you are personally curious about and talk to local people at the Games to find your answers. Take notes in your little notebook and we’ll work with your raw material in class this evening.”Some people opted to do other things, but a group of us took the bus to Nairn before lunch, and had the whole ... [Continue Reading]