Lights at Commonweal

Writing as a Pathway: Sacred Time

We’ve entered the most sacred time of the retreat, what I like to call “the heart of the retreat.” It’s the time when people are open and connected to whatever it is they need to write about, and those stories are being written. There is a tenderness and vulnerability in the air and the whole community there to hold anyone who might fall.

It’s a sweet time, and as a teacher, it’s the time I start to take my lead from my students instead of the other way around. There’s not much I can share with you about this time here except to say it is the heart of this retreat and everyone here has earned the breakthroughs they are having and the insights they are gleaning through willingness and open-hearted hard work.

As I sit in the living room, waiting for dinner (ah, dinner!) I can look around at my writers—resting, stretching, talking, reading, writing, connecting. And I love what we have become—a living, breathing community. This is the part of my work I love best.

Here’s a poem to leave you with:

by Dorothy Walters

First, you must let your heart
be broken open
in a way you have never
felt before,
cannot imagine.

You will
not know if what you are
is anguish or joy,
something predestined
or merely old wounds
flowing once more,
reminders of all that is
unfinished in your life.

Something will flood into
your chest
like air sweetened by
desert honeysuckle,
love that is too

You will stand there,
very still,
not seeing what this is.
Later, you will not remember
any of this
until the next time
when you will say,
yes, yes, I have known this before,
it has come again,
just as your eyes fold under
once more.

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