Seven years ago, I snapped the photo above and sent it out to a few people with my fingers crossed. I was inviting them into the wild woods of New Hampshire for an alternative arts retreat. It was my best effort to explain what the idea in my head looked like. When you are inviting people to join you on something you’ve never done something before, you are depending on their imagination and sense of adventure.
But still, I didn’t have high hopes– it’s one thing to live in crazy town, it’s another thing entirely to think anyone wants to visit you there. Because seriously, who would say yes to something like that?
Turns out people with imagination,
bright spirit and an open heart full of curiosity.
We had 12 teachers that year and 135 attendees. What I did not have was a vision of where this would grow– where we were headed– there was no destination, as it were. All I had was a feeling, a vision — a direction, as it were.
photo credit: TORY WILLIAMS
Flash forward to last year: above is an early morning photograph (note the slippers!) that Tory took of me greeting the day — what a world of difference since the beginning of these retreats.
So much change, so much growth. So many connections. So many creative projects, books, films, publications, career changes, gatherings and friendships have been launched from these weekends.
I was reminded of this yesterday as I began packing up to head north to the lake and happened to re-read a blog post that captures exactly this magic that can’t be expressed — it can only be experienced.
photo courtesy of KAT SWEENEY
Lizzy House taught at our very first June gathering and a few years later, she reflected on all that grew out of those five days. (I have excerpted a bit from her post below)
“Thoughts about Squam regularly cross my mind
when I am traveling somewhere to teach,
and as I just got home from the most incredible
2 weeks with my dear dear friends in Toronto,
I want to take moments to trace the roots
of the blessings in my life.”
photo credit: KIMM BRANCH
“What it really comes down to is this. I will be grateful for the rest of my days to Elizabeth, even if I never see Squam again. Grateful for her vision, grateful for taking a chance, and grateful for opening a door that would somehow lead to so much of the rest of my life.
The people that I met and worked with and now so thoroughly love and call on for constant support are people that have come into my life as a direct result of a weekend on a Lake.
Also, I just want to say, that maybe I would have met
these people another way, that somehow we all would
have come together in whatever way, because we were
supposed to. Or that my hard work and merit would have
positioned me for all of this good, but I do not believe
that that’s how the world works, otherwise we’d all live
on islands that were having parades in our own honor everyday.
And I don’t want dwell on any of that, because I know this was the way we were supposed to be together.
Thank you, Elizabeth. The debt is mine.”
photo credit: EILEEN NISHI
Um, no. Nope. It is me most beholden. For certain. For always. Most definitely.
And now, I am off– heading north with absolutely no idea what this weekend will bring except that I know I will joyfully meet new people, happily greet old friends and try to stay present as the mojo swirls.
Wherever you are– I wish you a beautiful beginning to this month of June 2014!