Day: June 12, 2013

Arriving at Woodthrush Woods

We pulled onto the long driveway at 2:30 am. Darkness filled the spaces between the trees an the headlights only illuminated a few feet ahead of us on the pavement. Yet some part of my brain rejoiced. Ah yes. This place. This is a really good place. So we drove up the pavement where I ran laps last fall. We pulled up to the house and I knew what I would find inside. I knew the paths through the woods to the creek, though walking them would need to wait for daylight. The peace of this place spoke to me again.

When I came to Woodthrush Woods last fall, I hoped to write, to see cardinals, and to see fireflies. Instead I laid the groundwork for later writing, there were no fireflies, and I spied one lone cardinal. That flying red bird was like a promise, things will be better though they’re stressful now. I believed that bird and took the memory of it home with me. Since I pulled myself out of bed this morning, I’ve seen three cardinals. They flicker bright red through the trees. I’m told that fireflies are everywhere in the evening. My visit here feels like a pattern completed, like I had to come back to complete things that I only began last September.

My first day here has been full of organizational tasks. That is my role, to facilitate everything else that goes on. Yet I took ten minutes to walk the loop through the forest to the creek and back. I wanted to feel the springtime forest, full of growth and compare it to my memory of the fall forest, which was settling in for the winter. It was a quick glance. I’ll wander and think again later, perhaps in the evening when I might spy fireflies.

This is a good place and I’m going to have a good visit.


My flight was delayed, and delayed again, and thrice delayed. The first two delays came before I left for the airport, so I waited an extra two hours at home. It was a strange mental space that waiting. I’d already settled the kids for my absence. It would have made sense to use the time for extra work, but I had packed away all of my work thoughts. They were folded neatly to wait until I returned from my trip. I did not want to open them up. It would have made sense to begin unfolding my writer thoughts, to start musing on story elements and what I would write during the retreat. Yet somehow my brain would not do that either. It was as if that cupboard had a time release lock which would not open until after I had boarded the plane. Besides, my laptop was packed already. So I waited, opening myself to the sensation of waiting, pondering those Dr. Seuss verses about The Waiting Place, and swinging in a hammock, because hammocks invite one to be present in now rather than rushing toward something else. Eventually I opened the book which was supposed to be my in-flight reading. I read while I waited.

Life frequently offers us pauses, places of waiting because we can’t move forward in the ways that we want or expect. I do not like them, they feel like time wasted. I get grouchy when I have to wait for my computer to restart, or the light to change, or someone to respond to a query, let alone an additional three hour wait to board a plane. These imposed waits feel like time stolen from me. I had to wait hours until the airline was prepared to take me to my destination. Even boarding the plane was the end of one wait only to begin another one. I thought about waiting as I drove to the airport, because I expected eight hours of traveling and during most of it my job was to wait patiently. I wished that I could skip the travels and just arrive. But then I remembered my last retreat and the way that the journey quieted my thoughts, slowed me down, and let me begin to shift my thinking into a different gear. Sometimes an imposed wait can be a gift, though often I don’t see that gift until later when I see the fruits of it. Waiting changes me, particularly when I accept and embrace it.

I could spend all my life rushing toward destinations and being frustrated by everything in between. Instead I need to remember the times spent swinging gently in a hammock swing, when waiting becomes its own reward.