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August 13, 2006

Writing and Healing Idea #1: Designing a Healing Retreat

Imagine for a moment that you go to your mailbox.  You find there an envelope—a small white square.  You open the envelope to find this card:


A sheet of paper accompanying the card offers details: 

For six weeks, it has become possible for all of your ordinary routines and responsibilities to be suspended.  Work schedules have been rearranged.  Children will be safe and well-cared for.  Any appointments (or medical treatments) have been rescheduled such that they will not interfere.  In fact, any and all obstacles standing in the way of this retreat have been removed.  In addition, your house or apartment will be cared for in your absence.  Plants will be watered.  Floors swept.  The refrigerator cleaned out.  Your task, now, is simply to design—in writing—or perhaps with drawings—this retreat. 

In order to design this retreat you may find yourself needing to suspend disbelief.  (Someone is really going to clean out my refrigerator for me?)  Go ahead.  Suspend.  Once you’ve done so you may find the following questions useful in designing your retreat:

Where would you like the retreat to take place?
What weather do you like?
What kind of light?
What resources would you like available close by?
Walking trails?
A piano?
A swimming pool?
A lake?
What kind of accommodations do you prefer?
Will the place have a porch? 
A window?
Would you like to be alone in this place?
Or do you prefer company?
And what kind of company?
Do you prefer quiet?
Or noise?
What sounds do you imagine in this place?
What about smells?
What does the sky look like in this place?
How does the air feel?
Where will you sit?
Where will you sleep?
What will you eat?
How will the refrigerator be stocked?
Who will prepare your food?
What would you like to do on the first day?
On a typical day?
Is there anything else that’s important to the design of this retreat?
What else?

[Please note that the seed for this invitation to design a healing retreat comes from a short chapter in Deena Metzger’s book, Writing for Your Life.  The chapter, entitled, “Setting Up a Retreat,” can be found on p. 81. ]