I am just now winding down after an AMAZING writer's retreat, yet gearing up for my trip to Chicago for Meadville Lombard's prospective student conference. I am trying to remain in the moment of each experience, soaking up every minute, all the while wishing they were a few weeks apart so I could savor all the more.
The weekend was full of inspiration, reflection, catching up with my old high school friend, as well as many familiar returning faces. My friend Lorie and I both turn 40 this year and celebrated at the retreat (my 5th, her first) by bringing wine, chocolate and presents.
I learned many wonderful things (of course!) as I do every single year, and have decided to devote different posts to each lesson (there's that stretching out the savoring thing again.)
So this post, I want only to focus on the most poignant part of this years retreat for me, well, likely for us all. It is a bittersweet reflection.
Sadly, one of my favorite instructors, a poet named Judi Beach, had to back out of the retreat at the last minute. She had discovered only weeks before that she had stage four liver cancer and her health rapidly declined.
She passed away yesterday.
Judi was one of the most generous writers and instructors I have ever known, and my only regret is that I didn't get to know her better over the years. She was such an amazing instructor that she was requested to return every year. You may read more about her on her website, which I discovered has not been updated yet. I found this to be completely poetic, as I still feel such energy from Judi I doubt she will ever feel gone to me. I almost feel like sending out an email to her and that, wherever she is, she will receive it and smile.
Here is one of my favorite poems of Judi's-
From...How far Light must Travel
Sun comes in where it can, secure in its welcome.
The moon, too, trails through the house.
And if the sun or moon is not available,
we find comfort in the incandescence of lamps.
We take advantage of every bright source
to place our paintings and art, our photos of loved ones.
Houseplants collaborate for light from a single window.
We are never without it even on nights of no moon.
When the wind has blown electricity into the next county,
we reach for flashlight or candle, praise the domestication of fire.
In the presence of light, whatever the source, we do not feel alone.
There are times when we forget we can see in shadow
and times the heart's darkness forgets the sun is waiting to get in.
But even the blind know that light brings warmth.
A cold rock resting in a ribcage will find heat and beat again.
Ironically, the Jackie Greene song that is playing on this post, was the one I chose to use last week because of it's opening line, "I've been thinkin' bout some women." I thought that was a perfect song to accompany my retreat post. I had no idea at the time that Judy was ill.
I forgot it was on here today, until I was finished with the first draft of the post and tested it out. As I listen only one word came to mind- apropos. Please send loving thoughts to Judi's family as you listen to the whole song.
As I keep in mind the positive direction I'm headed on my own journeys this week, I am choosing to reflect on Judi's light. That amazing bright aura surrounded her and enveloped everyone she met. I will follow it as a beacon in the dark this week, toward my future bright and full of reflection.
Peace, love, and red wine