It is an unheard of moment: April and I have time alone to write and kayak. Normally Hilton Head Island wouldn’t me my choice of personal retreat, but a “free” trip to accompanying my husband for a work conference was impossible to turn down. With hours to do whatever I wanted – no kids schedules and needs to dominate my thoughts – I sought out two things that restore my soul: writing and kayaking.
I sought out a guided tour through Outside Hilton Head that would get me away from the strip malls, private resorts and tourist shops. Their Outback guided tour was perfect. A boat ride across the bays out to a private island, then out on the water…
The instant I was in that boat the winter hibernation washed away. To push against the water with the paddles, to feel the waves and currents, to move into a place of freedom and contentment. I loose myself in moment, awakening a spirit within me of complete release.
I think of Queen Gertrude’s description of Ophelia letting go, a scene as a child that pulled me in. The serenity described, the details of the flowing water and embracing flowers, comes the closest to what I experience being out on the water. No noises but that of water and birds, wind and plants. No images but of oneself and what is there.
It is in that letting go that I can feel God. It is in the release of my body to the water, that my mind stills and my souls opens wide to God.
This isn’t the only time I feel God, but it is one of the moments when it always happens. The moment I sit down in the kayak and push away from land, the Spirit seems to immediately descend, embracing this tired soul.
But kayaking comes rarely into my life, even with two hanging in the garage and a few at the distant family cottage. It takes time and decent weather, both I rarely have.
So I write.
I write to open my whole self to God. It takes little time and fewer resources (just a pen and paper). I write sitting in my car when I have an extra few minutes before school is out. I write when a meeting is delayed, in the spare moments when the kids are playing happily or not yet awake in the morning, as I eat during lunch, or when keeping an eye on the kids playing outside. I even write during sermons at church – helping me go deeper into the Word and Spirit. I write whenever I can…and sometimes when I can’t, but need to.
I am pulled to write, and in writing, feel God with me.
Just as the kayak and paddle help me enter into a place of openness, so does the pen and paper. The sensation of energy from my thoughts through my body, and into a stream of ink on the page, open up so many possibilities.
Just as the water provides resistance, freedom and forgiveness, so does the spiritual practice of writing. And both take technique. For someone who has never paddled, getting into a solo kayak can be a scary proposition, and their stamina can easily wane. It is more a chore than a pleasure, and so your mind is occupied by the doing rather than the being. So too is writing with spiritual intent. Writing is often something people run from as they think they can’t write, their spelling is horrible, or they haven’t really written since their school days. Yet with just a bit of guidance, a whole hidden world opens up to them.
Seeking a deeper spiritual life? An understanding of where to go next? Guidance in general? Or just some peace? Write.
Join us on 2nd and 4th Thursdays for writing spiritually in Minnetonka, MN. You are welcome to just check us out. All welcome, no matter your language for God or your place on your unique Faith Journey. For more information: Under The Trees Free.