Silent Retreat - Finding a Quiet Space
I paint I sometimes get into "the zone" where everything's working,
time slips by, and I am able to paint those "sighs too deep for words".
Sometimes I forget to eat or take a break because I'm so focused on the
painting. That is the reason that I needed to work on this painting
during the Silent Retreat. A very dear friend had been diagnosed with
pancreatic cancer in August and in June I still had barely started my
project. I needed to complete my painting for Nancy before she died. I
knew it would be hard to do, the beginning of saying good bye, but I
needed to do it. So I took the photographs I needed, my paper, paint,
and brushes, and headed to Santa Barbara.
Emmanuel group met that evening chatting, finding our rooms, and eating
dinner together. Then our silence officially began. That evening in a
small library I worked on the drawing until I was satisfied. On Saturday
morning after Lauds and breakfast, I set up on a big table out on one
of the porches. Throughout the day I painted, cried, prayed, ate, and
painted some more. The rhythm of the short worship times, meals, and
Emmanuel meetings gave me the breaks I needed to work through the
painting. Lyn gave us "assignments" that entailed focusing on one sense
for a while and finding what we could discover through that one sense.
So I roamed around using that one sense then went back to painting. Even
while painting, I would still focus on that one sense every now and
then listening for the brush on the paper or the smell of flowers. No
one interrupted me but many of the Emmanuelites knew what I was working
on and I felt the support. By Sunday I was almost finished... in
the stage where I stare at the painting tweak something then walk away
for an hour before tweaking something else.
was able to deliver the painting to Nancy within a few weeks. She was
able to enjoy it for several months before she died in early December.
In late November I wrote one last letter to her knowing she was likely
dying soon and I found myself repeating what I had already said. When I
chatted with Lyn about the experience later she pointed out what a rare
thing it was... Nancy had died and I had nothing left to say to her. It
was all complete.
painting was a big part of my being able to say good bye completely.
The quiet space that I found was exactly what I needed to complete the
emotional project as well as the actual painting. The rhythm of the
weekend gave me the breaks I needed for the intense project and the
silent support I had gave me strength to complete it.
Silent Retreat will take place this year in Santa Barbara on May 20-21.
Contact Kathy Eppick for more information.