Monday, August 04, 2008

LL and Lauren (But not Jim) at Laity Lodge

Canyon Rock

Last week I went to Texas. For the very first time in my life. It was... beautiful. I went to Laity Lodge for a retreat. To hear Lauren Winner and Tod Bolsinger. Wow. (Photo of Lauren and I below. Do you dig that tattoo she got when she was only 15 years old?)

LL and Lauren

When I stepped out of the shuttle, onto the Laity grounds, the first thing I noticed was the weight of the sun. It seemed it might press me into the copper colored gravel. The second thing I noticed was the silence. It too had a weight. Like a silken blanket on my skin and over my senses. I was utterly taken.

The week before I went to Laity, I discovered that Jim Martin was going to be there too. From Monday to Wednesday. I was coming Thursday to Sunday. Sigh. But we decided to both write a piece on some stone stairs I thought I'd seen in a picture of Laity. We would post our respective pieces. (Rumor has it that Marcus Goodyear might also post such a piece.) I don't know if I found the right stairs. But here they are...

LL on Laity steps

And here is the little piece I composed...

Morning, the last day. A stillness here. I witness canyon walls... striated grey, cream, mountain-Laurel flecked. Everywhere, things clinging to edges... yucca, purple-budded prickly pear, cedars in miniature. Water flows, ripples, catches new light. I close my eyes, hear the ascending and descending of a bird's 'too, too, too, too, too, too.' The air is barely tinged with chalky earthen fragrance. I witness all this through senses open, full, longing. Or does it witness me... morning, the last day, clinging to this edge?


Tod Bolsinger's Basking and Connecting at Laity Lodge

Marcus Goodyear's Rush Out to Nature, Rush Back to Work

Jim Martin's Days at the Quiet House

A prayer inspired by the canyon, the birds... Hand, at LL's Love Notes to Yahweh


Why I Became a Vegetarian, at TCW Magazine


Ted's book club post Forest Star: Humility

Laity Lodge photos by L.L. Barkat.

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Blogger Christianne said...

Ooooh! You met Lauren Winner! I remember my own glorious meeting with her last year. So special. Looks like she's driving with you in your car? Lucky girl, she is. :)

10:03 AM  
Anonymous heather said...

I thought you meant write a message on the rocks. Literally. That would've been fun, too, I think. Leave messages for each other.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

Oh dear. I guess I better dig through my journals for something I've written at Laity Lodge.

Funny. You know, Wordsworth says poetry is emotion recollected in tranquility. He visited Tintern Abbey, then wrote a wonderful poem about it.

You, on the other hand, experienced the tranquility and the act of poetic composition at the same time. Then you recollected emotion in the form of this blog post.

12:57 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...



1:10 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

You met her? Not fair. ;) Sounds like a gorgeous time, though.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Ann Kroeker said...'ve switched from shoe-shots to *hands*. So very personal and more intimate than feet. More personality, too.

Never been to Texas...but I feel like I've been to a tiny portion of it, the parts for which you've offered these photos and word pictures.

Thanks for taking me down those steps.

(p.s. I met Lauren once in Indiana, and I, true to form, made an idiot of myself. Someday I should do a series of posts on ways I've made an idiot of myself while meeting someone I admire and/or someone who is relatively famous. That should be good for a few laughs.)

3:32 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Christianne... yes. I think our best time was when she and I went paddle boating together. Though that was pretty funny because she was having a hard time getting into the whole relaxation thing (after just having spoken about the need for people to be more relaxed in every moment). Other funny thing: every time we ran into each other in the bathroom, I was laughing with someone. She concluded that I have the spiritual gift of having too much fun in the bathroom. Hmmm... not sure about that one. :)

Heather... oh that's a good one. Yes, I should have left a message on the rocks. Very cave woman it would have been.

Mark... or you could just write about something controversial like EVOLUTION. ;-) I like your thoughts on Wordsworth. And the way you've flipped all this around.

Nancy... thanks!

Sarah... this is funny. She swears we met at the Calvin Festival. All I did was talk to the person NEXT TO her at a panel table. So I said that we definitely have a different concept of what meeting is. Of course, we've known each other by email for about 3 years. That has to count for something I guess.

Ann... didn't we take a hand shot together? I think? I liked that one. Now, I don't believe you made an idiot of yourself. I love how we met at a conference. I love your style. It's extremely endearing. But, yeah, I'd be up for the stories. : )

7:29 PM  
Blogger Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I like the vegetarian article you linked to. I've been eating a lot more vegetables and a lot fewer carbs for the last two months, and my allergies are getting substantially better. So I really believe that part about plant matter cleaning out toxins.

10:37 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...


retreat. breath and weight. hands clasped and clinging to the edge of it.

and breath again.

11:10 PM  
Blogger TAMI said...

I just found your blog this morning via Callapidder Days, and am beyond thrilled. I'm a "pastor of spiritual formation" who's in love with the Lord and discovering Him in any way He'll allow me to know Him, and especially through the disciplines. I look at your book list and just throb with companionship for your interests/passions/pursuits.

I'm leaving the house in just a couple of minutes to lead a 5:30 a.m. prayer time at our church, but when I get back I'm going to scour over as many of your posts, both your blogs, and your upcoming book excerpts as I can! Thanks for allowing me to peek around.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Glad you made it to Laity Lodge. That is the first picture I've seen of that boulder in Box Canyon. Great photo!

9:30 AM  
Blogger Jim Martin said...

You are ahead of me. I will post regarding my time there either tomorrow or the next day.

You met a couple who are very good friends of mine (The Cox's) He said to tell you that they were the "tall couple from Waco."

10:07 AM  
Blogger One More Writer said...

I'm sorry your first visit to Texas had to be in the middle of summer--where even slight breezes feel as if they've come out of a hot oven.

But I'm glad you enjoyed your time at Laity Lodge.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

Two things: That big rock is a beauty when meditatively meandering but not so much to the one who is zipping through on a mountain bike. They should paint a bold neon hazard sign on it, don't you think? (jk)

When the kids are grown, I would love to transform the backyard from a place of playing to a place of pondering. Maybe a fountain, a statue, and stone steps. I like those very much. Say, were those steps going up or down?

10:28 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Ruth... thanks! That is awesome that you are experiencing better health. A true blessing.

Kirsten... exactly. :)

Tami... welcome to Seedlings. Yes, we have things in common. I shall enjoy getting to know you!

Dan... great to have you stop by. I was completely taken with that canyon. Especially the orange lichen on the rocks. Never in my life have I seen orange lichen.

Jim... I'll be waiting patiently. :) As I'm in Tennessee this week, I may be slower at responding, but I promise I'll find time somehow. Now, of course I remember them. Julie and Jeff. Totally enjoyed their company. How I wish I'd known that you knew them. Funny, I remember seeing "Waco" on their name tags and thinking of you.

One More Writer... actually, it was just as pleasant as any hot and humid day in NY. I think the fact that it was dry made a difference. And at Laity Lodge, there was a constant, lovely breeze and the coolness of the river. I would go back again tomorrow if I had the chance.

Craver... hilarious. Now, you wouldn't want to bike in there though. You can't even put your feet just anywhere, for fear of getting lost in a bottomless pit of spring water. As for the steps, they were going down, but I had to stay up, because it was time to leave. Sigh. Sniffle.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Laure said...

how willing everywhere is to tell us its secrets. i'd like to think this witness you speak of is not 'either' 'or' but 'and.'

1:20 PM  
OpenID samwrites2 said...

You make my heart ache recalling the beauty of Texas to my mind.
Thanks for sharing your experience and photos.

2:09 PM  
Blogger A Musing Mom said...

I witness all this through senses open, full, longing.

Sounds like a well-spent retreat.

I like your hands photo. I think I enjoyed the feet ones more though because there were shoes to contemplate (what do the shoes say about the person wearing them? I like to think about that).

You and Lauren Winner seem, from your writing, like you would get along well. When I met her (in Indiana, like Ann - say Ann, were you at Earlham?), I was too intimidated to take any sort of picture.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Freedominthedance said...

Yes! I understand that immediate sense of 'this silence is so loud' that it grips your head, heart and immediately takes you into His presence.
I love the hill country and Texas, period.
If you come again, let's do coffee or just sit by the Guadalupe river and bask in Daddy's presence together. In the meantime, know you're loved down here in this place.

3:09 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Laure... yes, so many secrets. Beautiful, beautiful secrets.

Sam... it's a special place, I agree. And I hope to share a few more thoughts and photos before I move on to other things.

A Musing... it was good to meet the person behind the words. Always an interesting experience. Now, about the shoes, I love that. People in sandals aren't as willing though. So summer is hand pic time I guess! :)

Daune.... what a sweet invitation. I guess I'll have to come back to ya'll. :) And you know what? I was so surprised by all the trees. Makes me realize I probably have a lot of misconceptions about many things. (The woman beside me on the plane was laughing, because I was exclaiming about all the trees. 'What did 'ya think, girl?! she said and laughed so hard.)

4:52 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

What a penetrating chapter on humillity. I went over it again and again on my 6.75 mile fast hike today. That chapter is life-changing from your book, L.L.!

But sounds like you had a neat time in TX, even if steamy and hot there. Would be great to hear and meet Lauren Winner (am not familiar with Tod).

I guess I had forgotten you're a vegetarian. My wife, Deb, is a vegan. We pretty much go along on the ride, but it isn't easy and is sometimes broken, like when we're visiting relatives. I have felt better on that kind of diet as opposed to one that has a signficant portion of meat every day- it seems. But when I have more time, I'll be interested in reading more carefully your article on that.

Too bad you missed Jim!

6:49 PM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...

Silence and sun...sounds like the makings of a wonderful retreat.

9:31 PM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

L.L., I posted my poetry response. It's not about stairs, but it is about the canyon. I hope it suffices.

Andre (and the rest), I would like nothing better than to hang out with you some day at Laity Lodge in the silence and sun. Though box canyon is actually kind of shady.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

And Craver, some stupid people (whose names might be Marcus and his brother-in-law) have been known to think it would be a great idea to go mountain biking in the river and the springs.

This may seem like a good idea. But it is not.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous heather said...

I was thinking more catacombs or possibly Basquiat.
But there's something about creating art that you know will disappear. The timefulness of it. Like building sandcastles.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Jennifer, Snapshot said...

I finally (finally!) posted my Stone Crossings review on the new books site 5 Minutes for Books. I even included a little stone crossings picture that I took just for you.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

That is good, very good!

I like that verse you wrote, I was almost there with you.

Well done!!!!!

4:55 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

l.l. - i just wanted to let you know how much i appreciated the article on your decision to become vegetarian. some of the responses are quite spirited (to put it nicely), but i am also happy to see some like-minded wayfarers joining the throng of those who are finding both personal and more global benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. :o)

8:10 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Ted, thanks. That was a hard chapter to write! The "be honest" requirement for writers is one of the more difficult aspects of the job. :) Yes, I remember that about Deb. And yes, the family aspect can be a challenge. I don't know that I've really worked that out to everyone's satisfaction, even after 10 years of this lifestyle.

Every Square... yes, yes, yes. :)

Marcus... of course a canyon will suffice (this is reminding me of some little poem about a turtle, I think, by Ogden Nash, I think). And that's funny that you and your brother-in-law tried to bike in the river, etc. I've been thinking I should have walked barefoot in the shallow part where people drive. Too many things to try out at once! I'll have to come back. It'd be good to come back when people like Every Square and others are there (hint, hint, Laity Director... what kind of retreat could you dream up for us bloggers?)

Heather... disappearing art. Hmmm... I guess it helps us hold things more lightly.

Jennifer... thanks. I appreciate this!

Martin... almost, but not quite. Well, maybe when we get that blogger's retreat (hint, hint again, Laity Director), you can just come on over from ole England and actually be with me. Fun.

Kirsten... thanks for the encouragement. It's amazing what some people are willing to comment, isn't it? I was thinking this morning that somehow it must seem to certain people that a little article like that represents the whole of me... all my opinions, knowledge, experience and so forth. It was sobering in a way, because I realize I must also do that to other writers. Not understanding that an article is just a small glimpse. A piece in time and limited space. You know?

1:04 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I tagged you.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Linking to you - and actually missing you too - too, too busy - but hopefully things will slow down shortly and I'll be back reading here again soon!

12:02 AM  

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