Not long ago, John Fox led a poetry writing workshop in Portland, Oregon. The theme, “Writing Our Relationship With Trees” seemed ho-hum–until I attended.
During these two days I witnessed the wonder of words and sharing that happened as John offered prompts, read poems by Wendell Berry, Jane Hirshfield and Naomi Shihab Nye–and invited the rest of us to write and share.
It’s amazing what can happen when we sit to write about and with these tall lives from deep root to branches–and when we write from our memories associated with maple, cedar, apple and pear. Trees help us to breathe, yet how often do we stop to contemplate their impact?
This week I want to share some of the writing from that weekend by Carolyn Norred, Esther Elizabeth and Peg Edera–all poets who have been previously featured on L.I.T..
Some people endeavor to study for a PhD in microbiology or medieval literature. Others take a year or two to travel the world, learn about other cultures and people, and begin their own business or perhaps parent a humanitarian non-profit to better living conditions for people in Sudan. Another path might lead a person to medical or law school or maybe to begin a family while teaching history. Fewer people make the choice Galen Doucette, 31, and Liza Baer, 30, have made: Beginning April 4, 2015 they will enter into a cloistered life for the next three years and three months.
They are the youngest who will be a part of the group at Ser Chö Ösel Ling (SCOL), the retreat land in Goldendale, Washington built by KCC (Kagyu Changchub Chuling) a Tibetan Buddhist organization in Portland, Oregon. So far, Galen will be the only man, though traditionally more men than women have chosen to enter a long retreat which often lead a retreatant to become a lama (spiritual leader).
Our one certainty: The times are always a-changing, and this week I’d like to share Galen’s story because he’s quite a guy–and I had plenty of time to talk with him while out cooking for a retreat in October. I also invite you to meet Liza Baer who tells her own story quite beautifully at her website.