Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Weekend Away


St. John's at dusk. December 2004.

I was away on a retreat this weekend, off line, no computers, no books, no radio, no TV, newspapers or news.

Just me and a medley of about thirty others sharing a very large cabin by a lake, surrounded by trees and paths and silence.

But this wasn’t a silent retreat. And certainly not a religious retreat. But it was filled with spirit, laughter, music, skits and story-telling.

The dinner on Saturday night was catered. And it was turkey with all the trimmings. Many tables were shoved together to make one huge table and the thirty of us were able to sit down around it and be in the candlelight and warmth of friendship and easy conversation for several hours.

Then the guitars and piano and bodhran were brought out and the fun began.
The talent was awesome and one woman with an amazing voice and a guitar that seemed to have a life of its own channelled Janis Joplin like I’ve never heard her in “Me and Bobby McGee”.

Another fellow sang some of his own compositions and then riveted us all with an incredible version of Salt Water Joys that had me crying.

SALTWATER JOYS

Just to wake up in the morning, to the quiet of the cove
And to hear Aunt Bessie talking to herself.
And to hear poor Uncle John, mumbling wishes to old Nell
It made me feel that everything was fine.

I was born down by the water, it's here I'm gonna stay
I've searched for all the reasons why I should go away
But I haven't got the thirst for all those modern day toys
So I'll just take my chances with those saltwater joys.

Following the little brook as it trickles to the shore
In the autumn when the trees are flaming red
Kicking leaves that fall around me
Watching sunsets paint the hills
That's all I'll ever need to feel at home.

This island that we cling to has been handed down with pride
By folks that fought to live here, taking hardships all in stride
So I'll compliment her beauty, hold on to my goodbyes
And I'll stay and take my chances with those saltwater joys.

How can I leave those mornings with the sunrise on the cove
And the gulls like flies surrounding Clayton's wharf
Platter's Island wrapped in rainbow in the evening after fog
The ocean smells are perfume to my soul.

Some go to where the buildings reach to meet the clouds
Where warm and gentle people turn to swarmin', faceless crowds
So I'll do without their riches, glamour and the noise
And I'll stay and take my chances with those saltwater joys.

Some go to where the buildings reach to meet the clouds
Where warm and gentle people turn to swarmin', faceless crowds
So I'll do without their riches, glamour and the noise
And I'll stay and take my chances with those saltwater joys.


I entertained the bunch with my story of the descending skirt, my recounting embroidered and embellished to squeeze more laughter from the event.

There were other amazing little vignettes and stories, songs and instrumentals to keep the mood flowing and the laughter lingering.

We talked of everything and nothing, the simple and the complex. But mainly of the small, the gratitude of being alive, the gift of awareness, the sheer pleasure of being in the now on our short and uncertain journeys on this tiny little planet.

15 comments:

  1. That sounds like a splendid retreat and what was the purpose of it? Just a get together to have a really good time? I envy people who can sing whole complete songs. It seems like a disappearing skill. I wish there was more opportunity to sing, even for people like me who can't. I would gladly sing Janis Joplin songs out loud with a whole group. Glad you had such a good time, WWW. Good to have you back though also.

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  2. Sounds like a lovely relaxing weekend that lifted your spirits. The skirt story is clearly an established and much-loved party-piece. I can imagine it being more emebellished each time so eventually it becomes totally outlandish.

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  3. A delightful retreat, WWW - and delightfully described for our delight. Thank you!

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  4. Irene:
    Just a bunch of like-minded individuals from all walks of life on a journey of spiritual exploration with many musical side-benefits!
    XO
    WWW

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  5. Nick:
    This was my first public recounting of it so the bum-clutching part was a little over the top! It may get to the point of having wild purple polka dotted knickers on as the punchline!
    XO
    WWW

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  6. T:
    Wasn't there a song about dee-lightful, dee-lishus, I hear Fred Astaire doing it but can't quite put my finger on it.
    Thanks!
    XO
    WWW

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  7. That sounds like a wonderful few days with food for the body, soul and to keep the memory bank going for amny a long day.

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  8. GM:
    You summed it up very nicely, thanks!
    XO
    WWW

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  9. I would love one of those wonderful getaway/gettogethers these days.
    The Salt Water Joys is beautiful. Wish I could hear it too as you heard it then.
    Gx

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  10. Gaye:
    Once I'm away from Dialup Dementia I will link to the Youtube of this.
    I recommend such weekends to everyone so they can get a good recharge of the old batteries!!
    XO
    WWW

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  11. Didn't you go on those religious retreats in Ireland? When you weren't supposed to speak and about three days in they would give you CTS pamphlets about What a Catholic Boy/Girl ought to know? - then you understood why you were silent. The only way they knew how to do sex education was when you couldn't ask any questions. I could never do that bit where you crossed your arms about your breast and gave you last thoughts to your dying saviour.
    OF

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  12. Absolutely, OF, and the religious counsellors were scouting for vocations all through the retreatants. Like white on rice.
    BUT we were able to ask sex questions anonymously by putting them on a piece of paper in a big box for the priest to answer.
    Sweet Maude, we were so very innocent then!!
    XO
    WWW

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  13. Absolutely, OF, and the religious counsellors were scouting for vocations all through the retreatants. Like white on rice.
    BUT we were able to ask sex questions anonymously by putting them on a piece of paper in a big box for the priest to answer.
    Sweet Maude, we were so very innocent then!!
    XO
    WWW

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  14. Marbur memories, what beauty in these words.
    "Salt Water Joys" is still echoing in my head, I read it three times.
    I am from Nfld.it's my homeland & after 54 years I still feel the connection. I have kept in touch with old friends & I know that somewhere in my heart there is one special corner that never aches that's the salt water joy I live with.
    Love the blogging.

    Marbur

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  15. Thank you Marbur.
    I think those that are born near the salt and the sea never leave it. It runs through our very bones.
    XO
    WWW

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