Book Writing Saturday

Sanctuary: a place of refuge or safety, a consecrated place where sacred objects are kept.

Yesterday in my writing group, we did a guided meditation in which we constructed a creative sanctuary. Somewhere we could go whenever we needed it, imagined yes, but tangible and whole nonetheless. I went into this the same way I do everything else: having already made up my mind. If I were to have such a place, of course it would be a cabin in the mountains.

The first part of the meditation was to imagine a path leading to our sanctuary. What manifested for me was a path of sand. I have a friend who just got back from Hawaii, so I assumed this was placing my sanctuary in a tropical location, and I resisted. This was not right, the path should be stone or dirt. I tried to force it, to see that instead, but every time I tried to place that image over what was already in my mind, it immediately dissolved and the sand path asserted itself again.

When we reached the part of the meditation where we were to go inside and look around, it all made sense. There were two full walls of windows and as soon as I saw the view, I new it was right: the beach at Waldport. Not a tropical location at all, but rather the place where half my heart lives.

I love Colorado. My job is here, I own a home here, my tiny little family lives here, and I am in love with the beauty of this land, specifically northwestern Colorado–the mountains, the Poudre River, the animals, the rocks, the sky and the trees. I love living in Fort Collins, having the university campus and Old Town both so close, but also living far enough north that it’s not unusual to see a fox running down the road in the middle of the afternoon, or to have neighbors that have horses and chickens. I love having so many parks and wild places in town to walk the dogs, and so many close places to hike.

And yet, half of my heart lives in Waldport, Oregon. Every other year, we try to plan a month long vacation there, and the rest of the time, I dream about it, miss it. I’m not sure I could ever again live year round with the gray sky and rain of the Pacific Northwest, but it still is home to me. It made total sense that if I would imagine a sanctuary, this is the place my heart would wish for, the location my mind would imagine.

Even though the location made total sense, I was surprised by what I found inside. My creative process usually seems so focused on a goal, on a product, I expected that to be the case in my sanctuary. We were guided to see the things we were working on, to imagine them, but what I saw was more about process and practice: a yoga mat, a comfortable and cozy place to read and dream (a huge white heavy cotton sectional couch facing the windows), a meditation shrine and cushion, art supplies and a computer, stacks of journals and books, a large kitchen with a long farm table that could seat at least 10, either for dinner or making art or simply “shooting the shit.” Rather than a private art studio with evidence of many completed projects, it was a retreat space that could be used by just me or welcome a larger group.

The NaBloPoMo prompt for yesterday was “If you could live anywhere, where would it be?” The clear answer is I would live most of the year in Fort Collins, Colorado, and spend summers in Waldport, Oregon. I dream of a day when I have a real sanctuary on the beach there, one that I can use but also share with others who need a retreat space, a safe place to rest and dream and play, a place of comfort, a space to practice, a sanctuary.

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