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Moss at the river side

My favorite kind of learning is the sort that sneaks up on you. You think you’re going to discover one thing and, because you’re receptive, the Universe seizes the opportunity to hand you another. And another. Sometimes the Universe really likes to cram it in.

This summer I’ve taken temporary leave from my job as a Community Liaison (writer, organizer, webmaster, photographer, event planner, project manager, etc.) to complete a novel for young readers. The novel and I have been courting each other since 2006. We dance around the idea of being “done,” and what better place to wiggle our toes than in a space devoted to the form?

Earthdance is many things –learning center, community space for dancers and others who practice contact improvisation, garden/orchard, peaceful oasis-in-the-woods– and retreat for art-types and peace-makers looking to temporarily escape the distractions of everyday life.

Hoping to finally discover the conclusion to my novel, I arrived fully prepared to spend my days whittling away at hundreds of pages of notes containing two separate drafts, and seven years of revisions suggested by myself and members of my Boston-based writer’s critique group.

Earthdance’s lessons were easy-to-miss, so I’m glad I arrived with the intention to listen, to sit quietly, and to treat myself with kindness.

I learned how to share space with a spider . . .

Spider on a pillow

And a butterfly (admittedly, living with the butterfly was easier!)

The butterfly comments

I learned what it feels like to wander into a garden and come out with fixings for lunch, fresh from the soil.

Teeny carrot

I discovered the impact of choosing to begin and end each day with gratitude (more specifically, sleeping in a wonderfully wood-scented dormitory bearing that name.)

The dorm, gratitude

I learned sometimes it’s necessary to move your body in order to move your mind.

Shira swings

David in the woods

I learned, to dissuade a deer from munching the garden, running outside and clapping your hands works just fine.

The deer revealed

I learned that, although we serve different communities, the vision, staff, and mission of Earthdance is ever similar to what I’ve grown to enjoy and deeply respect back at work in Cambridge.

Kitchen moment at Earthdance

I learned to trust that, if I sit quietly enough, watching the woods for creativity’s approach, it may arrive peacefully, timidly, joyfully on delicate feet.

Window on the orchard

Or it may not.

Hard to catch that squirrel

And both are okay.

Thank you, Earthdance. ‘Til we meet again . . .