Letter from the Director – January 2024

The Magic of Beginnings

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” 

Meister Eckhart

January arrived cold and wet to Tennessee, but today the sun shines meekly over frosted fields. I listen to the wind carve the corners of the buildings and rustle the awnings on the kitchen deck. If I keep my coat and hat on and shield myself from the breeze, the sun warms me enough to feel comfortable. I feel clear-headed, which is nice after climbing out of the hard endings of 2023. 

I like the quote we’re sharing today. I like it because it has the word magic in it and the phrase it’s time to start. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get fed up with waiting. Even though I can be good at the type of waiting known as procrastination, there are times I just want to go, to start, to move. It’s like waiting for a triathlon race to start on race day. You have to arrive early only to stand around for an hour or two, getting more nervous and antsy, until the race is officially underway. The worst part of racing for me is before the beginning. Once I start, I’m good. 

I also like the thought behind the phrase and suddenly you know. I learned a new term recently: Perseverative Cognition. It’s a fancy way to say overthinking, rumination. If there were a contest for this, I would win. I can overthink my way to the moon and back. But, sometimes you don’t have to think too hard or too long. Sometimes you know – suddenly, doubtlessly, remarkably. You know. When you know something important, the most logical thing to do next is to act. Once you know and act, it seems appropriate and logical to trust that you’re doing the right thing. 

Five years ago, I knew what I knew about writing and I acted by starting RWC. I trusted that a retreat center for residencies and weekend workshops would bless other writers. I think it has. If I go back to the word magic, I smile. Magic infers wonder and enchantment, a supernatural knowing within a mortal existence. I tend to think the colony has a bit of magic. I feel it when I’m walking the trails, sitting on the front porch with my journal, or even when I’m cleaning the kitchen. The magic is almost tangible for me.

As I was clearing the brambled edges of the creek bed recently, a thought rose to my awareness. I let it dance a little bit in my brain. I let it tease me. I worked as I contemplated this thought, my physical labor in tune with my mental effort. The sun on my back warmed me and suddenly I knew it was time to trust in more than the visual, known routines of the last five years. 

That doesn’t mean RWC will stop being a haven for writers’ residencies and retreats, but it does mean we’re making some slow changes. It means we’re going to have more closed weeks so that Heather and I can focus on more than the day-to-day upkeep of this place. It means we’re going to simplify and strategize and decide what’s important and what is not. It may not be completely clear what the end result is going to look like right now. I have many ideas and I’m sure it will evolve. I trust that it will be a magical evolution. 

For now, I invite you to consider a residency in 2024 or to attend one of our new retreats just announced. Both experiences come with special blessings.

I wish you a great start to a great year, and that you suddenly know what you need to do, trusting in the magic that comes when you follow your heart into the brave beginnings laid out in front of you, waiting for you to say yes