Turned Around at Laity Lodge

Am I really here?

All week we’ve gathered in the Great Hall, sunk in soft sofas or perched on chairs, and faced the fireplace.

And my heart burned with words and songs, and tears flowed, but they could not extinguish the flames.

Since Thursday, I’ve felt embraced by the canyon and living avatars.

This morning, Sunday, the room is turned around to face the glass wall, a window to rock that rises above the Frio.

The elements wait–icing on the cake of community we’ve shared.

Jeffrey reads from a piece by Buechner who talks about being good stewards of pain, and Gordon shares from his heart, and I’m so in tune I forget to take notes.

Steven invites us to share (I forget what order this all happened), and I raise my hand.

I want to tell of the gift and how being here is a gift and how my heart is so very full because of the gift, a gift delivered straight from the hand of God through a vessel of clay.

You see, I’d entered the “contest” to come and decided that if I “won,” I would take that as a sign that this was my season even in this time.

And when my name wasn’t drawn, I contented myself with the hope for next year.

But then came an email that an anonymous someone had given a gift, and God had written my name on it.

I want to articulate how my tied-up heart has been unwrapped, but I choke and snuffle, and my pretty words (and dignity) puddle on the floor.

I’m glad I’m in a place where there’s safety in unlocked rooms and hearts and strangled voices.

I know my life now is as turned around as this room.

Before we leave this place, I walk past the fountain, past word-bearing rocks, and down the steps to the dock.

And I remember:

Squeals and hugs here as the virtual morphed flesh, and the real became more real.

A white-billed duck, rock that showered water, and trailing fingers in the river from a kayak.

My room and gentle roommate, coyotes that sang, and a scorpion that didn’t sting (a photo fail.)

A hike up Circle Bluff, and how just when I thought I could not climb over one more rock, we reached the top and a magnificent view.

A room where I could play with paints and scraps and plunge my thumb in glue and create something flawed and beautiful.

A circle of poets biting into the round jubilance of word peaches.

A plate of brownies and friends who spoke of rhythms and rumors and writing while hummingbirds scuffled.

The crunch of red stone underfoot as I walk the path alone in early morning.

A late-night discussion about how to have an online funeral if something should happen to one of us. Just the thought of that tears a hole in my heart.

And red hibiscus tea-spotted white pants (don’t ask), trays laden with grapes and cheese, steaming mugs, fresh-baked bread, Asian soup with shredded coconut, and Laity Lodge Christmas cookies.

A vulture soars above, and I realize that something has died in me. But something else has taken root, and I feel its pulse.

Did I not ask Him to enlarge my territory?

How do I explain these things?

How do I explain what’s happening inside?

I try to wrap my heart around all of it, but I don’t think I can contain it.

It bulges like an overstuffed suitcase

I turn around to go, but I don’t leave.


On In Around button


  1. says

    Sandy, this takes my breath. Much I’ve yet to sort, but let me add my gratitude for the gift that got you there. It would not have been what it was with you still at home.

    I mean that.
    Lyla Lindquist recently posted..About the Corn

    • Sandra says

      I’m still overwhelmed by it all, Brandee. Still processing. Probably will be until next year. :)

  2. says

    What a gift it was to meet you and hug on your person for a change! I will never forget this time at the lodge. How you became my indentured servant. :) Seriously. As Marcus told us, the scorpions won’t kill you. Just make you really sick.

    All kidding aside, meeting you was one of the highlights. Love to you, beautiful lady.
    laura recently posted..Playdates with God: When Your Heart is Full…

    • Sandra says

      You are the Scorpion Queen, and I am your slave for life!

      I so love your sweet and gracious spirit, Laura. I see Jesus in you.

  3. says

    What a special time it must have been… your words are full of the wonder, the spillover of joy, the ache of deep emotions. I think you were in His presence there. I’m so glad you could go and have that experience.
    Carol J. Garvin recently posted..Blackberry Memories

  4. says

    Sandy, wow! So thankful that you were chosen by God to receive this very special gift. May He continue to burn in your heart and draw you closer not only to His own, but also to hearts of this beautiful, creative, avatar-become-flesh writing family. You make my heart hungry to share in this grand adventure next year. :)
    Cindee Snider Re recently posted..An Accidental Treasure

  5. says

    Thank you for allowing me to stow away. It sounds as if the retreat was as I’d imagined it might be–except way beyond my imagination.

    I’m so glad you were there.
    Sheila recently posted..The Pop Quiz

    • Sandra says

      You are so sweet, Megan. What a joy to meet you there and spend time with you! So grateful for your Sunday morning confirmation, too. :) xoxo

  6. says

    Oh Sandy! How beautiful are your words and the way you piece your pics together makes me feel such longing. How blessed are we? What a privilege to meet you and laugh with you. You are the pearl found here at Deep See Diving. Love you!

    • Sandra says

      Blessed beyond measure, Pat! And how hysterical is it to have to go all the way to Texas to meet! Love you more!

    • Sandra says

      Absolutely! I wish we weren’t missing one–even a strand of hair or a foot or a hand . . .

    • Sandra says

      Still walking on water, my cross-eyed friend! Being there, meeting you and having it feel like we’d already met–my heart overflows.

    • Sandra says

      It’s amazing to me how God can create a real family in an online environment–and then unite them in a place like LL. I’m so grateful.

    • Sandra says

      Still in awe, Carolyn, with the gift and in tracing back the years, the journey that brought me there.

    • Sandra says

      Thanks, Kathy. So glad I met you, too. It’s really something, isn’t it, how tight online friends can become. So much so that we want to share each others’ daily sufferings and joys. And to be able to grieve and celebrate each others’ lives. This discussion encouraged me to be sure that my family knows my passwords and have directions to post for me if the time comes that I can’t.