This weekend I had the opportunity to get out of Belfast and spend a few days on retreat with some amazingly talented people. Around 50 young creatives, entrepeneurs, doctors, educators, social activists and other generally inspiring professionals spent the weekend together on Lusty Beg* Island in Fermanagh. We caught a little ferry across the lake, ploughing through the ever-present Fermanagh fog and stayed in wooden cabins perched along the lake edge, eating, talking, listening, praying and dreaming together. It was an exhausting and inspiring weekend and it was a privilege to be part of it.
Life has been so busy already this year and promises to get busier and busier with work and books and all sorts of exciting side projects, (watch this space for an update this week). This past week has been so crazy hectic that I feel like I’ve spent all week acting like a writer and never managing to write anything. Space was an absolute blessing to me this weekend, and on Saturday afternoon, with a glass of Rioja in hand and this fabulous view in front of me, I finally managed to circumnavigate the block in Roundabouts, which I’ve been thumping my head off for the last fortnight, and write 1,500 words in one sitting. Sometimes, a change of scenery can make all the difference.
The retreat also allowed me space to think and pray through some good resolutions for the years. I realised that I’m pretty good on self-discipline when it comes to writing and reading, but I’ll need to improve drastically at resting and saying no, if i’m to make it through to 2015 in one piece. I can’t be everything to everyone and write the novel I want to write this year and, after this weekend I know that my main focus for this season will be these two novels. I’m going to leave a lot of guilt on Lusty Beg Island. I refuse to run myself ragged trying to do everything. It’s not productive for anyone. I drove home from Enniskillen listening to the great and mighty Iron and Wine. The line “we gladly run in circles but the shape we meant to make is gone,” caught in my throat in a good way and felt like a revelation. This will be a year of deliberate living and I have no doubt that it will, at times, feel less, but I suspect that in the long run, it will prove to be much much more.
* for anyone interested Lusty Beg translates as Little Lodge and is an ancient monastic settlement with a long tradition of spiritual retreat.