reflections innSeven of us. All women. All writers. Spanning the decades. Mothers, daughters, sisters, spouses, grandmothers. All but two strangers to each other. Throw in a wild and scenic river, ancient stands of conifers, angels come to earth in the form of a husband/wife team of innkeepers, and dozens of wild turkeys moving with the density and speed of lava along the long driveway up from the road. Oh yes, and fresh bear scat on the trail ascending a few dozen yards from our lodgings, eagles plummeting from dizzifying heights in their search for fishy entrees, and echoing across the canyon: the howl of wolves.

The First Semi-Annual Clearwater Women Writer’s Retreat was crazy-productive and rather profoundly synergistic—one of those segments of time that is destined to become a benchmark in a creative life. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to say publicly that a new movement in Western literature has been born. That part remains to be seen, I suppose, but from the work I witnessed this past week, I promise it is not far from truth. Work born of the free-spirited hearts and minds of women who know the pain of love, the ultimate reward loss can bring, and who have taught themselves how important it is to walk through this life wide awake. Women who know how to take words and sculpt, paint, weave, spin, knit, carve, chisel worlds from them. Women who think a word has a life, has power, and to give into the magic is the only choice a person really gets to make.

Women I can’t wait to see again, so profound was their accidental witchery on my week, my writing, and my own humble existence. Sometimes when you write in a closet alone for too long, you forget how passionate about craft you actually are.

The next retreat is scheduled for Mar. 13-18, 2015, and every slot is already spoken for. Says tons that before the week was over, we all were ready to schedule a next round. Makes me wonder how many more of us are out there wandering about not knowing how it feels to find and be found, to recognize and be recognized. How it feels to witness the fount of grace and kinship that once in a rare while arises from unexpected intersections: the endless magical overlap, the joy, and the laughter.