The Retreat

I participated in a three day Retreat led by Samdhong Rinpoche. The Retreat was held in Valley School, a hundred acre spread of property allowed to remain wild. We followed a loose schedule, with large tracks of personal time to remain in quietness with ourselves. The only way I remain in close touch with myself is through writing and painting. The place was too beautiful to spend time indoors writing.  It rained intermittently, and when it stopped the Sun shone unabashedly, pulling dragonflies out of their haunts. Birds called feverishly from the tall trees. The earth bled red and runnels of water flowed across the pathways in the forest. 

On one of my walks I found this beautiful tree in the neighbouring property. I stood in a clearing away from trees and bushes as I painted, just a few minutes ago I saw a long snake slither into a bush beyond. I widened the gap in the barbed fence and explored the neighbour’s property which was overrun with tall grass and thick growth of cacti. Just beyond the fence that you see in the picture is a large banyan tree with its dense arch of aerial roots. I did not have the time to paint the banyan tree, I was already late and  ran just in time for the meditation session.

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I sat on a stone bench that oversaw the cross road between the thickly forested cover.  After a brisk and intense downpour, the cloud cleared and the light was magical.

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Mornings were mesmerising, I followed a path that led me here. Under the tall trees where I stood to paint it was still dark, but the pond and the bridge were suspended in the lucid morning light.

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There is a lake, my friend said, beyond the Art Village. She took me there and asked me to join her in time for the meditation. Again, I just about made it, I mean to the meditation session! The lake kept me pinned to the spot. I finished the painting very fast, but the luminosity of the water as it reflected light was captivating.

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On an afternoon that I could not go out to paint because of the rain, I drew this from my porch. This is the view of the forest from my room.

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