Come wander in your words at a Haven Writing Retreat in 2018!
You don’t have to be a writer to come. Just a seeker who dearly longs for your voice.
Now Booking Haven I Retreats 2018! Click here for more info.
Every year I give my blog over to my Haven Writing Retreats alums for a week or so, and ask them to write on a theme. This year it’s this question: What is your haven and how do you show up for it?
“What’s your Haven?”
Shock waves running through my body, my brain scrambling for an immediate answer. What…where’s my Haven?
Blank. I am running blank, turning my attention to some other topic, avoiding the response to such painful question. Too painful.
Slowly, over days, memories flash through. Each having its own effect on my heart, my body. I still refuse to let them all in. Until, finally, I allow my thoughts to face reality.
Sweet summer days on the steps leading to my childhood home. My favorite place to play with my cuddly cat, while tiny red beetles hurry through, contouring my dirty little feet barring their way. Haven.
Roosted in the tree’s branch fork, munching bell-apples, contemplating my oh so confusing teenage life. Haven.
Years later, I sit on my terrace perched high on a hill in Haiti, feet resting on its balustrade, facing the green, wide plain surrounded by chains of mountains, bordered by the Caribbean Sea. The soothing peace is always instant. At the beauty of this spectacular view, all stress of downtown’s busyness, of slum’s ugliness, of people’s harshness falls off me. Breathing, inhaling the sweet smell of tropical flowers, my heart stills. Haven.
Another terrace, another European life. Snow has fallen, the world is silent. Stars twinkle in the dark night. Wrapped in a cozy blanket, I breathe the crisp air. Refreshing my soul, soothing the heated arguments that are part of my days. Stilling the ache, healing the scars. Haven.
In a whirlwind, I was back in the tropics. Another island, another terrace. Wide space, filled with enormous pots of Bougainvillea, Jasmin, tropical flowers of any kind. Lush, green grass in front of me. An old white wooden bench in a far corner, shaded by pink-blooming orchid trees, their long branches swaying in a light breeze. Far away, the Blue Mountains, majestic, impressive, beautiful. I sit on the comfy cushions of our royal-blue bench, a cup of finest Blue Mountain Coffee beside me. Dreaming, sighing with content. I craved a new life. I found it. Topped off with a light-filled dwelling in a quiet street amidst busy Kingston, with views to soothe away any storm of my life. Haven. Twelve years later, I returned to the room of my teenage years. I moved my old table to the bay window, observing the change of seasons, enjoying the gift of this year-long stay in the village. Spring and summer long gone, this Fall was special and beautiful. The trees that just donned bright autumn colors now wear mounts of snow.
I look up from my laptop. The contrast of sparkling snow and blue sky is stunning. Christmas is coming. An eventful year will soon end. At this table, I am writing the account of these past months, yearning to spend a last Christmas with my mother.
I bought a smaller sized Christmas tree and placed it at the foot of her hospital bed. She enjoys the lights and the tinsel, while her own window displays the snow-covered front yard and village street.
Some withered red roses still hang onto branches of our large bush, each dressed up with a hat of snow. Mami hangs on too, often dozing off, her strength fading.
I return to my own window, at peace. Our time together is a long bitter-sweet goodbye, but a good one. We are both seeking, Heaven and Haven.
Back in Haiti. At last. Forging yet another new life. Unexpected, unsettled, it’s future unknown. Still restless.
Today, I am floating. Shocked to realize that I haven’t found another Haven yet. I am seeking, still.
Here I sit. Next to my haven, the Pacific Ocean. I’ve only lived here for a minute, but every morning we greet each other like long lost soul mates. Like somehow we’ve been tethered together for many life times yet only now is the perfect time to experience each other’s presence.
I’m home. Home to the natural beauty around me.
Home to myself.
Take a breath.
Like soul mates do, we share. Deeply.
Me, I tell her things I don’t share with anyone in human form: my fears, my dreams, my deep soul longings. I trust her completely. We both know she won’t tell.
For her, the stories she shares are less secrets to keep and more sage wisdom she’s swept up along her shores over time. Dispensing it freely, and when I need it the most.
She tells me to roar when the situation demands it. Roar for the pain and suffering in the world. Roar for joy. Roar for myself.
She tells me to dance often. Dance to her rhythm. Dance to my rhythm, my heart beating in time with her waves.
She tells me there will always be high tides and low tides. Her advice to handle them? Flow.
Her vast presence alone tells me to be humble. Every morning, I stand on her shore and wonder how people cannot believe in a higher power when she so gently reminds us of our smallness.
She tells me to persist. No matter how often the shore sends her away, she keeps coming back. Always.
She tells me that there is a time for stillness and listening. Skills that get honed and shaped on her shores, for me, daily.
My spiritual connection to the Pacific Ocean runs deep. I have a lot to learn from her. Our time together is imperative to my well-being, and it is non-negotiable.
The Pacific Ocean.