Last weekend, as I’ve done nearly every year since 1994, I attended a Silent Retreat at Camp Huston near Wallace Falls State Park. Sponsored by Pacific Northwest Quarterly Meeting, the retreat draws 20 to 30 Quakers from Washington and parts of Idaho. Our shared silence begins after a potluck dinner on Friday night and continues until lunch on Sunday. I’ve written about this gathering before, and I plan to write more about this year’s time of retreat in the future. For now, it prompted this January Afterthought of a relevant reflection from Holly Hughes in The Pen and the Bell – Mindful Writing in a Busy World.
Holly wrote about a weekend workshop she co-led at the North Cascades Institute called “Sit, Walk, Write: Nature and the Practice of Presence.” As she looked at Sourdough Mountain, Holly thought of writers like Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac who spent time in fire lookouts and of all the words that had been written in and around that landscape.
I’m reminded that whenever we come together, we bring the presence
not just of those who are with us, but of a much larger community:
the books that have informed us, and the writers who’ve nudged
us along, helping to shape our views.
Last weekend, as I walked among the cedars dripping with rain and chartreuse moss, I thought of the many Friends I’ve shared silence with at Camp Huston for nearly 20 years. A number of them have died and several have moved away, but I still feel their presence and know that they, along with those I gathered with this year, nudge me along on my spiritual journey.