Retreating, Journeying, and Starting

I've been away this week at our annual faculty retreat at Lake Cumberland State Resort Park.  I blogged about it

last year

.  A highlight for me was spotting 5 deer who were eating the grass along a frisbee golf course.  I was able to get pretty close but unfortunately, it was near dark and I only had my iPhone with me so I don't have any good pictures to share.  But it's a moment I won't soon forget.

While there I went on a very brief walk and took a few photos.  I wanted to walk longer or go on another work but a) there just wasn't time, b) it rained while we were there, and c) I was too tired from sitting through a long day of meetings.  Yes, I'm complaining.  I know.  This retreat was nothing like the kind of retreat I prefer to be on, what something you readers may have been on like a spiritual or art retreat.  This retreat, though, was an opportunity to get away from the college campus and interact with colleagues in a beautiful setting and for that I am grateful.

The retreat began on Tuesday with my friend and colleague, Brenda, sharing a video of a presentation that poet David Whyte gave a few years ago at the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium.  (By the way, I highly recommend the Psychotherapy Networker, a magazine for mental health professionals.)  With a quick google search I found this youtube video of a small part of the presentation we watched.  I was first introduced to him by Liz Lamoreux who read much of his poetry to us during the art retreat I attended this past May.  I could just listen to his poems all day.

One of the poems he shared is the following.  It is resonating with me as I take steps along my own journey.


by David Whyte

Start close in,
don't take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don't want to take.

Start with

the ground

you know,

the pale ground

beneath your feet,

your own

way of starting

the conversation.

Start with your own


give up on other

people's questions,

don't let them

smother something


To find
another's voice,
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
to another.

Start right now

take a small step

you can call your own

don't follow

someone else's

heroics, be humble

and focused,

start close in,

don't mistake

that other

for your own.

Start close in,
don't take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don't want to take.
I'm reminded that on this journey we sometimes need to retreat, take a step back, relax, reflect, and focus.  Yet, you can spend too much time retreating.  Eventually you have to start, whatever your task may be.  And starting can be the hardest part.  It's much easier knowing you're not the only one.  You are not alone.  There are others with you along the way.