Last week, I mentioned that the Conference & Retreat opens with a Plenary Panel session followed by a question, answer, and discussion period. There’s no pressure that evening or in the following days to come up with a new topic for the next year’s Plenary: From past experience, we know the topic will make itself clear by our last morning’s gathering.
I don’t remember the particular ways in which all of our Plenary topics emerged, but our days of writing, readings, and shared meals have led to topics such as
- Pictures in Our Heads
- Writing & Social Justice
- Why Write?
- Body & Word
and this year’s topic, “Getting Lost,” for which I do have an origin story. A story that’s perhaps not remarkable, but one that might illustrate the rhythms of a CWC Conference & Retreat.
Last year, Yvonne Rutford offered a workshop entitled “A Walk in the Woods: Fine-Tuning the Senses.” We assembled wearing comfortable shoes and clothes that, as Yvonne had suggested, could “withstand a little dirt.” After becoming acquainted with Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking and photocopied maps of Goddard’s woodlands and walking trails, we set out, paper and pens in hand.
I remember taking off my sturdy shoes before I crossed a creek, so my bare feet could curve around the moist and moss-ornamented log I’d chosen as a bridge.
I remember lying on the ground, eyes closed so I might become better aware of the earth’s scent.
I remember sitting up to write about this.
And I remember finding out that one of our community—I will not say who—was lost. And stayed lost enough that, as darkness neared, we alerted the Help Desk and began to talk of search parties.
But he was found, or found her way—again, I won’t say who or give a clue—and worry gave way to relief, which turned to banter and the beginnings of a standing joke. But in the way that such things happen while writing and reading and sharing meals, the phrase “Getting Lost” became evocative and, by the closing gathering, the undisputed topic for the 2015 Plenary Panel as well.
“Getting Lost” is a short phrase, as all our others have been, and I expect it will be interpreted with as much variety—humor, pathos, an offbeat and unexpected wisdom–as our other topic titles have been. Our 2015 Plenary presenters are Heather Huddleston, Sarah Shellow, and Sam Sherman. Come hear what they have to say about getting lost, and maybe find your own next writing topic as well.