The sky was grey as I jaunted down the hill to my favorite little park…and I do mean little: two benches and some ground cover sloping 20 feet down to a chain link fence on the edge of a bluff. But while the park is small, its view is not. Between the houses and their surrounding trees on either side of this small piece of City real estate I have a wide vista of water, Whidbey Island to the northwest, and the peninsula and its mountains to the southwest.

This day as I turned the corner into the park and the view opened up before me, I felt suddenly off balance, as if the natural order of things had been turned upside down, or backward: the water in the Sound seemed to be rushing away from me. I gripped the back of the nearest bench for support.

The next moment I realized it was no mere seeming: the water really was rushing away from me. The wind was streaming down the hill at my back, sweeping down the bluff, and pushing the water out to sea!

I stood transfixed. The water flowed out in endless ripples that grew ever wider, ever longer as they moved toward the far side of the Sound and out to the sea—the light and the clouds were such that I could almost see the curve of the earth in the misty distance where the waves met the sky—and kept on rolling, out, out, ever out.

I suddenly felt like I was standing before that Rublev icon of the Trinity, with its reversed perspective. I on the bluff was the vanishing point and the water racing toward the far horizon, shrouded in mist and mystery, was an icon of eternity opening out from a single point in endless possibility.


Last fall, my dear friend Jody Collins and I hosted a writing retreat, which we both felt was a little glimmer of Heaven. I’m happy to announce that we’ll be holding another retreat this year! It will be different than last year’s, of course, but we’re going to try to keep the same spirit of waiting on God and communing with one another.

Our theme for 2016 is Dwell.

We dwell in Christ—and He in us. How then does He live through our art? Over the weekend we will prayerfully consider this question and explore a variety of possible answers. Our key Scriptures will focus on Christ indwelling us, and our dwelling in God.

For me, this word dwell calls to mind Emily Dickinson’s poem about possibility, which in turn reminds me of that moment on the bluff with the water racing away from me toward the horizon:

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –
Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –
Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation—This—
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise—

Dickinson’s words encapsulate Jody’s and my hope for this retreat: that we’d spread wide our narrow hands to encompass more—more possibility, more creativity, more beauty. More God. We hope and pray that this retreat will be the beginning of that wider embrace.

As with last year, our desire is to create a quiet, relaxed retreat for women writers—space to write and create, to pray and worship, to connect at a heart level with other women writers, and to enjoy the beauty of the natural world.

For those who want to be social, there will be plenty of time for connection over meals, over an art activity, and during the sessions. And for those who want to be quiet or alone, there will be lots of time to simply be (or write or hike or sleep)—we are intentionally keeping the retreat slow-paced and contemplative. We want you to come home refreshed and rested and energized for the work ahead.

If you’re interested in joining us, here’s everything you need to know:

Who: YOU, we hope. (And Jody and me, of course.)

What: a weekend of worship, laughter (and maybe some tears), and camaraderie among women writers of faith

When: Friday, September 9 – Sunday, September 11, 2016. We’ll start around 5 on Friday evening and finish up around noon on Sunday.

Where: Grunewald Guild near Leavenworth, Washington

How much: We have several options for lodging that affect the price. All prices include 5 meals (dinner Friday through brunch on Sunday). Early bird pricing expires March 1.

Option 1: Dorm-style room (up to five roomies): $159 early bird; $199 regular (after March 1)

Option 2: Shared room (one roommate): $219 early bird; $259 regular (after March 1)

Option 3: Private room (your own slice of silence): $259 early bird; $299 regular (after March 1)

All shared and private rooms have a sink in the room. Toilet and showers are shared among all residents on a floor. Towels and bed linens are provided. (Toiletries are not.)

Please note that there are a limited number of private rooms and limited beds in the dorm. We’ll be handing them out on a first-come, first-served basis. For that matter, there are a limited number of shared rooms, too. We’ve got room for 20 people, friends, so get your registration in ASAP to reserve your spot!

How to register: Shoot Jody an email with your Yes along with your name, snail mail and email addresses, phone number, and room preference. She’s got us set up with a Paypal account this year, so payment will be easy. Your spot is reserved once we’ve received your email AND your payment in full. (Keep that early bird deadline of March 1 in mind!)

If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask!

And please prayerfully consider whether Dwell is a place that God would like to meet you. It’s not for everyone, but maybe it’s for you?

Icon of the Trinity by Andrei Rublev, c. 1425.