Saturday morning went by so quickly because Francis had the ability to draw me into each part of the discussions. I was often quite shy when I found myself surrounded by a large group of people I didn't know, and yet here I was with well over fifty participants that I had never met, feeling safe and welcomed. After lunch Francis introduced to us the plan for using the paper and art tools. She began by asking us to get comfortable as she played some beautifully calming music while gently giving us the instructions. As we began, I felt so relaxed and opened, a good place for honesty to thrive.
Francis invited each of us to think back to the innocence of our early youth and get a mental picture that embodied that time. She asked us to sketch the image and while drawing, write down words that described our memory of this time. I quickly began attempting to illustrate the tricycle that I had dearly loved as a child. I had a smile on my face and in my heart as I remembered the freedom I felt while riding up and down our street. It was the first mode of travel other than walking or riding in a car that I experienced and it had offered me pure joy and excitement, and these were the words I wrote around my beautiful trike...joy, freedom, pleasure, fun, excitement, friends and nothing can stop me. Did I forget to mention the set of extraordinarily fancy streamers that fluttered in the wind as I flew down the block as fast as my little feet could pedal? Those blue streamers were like the proverbial cherry on the hot fudge sundae! I felt so sassy and free...what fond memories. If only the exercise had ended on that delicious note.
While I was sitting in the lightness of my memory, Francis asked that each of us then shift our thoughts to the time in our childhood when our innocence was lost. Well, that took me about a nano second to identify, and I bet it didn't take you much longer to remember back to my busy travel schedule taking me back and forth to New York. I may seem casual as I mention it now, but as I sat at the retreat, listening to the directions, I felt almost sick to my stomach. Then I remembered that not one person at the retreat knew anything about my childhood days, so it might be possible for me to fade into the blandness of the walls and slip out at the end of the afternoon without being noticed. I quickly determined that I could mentally drop a veil over the depth of my feelings, like the invisibility cloak of Harry Potter, casually drawing a sketch with little or no emotional attachment...proving once again that old habits are indeed hard to break. However, this honesty was not about to be ignored or silenced!
With the gentle music playing, Francis invited each of us to breathe deeply and wait patiently for the image to emerge. Her next suggestion challenged me immediately because it seemed as though it had been crafted especially and exclusively for me. I almost believed that she may have been privy to my mental dialogue involving the possibility of a clock. She instructed us to trust the image that appeared, not judging it or changing it...merely sitting quietly with it while noticing the details.
I closed my eyes while trying to be open, calm and ready for a picture or impression to appear. I was immediately aware of the most accurate image. My initial fear encouraged me to quickly open my eyes, causing this specific image to disappear...but then I was reminded of the concept of trust. Was I ready for this degree of trust?? How could I ever remain in this room with all these people surrounding me while I would be attempting to sketch and get in touch with the feelings that this image evoked? I instinctively knew that now was the time to honor and trust the truth of this image, but how could I accomplish this? Picking up the markers and pencil, I noticed a heaviness seep into my heart as I felt the first gentle tear slide down my cheek.