What is this life if, full of care… #Retreat

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont/

On Wednesday I took a guided retreat day with Brian Draper. I don’t feel the need to share all of it, but despite the weather forecast, the rain held off from the minute we walked into the grounds of Mottisfont Abbey to the point at which we headed for hot chocolate (and without my mobile devices, so no checking in on Foursquare, or taking a photo of the magnificent building/grounds). Having just read Brian’s Less is More, been de-cluttering, and looking for better work-life balance (although I’ve often talked in terms of work-life integration), and worked through a lot of difficult stuff, I’m seeking to find what Brian describes as ‘making my soul sing’. 15 minutes on a bench with W.H.Davies poem …

What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. No time to stand beneath the boughs And stare as long as sheep or cows. No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass. No time to see, in broad day light, Streams full of stars, like skies at night. No time to turn at beauty’s glance, And watch her feet, how they can dance. No time to wait till her mouth can Enrich that smile her eyes began. A poor life this if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.

from Songs Of Joy and Others (1911)
Time to consider the well, without which none of the rest would exist … but which many bypass for the big showy rose gardens (it’s not all about how it looks/big showy events, but how deeply are you living day to day? was what I took from that)

mottisfont well

A look at The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working – how do I manage my energy – where is my renewal zone? Lots of pictures of colours seeking to burst forward, no longer squashed by many of the painful things that I’ve worked through recently.
I have re-joined The National Trust (slightly annoyingly, if I’d joined online beforehand, I would have got 3 months free, but it’s a charity, so…), so one of my challenges is to carve out time to go and sit in what will now become ‘my gardens’ (I don’t have one, and had got a bit ‘bored’ of the houses), whether to work or sit.

Taking a Fast from the Digital Life

I started writing quite an extensive blog post whilst sat in Zizzi’s in Manchester last Monday on the WordPress app on the iPhone, but although it indicates that there is a draft in the local folder, there’s nothing there to open – it was my first go at using the app, so if anyone can tell me what I’m doing wrong, I’d love to know!!

The Digital Day

On that day, a Monday on which I was having a day off in Manchester, I had considered the amount of digital data I had used by lunchtime….

  • iPhone: Alarm clock
  • Bible (YouVersion)
  • Calendar (to check the time of my flight later in the day)
  • Train timetable – what time did I need to leave to ensure time at the airport.
  • Weather (what did I need to wear?)
  • Tweets via Echofon, including photos
  • Contact with friends (inc the one I was meeting later) via Facebook (and emails)
  • Checking in at various locations with Foursquare and Gowalla (including adding new locations/photos)
  • Geocaching (do you know how much more difficult that is in the urbanised areas than in the countryside – had to sit on a bench awaiting the other 3 benches around me to empty out – thank goodness for Mancunian rain!)
  • Vouchercloud, to check out somewhere I could get a good meal (on my own) for lunch.
  • And then I was sat there tapping in a blog on WordPress, but that didn’t quite work….

And that’s just the digital stuff I knowingly use… our entire world runs on digital in many ways

Digital Fasting

I had already booked, post giving my Twitter Talk to OutThere to go to St Cuthman’s for a retreat – phone went off shortly after I arrived… I then realised I had to turn it on as it was my only alarm clock (despite breakfast available til 10am!) – I risked it without the following day. Occasionally I missed the opportunity to take a photo of something, or tweet about something, but without that, can start to look at the views, at sitting still, etc. differently… I’m not saying I want to be without my digital tools (I especially love my Twitter, Facebook & blogging!), but it was such a relief to turn my phone off and NOT be available to anyone else but me – and a big pile of books in the library (for the record: 5 fiction books, 3 non-fiction books, 3 chapters of Ortberg, and reading through from Amos to Matthew in The Message)… and some gentle walks, meals cooked for me, lots of sleep and a bit of art! I was ready to dive back into Twitter and Facebook when I got back online – as you can kind of deal with stuff then & there, but it’s the email which tends to hang around until dealt with – and often requires more thought! Short of deleting around 2000 emails when I got home, I still have a big pile to deal with…. I need to plan my next digital fast, so that the digital world remains enjoyable and appreciated!!