For many, many years it was the Glorieta Christian Writer’s Conference. It’s the place over ten years ago where I went through the process of deciding how I needed to incorporate my faith in the writing I was doing. (See the writing testimony on my website at www.terryburns.net)
Now it is still put on by CLASServices but it is at a place called The Ghost Ranch up above Santa Fe nestled in a box canyon in some of the most amazingly beautiful country you ever saw. The movie “City Slickers” was filmed there which would give you an idea, or as soon as Saundra has time to get them ready I’m going to put some pictures up on my website. But this is the place where Georgia O’Keefe lived and did the bulk of her painting, so that should tell you about the beauty of the place.
Sweater or Jacket cool in the morning and evening, the temperature was perfect during the day. It was a laid back conference, without cell phone acess and limited internet which I found very inconvenient . . . for about an hour . . . then I discovered how much that was going to enhance the retreat experience. A writing conference is one thing, but a writing retreat is yet another.
The program and content was excellent and because of the retreat environment the faculty and attendees were in constant contact, sharing ideas getting to ask all the questions that was on their mind. Many of the attendees were very new writers, which I found to be delightful. Their enthusiasm and dreams helped set the tone for the conference. Of course this conference has always been not only a tune up for our writing but a tune up for our soul as well and the praise and worship content fit right in with the retreat format.
Everyone I talked to was leaving refreshed and renewed. It is true that it takes a travel committment to get there, driving or flying into Albuquerque and being shuttled out. That remoteness is what makes a retreat format work and for those who were mentally prepared for it provided a decompression time to get into the retreat attitude.
They prevailed upon me to read a little cowboy poetry at the campfire session (along with some folks singing some great gospel music) and although I don’t consider myself a poet by any stretch of the imagination it did put me in a mood to write a new one about the experience:
Brilliant colors on the mesa, morning sun just lights it up
as I sit in the quiet to take it in with my morning coffee cup.
Animals stir all around, as they have all through the night
but as people arise they begin to fade back away from sight.
A gentle breeze it stirs the leaves with a sound like falling rain
and the leaves on the ground answer back with an echoing refrain.
The Ghost Ranch calls us back, fore we’ve even had time to go,
or bids us stay as we pack our bags still warming in the glow
of a time with friends both old and new, sharing words and sharing souls;
refreshing spirits and strengthening hearts where the world has taken toll.
It’s been a trip to an earlier time, a slower pace for sure,
the time to reflect and to learn new things, write words we hope will endure.
It’s been a time of quiet reflection, a time to take it in…
the stark beauty God crafted here, a time to newly begin
to set our feet on a brand new path or redirect our minds
in a manner we came and hoped to do, though of many different kinds
of people, ways and dreams to fill and now with different goals;
formed and nourished through this time in many different souls.
The conference sends us forth with hope while it also calls us back
to finish with the things we start . . . and give us what we lack.
11/8/2009 Terry Burns
Folks, put this one on your list for next year . . . it’s a great experience! You can find out more at the CLASServices website http://classeminars.org/Events/Writers-Conference/