Letters: An open invitation
Come to me today beautiful ones and breathe.
Breathe, just breathe.
This residency arrived on the eighth year of my time in this place. The end of a seven year cycle that began as an escape that became a creative retreat which turned into a spiritual adventure and continues to be the story of a raw, most visceral homecoming. I feel it is now time to open the doors to the internal workings of a modern day monastery formed from shadows of a memory of Charleston House and the dust of a thousand years of sacred places.
When I sketched on a piece of paper the feelings surrounding that sense of calling on a warm spring day many years ago, a heart inside a house inside a mountain was the nearest I could get to an approximation of the deep and tonal beat that was telling me to find my place on this earth. To find that place and make peace with myself. Find that place and dig in.
The roots. It’s in the roots.
The fire at the foot of the mountain.
The refugi residency is something new to me. Something new and old. A she-bear waking from a warm, winter bed. Tentative and strong. I know it and yet here we are at that stage of dancing where the new partners face each other for the first time. The old habits of doubt begin to circle and I wonder if someone else has said it better than this before.
Should I try to emulate an Artist’s Residency and then try to explain why this is not that? It is of that, and it is not.
It finds it roots in the traditions of gathering in the spirit of a place. The homes of artists. The foundations of a church. The hermit monks with flaming torches who came together in divine inspiration and action to raise monasteries from the earth. The homestead women of the americas building homes and the first stones of communities in far away, isolated places. The old stories of desert mothers and cave dwellers. Heretics and mystics and pirates. The bear, the wolf and the lamb.
Open the doors. Open the doors to the forest.
Sit in rapture.
I have had my fair share of visitors to the mountain over the years and now is the time to invite the next reveal. To say I am here. I am ready. To invite you to be in this place over the seasons; the comings and goings of humans need time and space to settle and see clarity from once muddy waters.
The residency runs all year round with no single intake date. It is an ongoing salon. If it calls to you, it is time. You become a member of the household and share the kitchen, eat at the table and sit by the fire. We give each other space and come together as the experience takes us. There are gardens to tend and pathways to sweep. Animals to care for. An art studio and workshop. A barn to raise, a founders hall to take form and a cathedral to build.
Put on your robes.
A gathering of souls in a quiet mountain place. Deep in practice. It is a sangha. A group who remind each other of the path when one amongst us has lost our way. An exercise in Dharma. An exercise in love and living. Dedicated to art, beauty and truth.
We cook, we eat, we clean. We sweep, we write, we walk. We spend time together by the fire and make art. We pray, we sit, we sleep. We grow vegetables. We visit the market. We love our neighbours and greet them with a kiss. We swim in the rivers and lie in the sun. We read, we spend time under trees and by waterfalls. We walk the boundaries of this place, every footstep a prayer for protection and healing.
This is holy ground.
And when we are ready, when our time in the womb of the earth leaves us feeling ripe and replenished, we go out into the world changed. We look into the eyes of strangers and see only ourselves. We learn and we love and we live.
Grace. The goal is sublime grace.
Grace in the hills and gardens.
Grace is the fire at the foot of the mountain.
Emma Wallace, Winter 2017/2018
I am the fiery life of the essence of God; I am the flame above the beauty in the fields; I shine in the waters; I burn in the sun, the moon, and the stars. And with the airy wind, I quicken all things vitally by an unseen, all-sustaining life.”
― Hildegard of Bingen