Inaugural PathNorth & Laity Lodge Creativity Weekend
October 28-31, 2010
Dear PathNorth Members,
Earlier this year we introduced the idea of PathNorth Experiences being “place holders” in our lives. It is our belief that these Experiences create time and space for us to recharge, build meaningful relationships and seek guidance with others who are on a parallel journey. By committing to taking part in one or two (or more!) of these Experiences, we commit to making ourselves available to be touched, to grow, and to experience life more deeply.
The Inaugural PathNorth & Laity Lodge Creativity Weekend more than confirmed this theory. There were numerous parts of this gathering that were planned, however the most amazing discoveries, lessons and transformations occurred spontaneously, simply because we took time to step out of our comfort zones to just experience.
On Thursday evening, we were graciously welcomed not only by unseasonably warm weather, but also by a spectacular sunset as we enjoyed cocktails on the Chesapeake Bay. After feasting on a fabulous meal provided by Osprey Point Retreat and Conference Center, we feasted on the words of poetry workshop leader, Olga Samples Davis, the vibrato from gifted cellist, Jozef Luptak, and the inspired strings from Julliard violinist, Stephen Clapp. As the evening wore on, we settled in to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones.
Early Friday morning, coffee in hand, some headed to the chapel for morning reflections led by Laity Lodge’s Steven Purcell and Jozef Luptak. Steven shared the poem Leisure by Michael O’Siadhail. The group discussed living in the tension of work and rest, the societal pressure to fill our schedules and our lives in order to get ahead and the importance of slowing down and cultivating a grateful heart. Steady and tranquil draws from the bow of Jozef’s cello underscored the significance of these conversations.
The next tour guide to lead our creative journey was author and cartoonist Tim Downs, who opened with a laugh-out-loud personal story of youth, idleness and a large container of quick-dry plaster. Needless to say – you had to be there for that one. Tim reminded us to “own our weirdness” while we discover and cultivate our unique styles of creativity. Our creative juices flowed freely as workshops began that day. We dispersed to write poetry, paint, cook and create a film with the common goal to stretch beyond our creative boundaries.
Later that day, we were treated to business leadership Shakespeare-style! Ken and Carol Adelman from Movers and Shakespeare brought not only Shakespeare’s wisdom of how to run effective organizations but they also brought corsets, tights, long bows and swords! After dinner, attendees became thespians in a fully-costumed presentation of Shakespeare’s greatest prose and keen humor.
On Saturday we were grateful to hear from four visionaries who define and demonstrate creativity in unique and innovative ways. Stephen Clapp, former head of the Julliard School of Music; Philippe Cousteau, environmentalist and co-founder of EarthEcho International; and Catherine Tatge and Dominique Lasseur, husband and wife team documentary film makers – all shared with us where they have been the most creative in their lives. A unifying theme emerged around the willingness to be uncomfortable and to embrace fear and risk, in order to produce a creative and rewarding result.
That evening, at a reception hosted by Doug and Ann Holladay at their home nearby, the cooking students displayed with pride what they had prepared in their workshop. Their mission: transform a bag of seemingly unrelated ingredients into sumptuous treats. The result: deliciously unique hors d’oeuvres outshined only by creative and original titles such as Osprey Oyster and Peter’s Pear Pleasure. With a backdrop of jazz talent Bill Edgar playing piano and another magical sunset, it was truly a memorable evening.
Once our bodies had been filled, our minds were challenged to think like Leonardo daVinci. Michael Gelb, historian and author of best-selling books such as How to Think Like daVinci and Innovate Like Edison, used the true creative genius of daVinci to encourage the group to accept the unknown and the ambiguous, to be receptive, to tap into our intuition and to surround ourselves with beauty. One sure example of this beauty personified was the voice of Mezzo-Soprano Debbie Domanski, who closed the presentation with a graceful, perfectly pitched melody.
The film workshop participants rounded out the night’s activities with a screening of Creativity Weekend: The Movie; as they experienced it through the lenses of flipcams. It was as much a documentary as a comedy, and it was fabulous! Two days, nine students and hours of editing from film-makers and workshop leaders
Catherine and Dominique produced a film with candid reflections, extraordinary exchanges and laughter served up PathNorth-style!
We spent our last morning together recreating elementary school days with a full-scale show and tell. The painting workshop displayed original works of art and the poetry workshop presented an impromptu call and response combining the hum of Jozef Luptak’s cello with personal poems from the group. After each “part-time poet” read their poem, with a common line being “I am from…”, Josef responded. At times Jozef transformed the strings of his cello to replicate the rhythm of a banjo and other times Bach’s Mass in B minor. It was truly breathtaking. Especially through these moving poems, the opportunity to step a bit further out of our comfort zones to gain new perspective and meaning in life was powerfully embraced.