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Pure Joy


Recently, I spent the day at a nearby retreat center. Designed as a day of self-renewal, this Franciscan center on 70 acres offered solitude among beautiful oak trees, holistic bodily treatments (think sound healing and massage), nourishing meals, and spiritual guidance. My fellow participants and I met with a facilitator in the morning to talk about our lives and what we were seeking from the day. It was a cozy group. I came with curiosity, and a sense of being called, just at the right moment, to sign up.  I didn’t know what I was going to encounter, only that it would be something magical and wonderful.

I took advantage of all that the center had to offer, enjoying the presence of large trees, including “Grandmother Oak”, walking a soulful labyrinth, taking in massage and healing touch treatments, lying down before singing bowls, and reflecting in a journal.

While this was all wonderfully restorative, what brought me the most joy was something completely unexpected–a fully stocked art room, with big windows opening up to a wooded area. I spent time with a mix of materials. Pastels, acrylics, watercolors, bits of fabric, brass hooks, stiff pieces of veneer, multi-colored yarn, copper ribbon, shiny beads, and trim with soft colored balls. I felt like a kid again, immersed in the flow of play.

When the group convened at the end of the day, we shared the impact of the day. I immediately volunteered my experience of joy in the art room. I had no idea what I was making, nor am I a trained artist. I only knew that I wanted to play more, to enter into the mystery of co-creation, of expressing the unconscious, of being with pure joy. The day reminded me to play more.

How can you play more?  Leave a comment below.


  1. Loretta Huff on September 19, 2023 at 7:42 PM

    Perhaps the best part of having my 3-year-old grandsons 2 or 3 days a week, plus their big sister in the summer and during school holidays is playing. Yesterday and today, we roped the cow in the backyard (a really big tree), played with the Christmas train, saddled the dog with baby blankets, built a train out of everything on the deck that could be moved, put out multiple bowls of dog food in case any dog friends stopped by, had a tea party, cooked numerous meals of plastic food, and had indoor ski lessons where I was the chair lift. A wonderful balance to all the other things that need to get done.

    • Carol Ross on September 19, 2023 at 8:58 PM

      How wonderful to see the fun you are having with imagination and young children! Thanks for sharing what play time looks like for you.

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