Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Piece of Heaven

I am a writer. At least I'm aspiring to be.

I had never really thought about writing-- my talent was music-- until I was in high school. I actually had never even considered myself a reader. But as I look back on it, my elective classes were Western Lit, English Lit, Ethnic Lit, and so on (ok, too much back story). So, in my Western Lit class, my teacher would give us these creative writing assignments. I did the assignments and he started raving about my writing.

That planted the seed.

Fast forward 15 years. I had this little thought in the back of my head that said, "I want to write." Then another thought would come, "I don't know what to write about." and that was it. Then my dad (just out of the blue-- I think not) gave me a guide to young writers book. I skimmed through the book (because that is what I do with textbooks), and saw something that stuck with me.

Just start writing!

So I did.

I started that first paragraph and all of a sudden the flood gates opened and ideas began pouring out. I've realized that writing is very enjoyable and gives me a great sense of satisfaction. It makes me happy.

So I've been writing off and on. Some months I go writing crazy and then other months are more related to a famine.

One great thing I've done is join ANWA (American Night Writers Association). It's a writing group for LDS Women. We have chapter meetings every month and it has helped me keep the writing bug burning.

Well, last month I found out they were having a 4 day retreat. For some reason, I felt an extreme need to go to this retreat. I mean I actually felt the Spirit telling me that I needed to go.

"With the economy the way it is..." isn't that the saying? Anyway, I was worried I wouldn't make it. But after much prayer, a way opened up for me to register.

So, this past week I went to the 2010 ANWA Writing Retreat and IT WAS AWESOME!!

Not only was it a much needed break from the kids and stresses of daily life and not only did I finish 5 chapters of my book, it was surprisingly a very spiritual experience.

I didn't realize it, but I needed this spiritual and emotional break. It's something that I have difficulty explaining. Yes, I spent lots of time writing, (which makes me very happy), but I spent four days basking in the Spirit. I did not have any negative feelings or frustrations the entire time I was there. I did not feel stressed at all! There were 30 women attending and I found myself in company with the most positive and uplifting people I know.

They were kind, accepting, loving and understanding toward me and each other. I felt a camaraderie and unity that I haven't felt in very many other places. I kept thinking, "Oh, this is what it feels like to have the Holy Ghost as your constant companion." You know, without all of life's frustrations and stresses chasing it away all of the time.

I've decided that I tasted a bit of heaven. I thought about the Law of Consecration. We had this snack table, where everyone brings a treat or snack to share. It was overflowing! I wish I had a picture. During the week, if we were hungry, we'd just go to the snack table. There were no rich snackers or poor snackers...just equal snackers.

I'm sure it sounds silly, but it made an impression. Everyone brought what they had and shared. Also, we signed up to help prepare one meal and to help clean up. With 30 people, everyone did their part and the burden was light. Each person was able to choose what they would contribute. This meant that I did not have to do dishes or mop the floor (which made me almost as happy as writing). I did the laundry, which really is my favorite chore.

When the rain came in and began flooding the cabin, everyone jumped up to help in various ways. Some were outside bailing water from the basement, while others were making hot cocoa for those getting wet. We were all working together.

Now this is the doctrine of Andrea... but when I think about the Law of Consecration, or living in heaven itself, I think that we all have talents and abilities that we will share for the good of the community. We'll all place our "goods" at the table so that everyone may benefit. Maybe one will cook, while another teaches the children. Maybe someone will be the community doctor while people like me put on musical concerts in the evening.

Maybe I won't be the one organizing or decorating all of the mansions in heaven (my mom would be great at that), but I might write some music or stories that uplift others. I don't think there will be much need for doing laundry in heaven, but I'm sure we'll all contribute in our own way.

It sure sounds heavenly doesn't it?


Shannon said...

when I heard you were able to go off on your own and do this for YOURSELF I was so excited for you. good for you! I love how we all have different but great passions and talents. Makes being friends so exciting. How boring would it be if we all did the same things.

Jen said...

What a great experience. I'll be first in line to buy your book! :)

Sara said...

Sweet, sweet, sweet! Thanks for sharing, Andrea!

Greg & Anna said...

I want your book! You're very inspiring to all of us! Thanks for sharing about your weekend. It sounded like Heaven....what every mother needs to feel on a daily basis. Sure love you!


Valerie Ipson said...

Wow, such an awesome and beautiful tribute to the writer's retreat! It got me teary-eyed! Would you mind if this was submitted to the ANWA newsletter? I'll email you.

Melinda said...

Hey, I just became a follower of your blog. It was nice to meet you at the retreat. You're thoughts about it were awesome. It really was a great experience, wasn't it?

Jennifer Griffith said...

Oh, I just love this. I laughed, I cried, it was better than *Cats.* Great writing, Andrea! I can tell you have the soul of a writer. I look forward to reading more of your posts and more of your writing.

I am glad you posted about this in this way. I had felt like that about the spiritual feeling there, and expressed that to my husband but it seemed weird. Glad I'm not alone in that feeling! The retreat was AWESOME!

Oh, and I"m glad I realized I hadn't followed your blog yet. Yay! I'm here!

Joyce DiPastena said...

Oh, Andrea, I love that phrase, "There were no rich snackers or poor snackers--just equal snackers!" I never would have thought of using our snack table as a representation of the law of consecration, but what an apt and beautiful analogy! Loved your blog post, and LOVED meeting YOU at the ANWA retreat!

Carroll said...

Thank you for capturing the spirit of the retreat. I felt the same way--and I had a couple of breakthroughs on the novel I'm currently writing.

Can't get better than that.

Krista Darrach said...

Well said. It was a great time and you're awesome to post this. I agree 100%! See you soon.