At oceanside writing retreat


I’m away this week at a writing retreat that my workplace generously and graciously offers so that faculty to have time to write and to share in intellectual community (and fun) with one another. My project focuses on work on Plato and the imagination–Plato is often presented as opposed to poetry, imitation, and images, on the basis of some remarks in the Republic, and yet uses images frequently in his argumentation. In part because of my interest in imagination in Ignatian prayer, I’m delving more deeply into the relationship between the imagination, argument, knowledge, and moral concerns such as self-knowledge, knowing what you don’t know, and the limits of images.

My room faces the ocean so I can see the ocean as I read and work on my laptop. I love the ocean so it’s an incredible treat to work here. As I went for a run this morning, and took a break to sit by the ocean near a lighthouse and just watch the waves hit the rocks, I was reminded of my favorite retreat spot in Massachusetts, which is right on the beach. The retreat house is now closed for a couple of years for renovations. The last time I did my eight day silent retreat before it closed, I felt so sad to leave behind a place I knew that I could not return to again for a couple of years, at least. Everyone who goes there knows it’s a sacred space, often described as a “thin” place between heaven and earth, though I also find it “thick,” in a different way, richly layered with the traces of all the retreatants who have been there over years and decades.

Before I left, I walked down to a less rocky beach and put my feet in, to let the ocean wash over and “kiss” my feet. I felt God remind me that the ocean is available everywhere, not only in that same spot. Every time I go to the ocean, whether here in Maine, or anywhere else, I am reminded that the same ocean is always available. Same water, same ocean, new waves to splash over my feet. It reminds me that God’s love is like that, too—there are so many changes in life, but God’s love keeps coming back to find us, new waves, same love, over and over again.

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