Blue Ridge MtsBeen on a roadtrip the last two weeks. Not the Jack Kerouac kind of booze and acid On the Road trip, just a free ranging ramble around Western North Carolina with a quick shot east to Raleigh and its environs. What an experience on so many levels amidst sooooo much green. Spring was everywhere including creeks become torrents and dam spillways boiling as never before according to those familiar with the annual patterns of Lake Susan, a prominent landmark at the Montreat Conference Center.

Montreat is the site of the Annual Recreation Workshop (ARW), a conference like no other I’ve ever participated in! This year’s very capable director, and gracious hostess, Beth Gunn, invited me to lead a pre-conference art workshop for staff, facilitate a four-day hands-on morning art workshop on healing and transformation, and host four afternoon “variety pack” workshops where participants made a “tree of life” from re-purposed painted water bottles. And of course, there were three wonderful meals each day, creative, inspiring worship each morning, and hilarious, noisy, fun-filled convocations and parties in the evening. Let’s just say I never made it to the late night dancing led by Beth’s 86 year old father, Glenn Bannerman. Nor did I ever hear my fabulous roommate Mary slip in our room at the stroke of midnight each night. Dead to the world, I was one tired but content cookie.

I didn’t take me long to figure out that many of the participants were frequent repeat attendees of ARW who shared long-time friendships with other participants. And it didn’t make me long to figure out that there were some seriously creative, spiritually mature folks participating, many of whom had taught significant workshops at prior ARWs. AND it didn’t take me long to realize I’d stumbled into a candy store, and because of my schedule, I wasn’t going to be able to taste any of it. Let’s just say the wistful phrase “serious deprivation” came to mind. There were workshops on batik, stained-glass windows, innovatice out-door recreation, assemblage, and dulcimer making, just to name a few.

But the creativity always spilled over to the evening events, none better than the 60th ARW birthday party on Wednesday evening. One hasn’t lived until you’ve made marbleized paper with shaving cream and liquid watercolors, especially the leftover colored shaving cream that been wiped off on the plastic bag lining the trash can. Quickly known as dumpster dying, it often produced more interesting subtle hued results. However, my favorite creative activity was the newspaper hat salon staffed with by several millinery geniuses, especially Deb Guess. After seeing several creations worthy of Ascot, My Fair Lady, or the Kentucky Derby, I was ready to sit still while three sheets of newsprint splayed atop my head were securely taped around my crown forming a comfortable bowl from which to fold and fan a stylishly, if somewhat sedate, concoction.

Paper HatA prized piece of creativity, my newspaper hat traveled east with me to visit two of our grandsons in Raleigh the following Saturday. My son-in-law Kevin, who pastors a small country church in Sanford, NC, called mid-morning on Mother’s Day to tell me that it was Hat Day at church encouraging me to wear my unique accessory to church. Since there is a certain eccentric cache a grandmother artist must maintain, I cocked my newspaper hat at a rakish angle and headed for worship. The hat was a great hit. One young mother knelt next to me, told me how much she loved my hat, said she was a home schooling mom, and was going to made newspaper party hats with her kids next week!

There’s nothing like taking creativity on the road! You never know where it’s gonna take you.  

Have you ever attended a conference, or some kind of function, that was considerably different than you expected? What did you bring to that experience? And what did you take home from it?

Welcome to my weekly blog on art, healing and transformation to all those I shared the week with at Montreat’s ARW conference. Pass this link on to your friends and family encouraging them to subscribe on the Feedburner feature in the upper right corner of the website.

7 comments to Roadtrip

  • I know that you and your workshops were a great gift to the conference and it was fun to see you jump feet first with all your creativity… such a fun week… can’t always say it is restful 🙂 but always spiritually renewing!! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Deb Guess

    Lynne- I love the photo of you in your newspaper hat at church and enjoyed reading about your adventures among us at ARW and beyond. I currently have your two books sitting beside me in my chair looking for an art idea to adapt from them to use in a piece of curriculum I am developing for Montreat. Art is truly the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it? Thanks again for all you shared with us – I only wish I lived in your neck of the woods or you in mine so we could connect more often. I think we could very well be kindred spirits trapped on opposite sides of the country!! Glad you made it home safely.

  • Lynn

    WHAT a gift YOU were to this year’s workshop! And what a treat it was to sit at your feet! Please come back again! ARW has so much more to learn from YOU!
    ARW blessings –

  • Susie Coffman

    The gift was to those of us who had the opportunity to spend time with you. I learned much about myself in your classes and through your activities. Insightful and invigorating!

  • Lynne – what a joy to spend the week with you. When I met you in January 2012 I KNEW I wanted your presence at ARW when it was my turn to direct……your gifts of depth, art, joy, reflection and soulful digging – I knew we would benefit from all of these. AND I am so glad that you jumped in with both feet and didn’t hold back participating in any aspect of the conference. Folks really enjoyed your leadership and presence. AND very happy that you took some ideas home with you – that is always a joy when I travel to teach – finding things that I can use as I continue to share my gifts with other. Sure hope it isn’t your one and only ARW!!

  • Sharron Luft

    The angel-side of me is praising our Lord for giving me a long-standing friendship with you, Lynne, my art and writing amiga! My less-than-angel side is jealous that I wasn’t with you for the joyuous week in North Carolina. Could it be that it’s time for a California grace-love-fellowship art gathering with our grand, fun and talented Lynne?

  • The hat is the greatest! Creativity is God’s true gift to us….one of them.

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