Theme of Restoration
Last Friday, following a client meeting, I went on an “artist date” to the Carl Sandburg home in Flat Rock, NC. I have spent a handful of afternoons in this special place in the past, but it was the first time that I took the opportunity to go on a tour of the on-site family home. I did not know when I went to inquire about the tour that the house was actually empty for the first time in it’s almost fifty years of being under the care of the park service, undergoing a restoration process. I found this funny and almost bailed but then thought, why not, it could be interesting to see the bones of the house. I am so glad that I did.
I spend a good bit of time thinking about the theme of restoration for myself and my clients. It is the lead core value of the work we engage in on our Birds Eye retreats. And when I am talking about restoration with business owners I often use the metaphor of emptying ourselves and our businesses of all of its existing inventory to the best of our ability. It is as if you are cleaning out the shelves of an emporium and then, sitting in as much stillness as possible, you determine what deserves to be restocked. So, when entering the empty Carl Sandburg home I was most fixated on the empty shelves that lined every single room of the 9000 square foot home, excluding the bathroom and kitchen. These shelves had been housing Sandburg’s 17,000 book collection for the past 70 years or so. My tracks stopped to be able to scan the warping of each board. I was acknowledging how the very structure had been altered as a result of carrying such weight for so long. It led me to reflect on the ever-unfolding human tale, and the toll of its weight on the structure that carries it. How an inner and outer warping occurs over time. Mentally, physically, emotionally.
Here is the backside of the house at Folly Beach that Birds Eye inhabits for our women retreats, this fall will be our fourth time there. The side that endures the wind and the salt. I love returning to a place in which you have spent long periods of time in contemplation in the past. Part of my own restoration process, each time we return, is to tune into how the elements have conspired to work on the house, and its surroundings, since our last visit. This week, amidst the possibility of damage from sustained winds and surging water from the most recent hurricane, and concern for all directly affected, I am even more curious what is being etched into our home away from home. And as I recollect my time last Friday, I wonder how I can show up even more empty on this retreat, like those shelves in Carl Sandburg’s home. I am hoping that in this space, while traversing the warping boards of the dock, I can let my own weathering shelves (bones-brain-heart) delight in a break from labor, while refortifying for the inherent restocking.
I wrote down these simple words of Carl Sandburg while spending time amidst that landscape he held dear, “Nothing happens unless first a dream”. Maybe in this space, that between the emptying and the restocking, lie the gifts of reflection on the displaced contents and their worth, from which we can rekindle and ignite the dream again. Offering these retreats at Folly started out as a dream, and a leap of faith, to integrate the worlds of “business planning” and “adventures”. These days when I daydream about the future of Birds Eye, a red barn often appears, as odd as that may sound. I am taking note of how they are showing up during my field days. I was significantly struck by a particular one a few months ago outside of Joseph, Oregon during our Alpine retreat, and this past Friday time spent at Lillian Sandburg’s large red barn (home to her prize-winning goats) reconnected me to this dream. And so, in November while back at the beach I plan to sit with this red barn vision. But between now and then, I will be devoting time to the emptying of the shelves necessary to see what type of structure is needed to support the weight of this dream.