On Saturday, I scheduled a cab from one of the companies that had been recommended. The driver was on time, and got me to the workshop early again. I again waited for another writer to appear, only this time she had a familiar face and I knew her name. I was beginning to feel as if I belonged.
We had all signed up for a half hour of private coaching with one of the writing instructors, and since I had been at the end of the circle, when the schedule got to me, I discovered that if I wanted my coaching session early in the workshop, I would have to sign up for the second coach, so I did, and I met with her early on Saturday morning. We sat outside on the patio beside the fountain under a perfect sunny sky, and the first thing she told me was "It's obvious that your faith plays a big part in who you are." I knew from the first writing she shared that she had grown up Jewish, but the gentle way she said this enabled me to relax back into being myself, and I thought of Pope Francis advising us to accept people where they are and it seemed as if she were living that out. That empowered me to do the same for everyone else on the retreat and learn to listen on a deeper level.
She asked if I were wedded to making my book a novel, and I told her that it had just seemed like the right format, but that every time I tried to write about some aspect of my life as a widow, I ran into a brick wall or a dead end. Her suggestion was to take the Prayers of Reminiscence, some of which I had shared and use them as links in the book and let them guide me into the structure. After my session, I first felt as if I had cracked open the shell that was imprisoning me, but later as we were doing our after-lunch free dancing, I realized that what I was experiencing on a deeper level was more like swimming up out of deep water so that I can breathe and see more clearly, and that sense of freedom enabled me to write differently and just experiment with where the various writing prompts were taking me.