“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” Georgia O’Keefe
“Befriending Wildflowers” was a two day art retreat which gave us time to “really see a flower” and to befriend some of the wildflowers who live on the slopes of the Qu’Appelle Valley. By spending time with the wildflowers on the hills, by painting and drawing the flowers that called to us, we came to know a few flowers more intimately.
We were so fortunate to be able to hold this retreat at the Qu’Appelle House of Prayer which is
nestled in the hills above Echo Lake. We painted under the shade of trees during the hot days, and hiked through woodland trails up to the top of the hills where grasses and flowers bloomed profusely in the early mornings and evenings. We were so warmly welcomed and cared for by Glenn, Margaret, Kathy and Tim. Silence and quiet are encouraged and allow us to connect with nature more deeply than usual. For those who wished, Eucharist and “silent sitting” enriched our experience. The Qu’Appelle House of Prayer is a sacred place.
While the land (and the flowers) were our greatest teacher(s), we also learned so much from each other. Our youngest participant, Kami Jo, led a session on creating cat flowers which was fantastic. Tania helped us draw flowers in their simplest shapes, getting to the essence of the flower, and helping us see flowers in fresh ways. We painted with dominant hand, non-dominant hand, standing, sitting, upside down, and we sometimes timed ourselves to get the feel of a flower rather than the details. We did flower yoga, and played flower charades, and did breathing exercises. We laughed frequently. We moved very slowly (to Kami Jo’s frustration). We called our unhurried pace “wildflower time”. We learned how painting on the ground in a meadow was a completely different experience from painting a vase of flowers.
Speaking for myself, It was pure joy to be with others who take notice and delight in wildflowers. Being with others who are totally absorbed in trying to get the feel of a particular flower on paper is very settling, calming and joyful. I saw wildflowers in new ways, and sometimes through the eyes of others, I saw familiar wildflowers in completely unfamiliar ways. I treasure my friendships with wildflowers – through the presence and teachings of my companions, my friendships continue to grow and thrive.
Once upon another PLAYshop, this one focusing on trees, hypnotizing chickens became the most fun thing to do. During our Befriending Flowers time, the most fun thing for Kami Jo was having the chance to drive Margaret in the golf cart! You have to scroll to the bottom for photos of that one.
I feel gratitude for the sacred place that is the Qu’Appelle House of Prayer, for the people that care for it, and for us; for the beautiful hills, grasses and wildflowers; and for each of those who took part so wholeheartedly!! Thank you.