I wrote "The Feast" at the end of a 4-day writing seminar held on a river boat on the Missouri River. We were told to write in any format on a topic of our choice. This was mine:
I sit watching the grayish-green river flow past me, dipping and spinning to the rhythm of the gentle breeze and slight current as it moves. I watch, transfixed, and feel something inside me stirring as well. I am alone, yet part of a curious mix of people who belong to a single tribe...a tribe of writers. We have come together to share a weekend pursuing our love/hate relationship with words...loving the finished piece, hating the struggle.
We gather together as one group, but there is space in our togetherness, and respect for each other's need for quiet and alone time. Especially our need for quiet, increasingly hard to find in our daily lives. But here, in this little chunk of time I have carved out for myself, I greedily devour and savor my time alone, where my thoughts can bubble up and simmer like a soup pot on the stove. I am hungry, and eagerly throw all my ingredients into the pot, then gradually make adjustments, tasting, stirring, adding a pinch of this and a dash of that, until finally, the flavors blend into something rich and delicious. My creation is different than what I set out to make, but I decide it's even better because it followed its own natural evolution.
I am satisfied, and eager to share it with the others, even though I fear their reaction. What if they don't like it... if they find it bland and unappealing? Or worse yet, what if they don't even try it, deciding at first glance that it's not worth their time or effort? Yet I know I have to take that risk, because if I don't, what is the point of my creation?
So I set it out there, on the buffet table, along with all the other dishes my fellow chefs have created. The aromas from all that we have prepared mingle harmoniously together, like our unique personalities. No single dish dominates; they are each important to create a full meal. I eat heartily from each offering, aware of the subtle variations of taste and texture. I also recognize and appreciate the efforts put forth in these creations, and marvel at the many forms of expression displayed: poems, essays, memoirs, satire, and song.
We are many, and varied in every way possible, but I am struck by the universal feelings that emerge from the work. Our hunger for love and acceptance is raw and palpable.
I am full. I am content. And as I leave my weekend retreat, I know that what I have experienced here will continue to nourish me for a long time to come.