Stories from Gotland summer days

I August a few of us went to the island of Gotland, the big island in the middle of the Baltic. The Dominican brothers have a little house on the countryside, a simple place with not much commodities. A place to spend time alone, or to make simple retreats. Perhabs we can call it that, what we did during five days in August– prayers in the morning and evening, then some workshop exercices. Afternoon we biked to the sea, went swimming and relaxed. Every day we read a part of Jesus Today, a book that perhabs will appear on our Monday evenings later this autumn. We also had nice meals together and sat talking in the evenings.
Here´s our tales from those days.

“Do you have expectations for this week?” was the question asked when driving to Gotland on that nice August evening.
Difficult to say. One always carries pictures gathered from former experiences to fill the void of what is still unknown, until meeting with the new reality makes them vanish. So I was probably expecting on Gotland something similar to my previous “island” experiences.
But those five days evoked more the generous quietness of summer holidays at my grandmother´s than the visceral meeting with the wild forces of nature.
Maybe it is what remains now of this stay – the growing awareness that those both poles exist within me, too. And in my inner ocean a new island offers henceforth its harbour to the perpetually migrating bird.
One thing I would like to recall from the retreat.
Br Björn gave us  an assignment to create a sculpture from clay. “Where are you now?” – he asked – “Please, model something from clay that reflects your present state.” Where are you now? The time was very short – half an hour or so. Later we presented and discussed those sculptures. Of course, all of them were very different – every sculpture was unique. Recently some time after retreat I thought about this question and our answers to it. And it appeared interesting to me that even though we stayed on the same island, at the same place, lived in the same house, shared the same food from one table… and still we all were in different places, in other dimensions. Those sculptures revealed it clearly. However, they also opened a part of ourselves to one another. For me it was a big discovery to saw these other unexpected worlds. And I am thankful to my friends for such an opportunity to be a part of their worlds for short while on that Gotland island.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Taras
In the middle of August, five people met together in order to ‘retreat’ away from their everyday life, to rest, to discover beauties of the island Gotland, to get to know each other, and to get closer to the Highest. I was one of them.
Five people, different ages, different personalities, some students, some researchers, some already working, people at different stages of their lives, people at different stages of their ‘spiritual journey’. Can this work?
This were my thoughts when we were sitting in a car on Tuesday afternoon on the way from Lund to Oskarshamn where we took the ferry to Visby, a capital of Gotland,  and then to the far north of Gotland.
The place was lovely. A cottage in the middle of green-grey nostalgic Nordic nature, rich in plants and animals of different type, from mosses to apple trees, from sheep to mosquitoes. A lot of them…
I enjoyed very much biking around, bathing in the sea, admiring the nature…
…but most of all I enjoyed just being with my companions. During cooking, eating, praying, meditations, modeling the clay and talking about our ‘sculptures’. I admired observing the slow process of putting away the psychological masks that we build in a stupid effort  to protect our egos. With the time, we got to know each other better and maybe even ourselves and the Creator…
…and suddenly it is time to go back. Everybody carrying her/his own piece of clay in the backpack, continuing the ‘life before’. Or is it a different life, the life after?
Thank you , br Björn, thank you Karen, Nolwenn and Taras (in alphabetical order)
Gotland was a more unusual name.
As we approached
At this wonderful island
The landscape changed, and the desire grew.
The sea and sky
Confused, but sun-lit
All the things tell us about the beauty of creation
And mixing
Songs Prayers, walks, and working
The Good Lord
It was showing their love
By giving us spectacular sunny days,
Colors in the landscape that cannot be imagined
Even a night with so many stars that could not be counted
And someone can saw a falling star
But to each one the Free Radical Jesus spoke to  heart.

A violent sky . At the horizon dark clouds, closer there are some dramatic clouds and the blue sky. There is a wind and the sea looks dangerous. And beautiful! And there is Nolwenn swimming, and Taras and Milan further out. Karen is a little dot at the shore, looking down- for precious stones?
Interesting. A totality of passing moments, new angles, surprising expressions and crazy jokes. Life is crazy I guess. A crazy prayer!  Thrown out in the windy sea, rain approaching. An astonishing view and some people together –swimming.
br Björn


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