It was super to be asked by Margaret Kerr to her inspiring place in Lenzie to work with her on this one day retreat combining meditation, outdoor walking and mindful practice with Shodo calligraphy. We began the day with a chat about the theme – the vast land and the great sky – and talked about the Chinese/ Japanese characters of Daichi and Tenkuu.
We then sat in a circle in the room to meditate together which was a nice peaceful way to get settled. We got ready to head outside for a short walk to the edge of the land to take in an open view of the hills and sky to the North, towards the Campsies. Margaret encouraged us to connect with space and sky through our various senses, including listening to the space, and using our sight, such as noticing the sky to the edges of our vision where we may not often be aware of. Then we found a spot each to sit or stand and have some personal time to take in the sky.
Taking this awareness inside, we first got a feel for the materials then we tried out the kanji for heavens 天 with the Japanese brushes and ink, a graceful dynamic shape! Blair did some demos giving tips on how to hold and move the brush and embrace the feeling of sky whilst working.
After lunch we went outside with Margaret leading us to the grove and helping us connect, touch and feel the great earth. It was amazing to sit there, looking and touching all the myriad of subtle textures and colours, and be grounded. It was quite different looking down this time, and taking in the small things.
We took this earthy feel back inside to work on the kanji chi 地 for ground which is quite a tectonic geographical looking shape with the interlocking brushstrokes! It was a bit chilly but we put on our warm hats and scarves and headed outside the workshop for some large calligraphy pieces. There was a demo first of the characters and then folk enjoyed some freedom with the substantial large old fude brushes (kindly passed onto Blair from his calligraphy master Ojiiichan ‘Granpa’, Shujo Wakabayashi). Great to see the group energetically working on their big pieces.
It was a fun finish to the day, working with great earth and vast sky directly outside on the grass by the birch trees. Margaret then brought us together for a short moment to reflect on the day.