Saturday, October 31, 2009

Laity Lodge

Last weekend I attended a very special retreat at Laity Lodge for the third year. Stephen Purcell, formerly of a retreat center in Austria called Schloss Mittersill, is now the director. Each year he has brought together Christian artists from around the world for four days of discussion and artistry in the most hospitable setting I know. This year singer-songwriter David Wilcox and cellist Jozef Luptak were guest musicians, David Dark the speaker, and Melissa Hawkins performed a one-person play. And that was just the beginnning. Many attendees read, sang, and contributed to the impromptu art exhibit.

As entertaining and thought-provoking as all this is, it is only a backdrop for the community that springs up, two or three people at a time.

The first person I met there was Doug -- he sat next to me at dinner the first evening. Doug had lovely long silver hair, and asked me almost immediately, "What's the best thing your church ever did for artists?" He was very intent, and I desperately wanted to say the right thing. "Hiring David Taylor" was all I could think of. Not the answer he was looking for, I'm sure. Over the course of the retreat, I kept thinking about his question and sitting next to him now and then, to see if we could talk more. He was pretty quiet.

One afternoon I wandered into the main lodge and happened upon a group of 5 or 6 guys passing around a guitar, taking turns playing their own songs. The retreat’s guest musician David Wilcox was among them. In fact, I recognized most of them as professional musicians. And there sat Doug. I hung around for bit watching this spontaneous community of artists enjoying each other. When the guitar came to Doug, he took it, and we all cracked up at his great little ditty about sighting Elvis.

On the last day of the retreat, at a time set aside for sharing, this quiet, humble guy choked up while telling us how healing these few days had been. He revealed that although he was an integral part of his church's worship and taught in a church-sponsored performing arts center, no fellow Christian had ever invited him to play a single song of his own. He vowed to move his guitar from the closet to a stand in the living room and start playing, not just working, again.

I remembered that the best thing our church did for artists was to invite us to play our own songs.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
Looking for the Lizard by Kate Van Dyke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at