Each year, people come to the Sorrento Centre on Shuswap Lake in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley to renew spirit, mind and body. They stand still — to listen to Bluegrass music, hone a craft, take in mountain vistas, learn from each other and more. Recently, writers, artists, academics, clergy and other professionals have started taking sabbaticals there.
Reading about Sorrento’s new sabbatical centre reminded us of Lynn Ungar’s poem Camas Lilies:
Consider the lilies of the field,
the blue banks of camas
opening into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the natives ground their bulbs
for flour, how the settlers’ hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?
And you — what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down —
papers, plans, appointments, everything —
leaving only a note: “Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming.”
Even now, unneeded and uneaten,
the camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake. Of course
your work will always matter.
Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.
“And you — what of your rushed and useful life”? Can you imagine setting your work down to do something different or nothing at all — for an hour, a day, a week, a month or a year? What’s stopping you?