A beautiful day in paradise

Sitting on a cushioned bench, back against a brick wall, journal on the table to my side, cup of coffee at hand, I watched a man walk through the coffee shop and say "Good morning" to the barista. "Good morning," the barista replied, "It's another beautiful day in paradise."

It certainly is a beautiful day in paradise.

The paradise in which I currently find myself is Santa Fe, New Mexico. The heat and humidity of Minneapolis have been exchanged for the dry warmth of the high desert. Not permanently exchanged. Just a ten-day exchange. It's paradise here not just because of the weather, however, but because the reason for being here is providing some leaven for my mind and soul. (The fact that I don't have to cook or clean or do laundry for ten days may also be a small contributing factor to the paradise quality of the experience.)

I'm here for some writing classes. Actually, I'm here to start the Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) program in Creative Writing through Seattle Pacific University. Yes, it's confusing that I am in Santa Fe to take courses from a Seattle school. Let me explain: The program is a low-residency program, requiring two ten-day intensive sessions on-site with faculty per year. The residency is scheduled for Santa Fe so that it can be held somewhat concurrently with The Glen Workshop, which is also sponsored by Seattle Pacific University and Image Journal. The Glen is in Santa Fe, by tradition. The Glen is a fabulous conference held every year for visual artists of all kinds. I attended last year and took a spiritual writing track taught by Lauren Winner.

This MFA program is a new program that "seeks to extend the tradition of Christian writing in which the highest levels of art, an open-eyed exploration of human experience, and a respect for transcendent mystery are all held in a proper balance" [program website]. What distinguishes it from other MFA programs is "its focus on the relationship between literature and faith, its integration of the spiritual disciplines, and the reading of literary classics of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the curriculum." I'm very excited to be in this program's inaugural class.

While I'm here I'm not sure if and how much I'll be posting to this weblog. I feel a need to take a break from as much routine as possible and totally immerse myself in what is happening here and now. On the other hand, I also feel a desire to pass on some pearls of insight and enlightenment generously being shared in the classes. I'm not sure yet which route I'll take: cybersilence or brief sharing. Maybe it will be some of both.