My Two Nights on a Hermitage Retreat.

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No electricity.
No plumbing.
No clock.
All wonderful.
I spent Monday afternoon through Wednesday morning in a space called Pacem in Terris, a spiritual retreat center in central Minnesota. Its roots are in the Catholic tradition and its doors are wide open. My seminary offered students a blessed discount rate for this experience and after discussing the opportunity with my wife, I elected to go. I’m so grateful to her for saying “Yes, and…” to this one. She elected to hold down the fort at home so I could try to surprise myself and be open to God surprising me, too.
What follows is a brief reflection on my hermitage experience. It’s stream-of-consciousness style and just as much about my processing the experience as it is hoping to entice you to try such an experience. Whichever reason shows through clearest, I hope you’ll enjoy. Stick around for a gallery of photos at the bottom of the post and you can click each photo for a much larger version and then scroll through them. You can also click any of the photos in this post for larger versions.
What Got Me There.
I needed a break. I’d been in full-time classes for six months straight. My supervisor is on sabbatical so I’ve

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“First Thing Monday” Begins Tomorrow.

First Thing Monday

Tomorrow sees the start of “First Thing Monday.” Right now, the intention is for the feature to be three things:

  • A weekly feature at The Life Mosaic.
  • A writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing.
  • An exercise designed to require fifteen minutes of work.

This may fluctuate in the future but for now, anticipate the above recipe.

I enjoy writing prompts. I like receiving them in a class or group or seeking them out on my own and I enjoy offering them to other people in teaching, training, and other spaces like this blog. I think any writing prompt allows one to stretch his or her creative legs to walk to places he or she perhaps wouldn’t otherwise travel. Really, that’s “any” writing prompt. Even the bad ones, the cliche ones, even those can take someone to somewhere new if one is open to it. That said, here’s hoping the writing prompts I offer here aren’t “bad” and seldom dip into the “cliche” pool without intention.

One of the key reasons I enjoy writing prompts is

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Your Monday Prompt #45

For the forty-fifth Monday Recommendation, write a story revolving around something to do with the number forty-five. Maybe it’s someone’s forty-fifth birthday. Perhaps there’s a murder with a .45 handgun. Possibly it’s someone’s marathon number. See if you can let the number forty-five feed the theme of the story somehow. Careful, though – don’t let … Read more Your Monday Prompt #45

Your Monday Prompt #44

(For non-regular readers, I present an original writing prompt every Monday. Here’s one for this week.) Write a story about a character who uses their time in nature for self-reflection. Maybe they’re thinking about their childhood while sitting on a dock. Perhaps they’re turning their marriage over and over while walking a trail. Or possibly … Read more Your Monday Prompt #44

Your Monday Prompt #43

Write a scene in which a character loses their dignity. Maybe a member of royalty trips and falls during a royal procession. Perhaps a prim and proper person is caught in a compromising position in a public restroom. Or possibly a graduate rubs the balding head of his assistant principal as he crosses the threshhold … Read more Your Monday Prompt #43

Your Monday Prompt #42

Write about a character or characters who are searching for someone. Perhaps a young man is scanning the crowd at a club, looking for his ex-girlfriend. Maybe a search party is wading through tall grass, hoping they find a little girl safe and sound. Or possibly a resident advisor is stalking the halls of a … Read more Your Monday Prompt #42

Your Monday Prompt #41

Take a character in a story you’ve already written and write a story about them that takes place exactly one year prior. This exercise should help you get to know your character a little better. This new story doesn’t have to be related to your already-existing story whatsoever, other than the character(s) who appear in … Read more Your Monday Prompt #41

Your Monday Prompt #40

Write a story about a character who finally accomplishes a tremendous goal… only to discover they have a glaring setback requiring them to do a little more work and the clock is ticking. Maybe they’re a runner who miscalculated how many laps they’ve finished in a race. Perhaps they’re in a weight-loss competition and discover … Read more Your Monday Prompt #40

Your Monday Prompt #39

Write about a character who helps a stranger. Keep said character’s emotion at the center of the piece, meaning, what you write should center more on how the character feels about helping this stranger than what they’re actually doing. Give this exercise fifteen minutes of your time. If you’re feeling extra creative this morning, take … Read more Your Monday Prompt #39