The Glen West experience

Sunrise over St. John's College in Santa Fe
Sunrise over St. John’s College in Santa Fe

How would you like to spend several days participating in a productive workshop and living within a creative community? Attend Glen West!

Many years ago, Gideon Strauss and I chatted about Christianity and culture. I was writing a series of articles for Christian Renewal on Christians in the arts, and he’s passionate about promoting art and leadership excellence to influence culture. I lamented my lack of community with other writers who want to produce work of excellent literary quality that would interest mainstream publishers. Gideon said, “Many of my writing friends recommend the Glen.”

In the intervening seven years, I researched the Glen Workshop, subscribed to Image journal, and read each Image/Update email newsletter. Every year I studied the listings of workshops and instructors, longing to attend, but for many different reasons it didn’t work out. Last fall, I saw the instructor for this year’s fiction class at Glen West would be Larry Woiwode.  I was familiar with Woiwode’s work and had interviewed him for my earlier series. I knew it was my time.

cloudsGlen West daily exceeded my expectations. The workshop, worship, community, and setting combined to create a memorable and priceless experience.

Larry Woiwode led the workshop with a laid-back style that complemented his organizational preparation and productive instruction. Our group consisted of 15 unique individuals from widely divergent backgrounds and at differing writing stages, ranging from college to retirement age, but each one was a competent writer who brought insight to the discussion. Meeting the other writers brought greater appreciation for their work, and working together developed a stimulating group dynamic.

Evening worship set an almost sacramental seal to the close of the day as we quietly and reverently focused on the Creator who bestows creativity.

hillsGlen West’s community is incredible. Even longtime attendees are warm and welcoming to newcomers. A sense of underlying creative energy is palpable.

It’s difficult for me to determine how much of this energy comes from workshop, worship, community, or setting. I believe it’s a combination of all the above. Certainly setting plays a significant role.

Santa Fe means “Holy Faith.” Native Americans valued the area as a sacred location, and Spanish missions brought Christianity in the early 1600s. Today hundreds of artists live and work in Santa Fe, whose streets are lined with art galleries. At 7000 feet above sea level, Santa Fe’s rare air is crisp and fragrant with pine, pinion, and sage. Striking clouds tower in the intense sky above green-dotted brown hills and layered blue mountains. At night familiar constellations appear lower and closer.

A star shines as St. John's bell tower is silhouetted at dusk
A star shines as St. John’s bell tower is silhouetted at dusk

The Glen West experience was a series of meaningful events, each of which I’d have liked to take time to process, but came one on top of the other to produce a cumulative emotional impact. Think summer Bible camp on steroids. Image Journal proclaims: Art, Faith, Mystery. At Glen West, those theoretical aspects became experiential realities.

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