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Tread Softly

As we stride rapidly towards the end of another year, we hope 2017 brought you new experiences, contented moments and wonderful stories that helped make it a most memorable time. Wanting to add a touch of magic to the upcoming Holiday Season festivities we take this opportunity to wish you a most inspiring New Year with a story written earlier this year by one of our retreat participants, Kate Gerwin.


Rhu’s knees were beginning to go numb from crouching on the stone ledge and her back ached as she contorted herself so that she could peer into the small, dimly lit room. The howling wind behind her allowed her to hear only every few words, but she didn’t need to hear much to read the feelings of the animated, red-faced figures populating the hall. Rhu’s eyes, however, were tracked on one tall body, sitting calmly in the center.

“The situation is out of control!” bellowed the large man in the middle of the room. “We are under threat! She is contaminating Brinalack and Glassagh and not a one of you are willing to take the true measures needed to see that things are handled properly.”

“Calm yourself down, John,” came another equally passionate but steadier voice, “you talk like the girl is a weed to be stamped out. She’s a child for Christ’s sake.”

“A child who will be the end of our whole village if we don’t do something soon! Do you not remember what that child did to my barn? She upended it from its very foundation! It took me weeks to clear away the wreckage, let alone think about building another.”

“Everyone is sorry about your barn, John,” continued the steady voice “and we have all pledged to help you raise another. But what you propose for the girl is too much.”

“I say it’s not enough,” bellowed another voice from the back of the crowd, “who is to say that banishing her will solve anything! Why, with a “powers” like hers, what would stop her from—in a fit of rage—coming back and wipe us all out!”

“That’s quite enough, Michael,” came the voice from the center. Rhu pressed her ear to the glass, eager not miss a word, but ever mindful of being seen.

“There will be no talk of harming the child; not while I live and breathe and am pastor of this parish. She is poses a problem, it is true. But I will not allow violence to be our way.”

At that, Rhu swung herself around on her stone perch and let out a deep sigh into the crisp black sky. She had heard enough, whatever the outcome of the meeting, she could live with, at least for now. Swinging herself down from the ledge, she landed softly on the grass below. Rhu could walk the streets of the village blindfolded but tonight, she craved the comfort of a little light along the way. Checking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Rhu began to slowly rub her hands together, as if she was kneading a ball of dough.

Within seconds, a soft lilac light began to emanate from her palms and Rhu began the short but heavy journey home.


Kate Gerwin, M.S., LGPC, is a Baltimore-based mental health therapist who specializes in holistic approaches to client wellbeing. She believes that creativity, community, nature, and wonder are essential elements for thriving and says she found “all of them in spades” at the Ireland Writing Retreat.

And if you become a Friend of the Retreat, you qualify for the Early Bird discount for all Gold Packages. Remember, there are only 10 places available,

so don’t be disappointed, make your reservation now.

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