Immersed in stone: a typical training at Meadowcreek

Meadowcreek trainings are unlike any you have ever taken.  Half-way into the recent stone mason training, I realized I was living in a totally different world.  All I was focused on was stone and finding just the right stone with the right color and angles for a particular spot.  Then carefully mortaring it in place, tuck-pointing it and on to the next stone.  I was totally immersed in stone.

swimI was one of four absolute newbies and one master stone mason gathered at Meadowcreek last week for a five day training in stone masonry.

One characteristic of Meadowcreek trainings is that they are immersion trainings.  You live, eat and breathe the subject.  There are no cell phones or TV to distract you.  You spend all day every day with your teacher and your fellow students.  You eat all your meals with them and you even harvest some of the food you eat with them.  Much of what you eat is produced right at Meadowcreek.

One of the best immersions happens at the end of every day when you head for the Blue Hole.  All the sweat and grime and tiredness disappears as your body sinks into the spring-fed, turquoise water.  The trout swim around you seeing if you are edible and then wander off while you go deeper and deeper into the cold water.

Just as you had no idea you could actually work all day laying stone, your overheated body cannot fathom the possibility of being immersed in the cold spring water initially.  Then, gradually you are up to your waist, your chest, your neck and then totally immersed.

You’re immersed in a third way at supper every day.  In community.  You help Meadowcreek residents prepare food or you just rest, tired from the day, on the many couches in the common room.  Dinner is a laughing, joking affair as you once again forget you have been carrying stones all day.

You’ll likely sleep sound as a rock, though a loud owl near the dorm awoke some of us. We went back to sleep looking at the brilliant stars winking at us through the trees.

When you walk to the training site after breakfast, you are looking at the world in a totally different way.  You see the colors and angles and texture of all the rocks that you’d never noticed before.  Since we were building square columns for a porch, we were especially interested in rocks with ninety degree angles–corners.  We began to see corners everywhere.  We took the pickup to collect corners and found all we needed along the road on one hillside.  Back at the training site, these rocks we’d never even noticed before became a beautiful structure.

That’s another unique aspect of training at Meadowcreek.  It is for a specific purpose, not just training for its own sake.  Our task was to rebuild the porch of a house in stone.  We were all involved in accomplishing a specific goal.

We were a community with a common goal, just as Meadowcreek overall is a community with a common goal.

I can’t wait for my next Meadowcreek training: designing ropes course for team-building.  Hope to see you there Columbus Day weekend.

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