Create a Retreat for Yourself

When the heart aches for beauty, and the spirit wants something that reminds us of the benefits of the free-fall, of just going for broke in pursuit of the things you know you need to survive -love, a companion you can trust, a safe place, a hobby, a chance to sink into all that is natural, and good, and the opportunity to grab someone back from the brink, or be grabbed yourself- then there is no better film to watch than Mike Newell’s gorgeous 1992 film, Enchanted April.

“You shouldn’t be too independent, that people have no chance to be generous.”

That’s one of the many startling truths in a film that serves up truth on a platter of staggering loveliness. Some scenes remind me of exquisitely wrought Georges Seurat paintings.

I first saw the film during a Catholic women’s retreat; while watching I filled two pages with notes but still managed to gasp, over and over, at the sheer beauty of the landscape and the perfect camerawork that brings us the sienna-sepia tones of dreary, brown London, and then the shimmering hues that radiate under the Italian sun. And looking at my notes, later, I found a great deal to ponder, and some very sensible instruction, to boot.

Also, I came to find all of the women in the film beautiful (Joan Plowright’s coal-black eyes, particularly when they twinkle; there is nothing like them), and all of the men heroic, in their own ways. A very satisfying film.

For a while after the retreat, whenever my husband had a new admin or wanted to thank a woman at work for her help, I would make a basket, containing a bottle of wine, some bath salts, a nice candle, and this film. I called it a “Retreat in a Basket.” Everyone who received it would tell him (or me) that they’d fallen in love with the film.

My husband likes it, too. We both find it restful and pretty and true.

Happily, the thing is on You Tube, if you don’t mind watching it on your computer. This is scene 4 of 11, the breathtaking moment when two English women, stuck in dry marriages they have themselves helped to stagnate, divest themselves of everything familiar -that they know and rely on- and arrive in dark, stormy San Salvatore, where life opens up for them, renews and restores them (and their relationships).

Enjoy. I hope this will make you want to watch the whole thing, and make a little retreat for yourself.

Related: A six day Online Retreat

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