Lut Buyck looks back on her stay at Land aan Zee

When I received the message from Kristin Verellen that she was giving a creative workshop "Mindful drawing at sea" pro bono in the brand new location of Land aan Zee, I immediately signed up.

It wasn't just an impulse, but rather a deeper knowing: this is where I want to go.

If Kristin, together with her friend/artist Katrien Van Steen, support this initiative of Liselotte Baeijaert, then I want to be there.

De website van Land aan Zee overtreft mijn verwachtingen in alle toonaarden. De locatie in Schouwen-Duiveland tussen de Oosterscheldekering en de Noordzee spreekt mij op zich al aan om te genieten van de stilte en de ruige omgeving van duinen en dijken…. Maar wat Liselotte en haar man hier neergezet hebben is bijna onvoorstelbaar. En al zeker hun missie om een prachtige plek te creëren om mooie dingen te laten gebeuren ter bevordering van een veerkrachtige samenleving.

It almost sounds too good to be true. I can't wait to discover all of this.

A week before departure, I receive a detailed email with extra information about the ins and outs of the community where we all take care of ourselves, each other and the place. Packed and bagged, with slippers, bathrobe for the sauna and swimming pond and with the bike in the trunk, I ride under tunnels and over impressive bridges to the very tip of Zeeland: Burgh-Haamstede. It takes some detective work to find the promising Land aan Zee, hidden in the polders behind the Leemdijk. The sign "welcome" at the large barn shows me the way and Liselotte meets me smiling. It's a bit overwhelming, so brand new, so monumentally large and so wonderful... Everywhere I look I see how everything has been chosen with care, for the best of the best down to the smallest detail, with an eye for beauty and serenity.

The rest of the day I explore the area and resolutely take the cycle route to the Kop van Schouwen where I imagine myself in Finland between the forests and dunes with a view of the North Sea in the background... Full of pleasant impressions and oxygen, I return to meet the fellow participants of our "retreat". It feels a bit awkward, but after a delicious vegan meal we are invited to come and dance along to the five rhythms under the motto "The fastest way to still the mind is to move the body" (Gabriella Roth). Okay then, even though I feel a bit timid, letting go is the theme of our stay here. Under the expert guidance of Joyce de Rozario, we follow the rhythm of the music and enjoy a liberating evening to the fullest. The ice has been broken, tomorrow we will start working in the studio with paint, ink and paper. Kristin and Katrien help us with all kinds of tricks to let go of all bias and experiment with materials and techniques as intuitively as possible. This works out quite well thanks to the enthusiasm of the group and soon it feels like playing in kindergarten, a blissful experience. Before we realize it, it's noon and we can sit down again to a varied buffet that was lovingly prepared by Erik with local vegetables and herbs and even flowers freshly harvested from the garden. In the afternoon the neighbor John comes to pick us up to take a walk in the nearby nature reserve, in the evening we are served a mediative piano concert for dessert.... Gradually, we become aware that a lot of people volunteer their services here because they want to be part of the community and thus contribute to the realization of this place. It strikes me how much everyone who works here does this with visible pleasure and is open to connection. It seems as if they have all made a pact to build a warm cocoon here together on the basis of 3 essential rules of thumb: attention for yourself and for what you need to be yourself, attention and respect for each other and attention for nature and the place where we live.

In any case, it is miraculous to be able to experience that and to notice that after 3 days everyone in our group has clearly experienced the benefits of this and has returned home gratefully. I am convinced that links have been forged here, and there is no doubt that they will be continued.


Lut Buyck

(Lut is a journalist and former editor-in-chief of the magazine Elle Belgium)