Retreats and Workshops
I have been offering retreats and workshops for many years to seekers gathered together ready to explore deeply these topics and how they unfold in the lives of the participants. Each offering is a guided conversation, with those present sharing deeply from the treasure troves of their lives in response to the material I offer. Through stories, poetry, music, dance, embodied movement, engaging images, periods of silence, and contemplative practices, the focus of each event is explored deeply by participants. Ecumenical worship is also often offered in which all are welcome to dive deeply into prayer as feels right in their own skin.
I have traveled all over the United States doing these retreats, and internationally as far as South Africa. I work with sponsoring organizations in designing, advertising, and implementing the events.
They pay for my travel, room and board, and a stipend which varies with the length of the event and the degree of complexity involved.
Some of the retreat subjects I offer have included:
(the retreat from which the book Finding the North Star in a Mapless World: Wilderness Spirituality for Uncertain Times evolved). This is a two, three, four, or five day retreat looking at how we can navigate the dismantling times of our lives through the lens of physical wilderness.
This is a retreat which grew from a presentation I did for the Living School Intensives for six years. Given as a one, two, or three day long retreat, we explore together how we can deepen consciousness of what it is we need to know and how we grow to understand it.
Spiritual Discernment in Times of Wilderness
This retreat combines the key elements of the above two retreats and explores more deeply how to live in these challenging times.
Discerning a Rule of Life
Also developed from a presentation for the Living School for Action and Contemplation, this retreat looks at how to structure our lives to allow our clearest discernment opening to a discipline which is neither rigid nor judgmental. Such discernment invites contemplative engagement in community with those issues which most break our hearts open in response (also available as a workshop, below).
"What really emerged for me during this retreat was a blossoming of my ability to listen to nature and allow it to speak to and through me. To me this is a contemplative practice - even more so it is a vocation... I feel it is part of my calling. I recall coming into the retreat with a feeling that I didn’t have the authority to step into my role as a co-creator of healing with the forces of nature. This retreat and the time spent in nature along with the explorations of wilderness spirituality helped me to open more into my authority and find my voice as a healer."
- A participant in a 2019 retreat on Wilderness Spirituality
Dancing With the Grim Reaper: Explorations into Mortality
This three (or four) part workshop allows participants to imagine what a “good death” might look like for them and then to put the pieces in place which might best support those wishes. This is a wonderful workshop to offer in faith communities, especially during Lent. Most of the parts are two to four hours in length and can be presented in a variety of ways. I ask for a commitments from participants to attend all sessions.
Part I: The Inner Work: This section explores participants’ relationship with death, their history with it, telling the stories of how they have been shaped by the reality of death, and allows them to imagine their own deaths. We explore the language of death in culture. We also look hard at how to have conversation about end-of-life issues with family members who might not be open to the conversation. We practice role plays, tell stories, and people go home with home work.
Optional: Part II: Enfleshing our Attitudes about Death: This part (which has never actually been chosen by a group I have worked with) is mostly non-verbal. Over the course of two to three hours, participants each create a death mask or death shroud which reflects their feelings about dying and death.
Part III: Dying in Christian Community: This third part looks at how faith communities might support persons at the end of their lives and their families. What are the varying theologies about death? What do our hymnals, liturgy, and traditions say about dying and death? What can we expect of our clergy? What are the choices that need to be made around our memorial services or funerals? Participants go home with a booklet in which to enshrine their decisions.
Part IV: The Finances and Decisions Around Death: In this four or five hour long segment I work with a local estate lawyer. We look at the decisions that need to be made in wills and living wills, what the resources are for making those decisions, and allow for lots of questions. We also examine the options available for “Green Burial,” the most environmentally friendly approaches with which we might respond to our bodies coming to the end of their days.
This one and a half to three hour presentation is an engaging introduction to contemplative prayer which looks deeply into traditional forms of prayer while still exploring non-traditional ways of offering oneself to the Holy. Through stories, music, poetry, and movement we experience some of the many forms of contemplative prayer together, and help participants understand how not only to devote designated time to this essential practice but how to live life contemplatively as a way of the heart.
In the three hours of this workshop attendees are introduced to the essential components of Celtic Spirituality in such a way that we come to deeper appreciation of its gifts to the world today. This is not just a fascinating piece of Church history, but Celtic spirituality might actually be part of what saves the Church and the world in our own time. The offerings are as fresh as ever. Participants are given a window into the profound ways the ancient Celts united head, heart, and hands, and are invited to discern where those gifts might be enfleshed in their own lives.
Navigating Difficult Conversations
Developed for a budding Deaconal program, this workshop examines and practices the tools which are necessary for holding one’s own in difficult conversations. What makes them difficult? What is it that might be threatened in each of us by the conversation? What grounds us so that we may move through the difficulty, whatever its trajectory? In two to three hours of deep work and conversation we learn how to lose the fear which keeps us from encountering each other truly and speaking our own truth. Participants learn skills which will hold them well no matter what the nature of the difficulty.
Discerning a Rule of Life (also available as a full retreat, above)
Drawing from the ancient monastic discipline of living out of a common Rule, this workshop takes the practice out of the monastery and into the home, the school, the church, the hermitage, that workplace. In the half-day to day-long workshop we look at the how what underlies the history of this tradition continues to inform our own inner structures today. We remember what has shaped our yearning and loving in the past, what has inhibited both, and what are the ways we might structure our lives now to allow for the deepest discernment, the most faithful openness to the Holy One, and growing consciousness of our vocation in meeting the needs of the world. With silence, stories, poetry, images, and movement, each participant will leave with a map for how they might live out of a non-rigid, non-judgmental “Rule” (more like a map) which will guide their spiritual lives from thenceforth.
Lenten and Advent Quiet Days
The Church has a rich tradition of offering time for laity to come together in prayerful reflection, usually based around the specificity of sacred time, particularly during these two meditative seasons. Drawing from scriptural stories, poetry, artwork, and times of quiet, participants will explore the deepening ways of being available to consciousness of the Spirit within them and ways they might embody that Spirit more faithfully in the rest of their lives. The specific flavors of the season uniquely characterize each offering.
For a list of upcoming retreats, workshops, or events I am doing, please click on the "Upcoming Events" drop down option on this page's menu link.