Post by Rev. Dr. Arvid Straube, lead spiritual director
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul…..
This is a line from one of the songs we sang this evening at our Vespers service. We have completed the second full day of silence. SpiritRest participants were seen entranced by the landscape, by flowers and trees, by birds and squirrels, and even leaves and acorns. As the silence deepens in each individual, the mind settles and quiets. In spiritual direction sessions seekers reported a deepening and more frequent inner peace.
I’ve got tears like the raindrops in my soul...
Out of that peace some report that there is space to gently and compassionately hold worry, grief, and anger more lightly, and to have some space around them; to let them be and learn from them. During this afternoon’s prayer circle, those who chose to participate shared their lives and these experiences courageously and allowed the rest of us the privilege of praying aloud for therm. The power and insight of those prayers, coming as they did from the collective love of the group—and Beyond, was surprising and inspiring. Love was in the room in a very palpable way.
I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul...
Many other things happened, which we could choose to participate in or not. Participants were able to share their experiences and frustrations with meditation and learn a new style of Mindfulness practice. Or do Qi Gong together. Those who wished even fed each other in a communion service.
More opportunities and experiences await us tomorrow, as our silence continues to deepen.
Post by Rev. Lucy Bunch, spiritual director
Our first full day at SpiritRest is also our first full day of silence. Many of us are finding our way into the silence and spaciousness of the coming week. Just as in the first phase of walking the labyrinth, we are releasing those things from our regular lives that we need to set aside in order to create space for the possibilities of the week ahead. How often do we look at our phones? What about the news? Can we press pause on the worries and responsibilities of daily life and give ourselves this gift?
Though each of us is alone in silence, we are together in community.
I felt some release of stress and worry during the communion service tonight. The prayer of confession opened my heart. "I confess to Spirit of Life and to you my siblings and kindred that I have erred in word and thought and deed, and that I have not honored our interconnectedness.......and that I have not loved my neighbor as myself."
Just as releasing the worries and the demands of the world opens my spirit to deepening, acknowledging my brokenness, and being companioned in my brokenness, opens up the possibility of wholeness.
I look forward to the days ahead--the deepening silence--with my silent companions on this journey.
Our 2018 SpiritRest Silent Retreat will be August 12-17. Registration will open February 1.
“The most valuable thing we can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of room, not try to be or do anything whatever.”
Registration for the 2017 SpiritRest Silent Retreat is underway. We are delighted to have a combination of returning retreatants and first time retreatants.
In this, our second year, we are seeing more curiosity and openness to the idea of silent retreat. Last year's Facebook ad garnered incredulous comments: Can people really be quiet for five days?!?! Who would even want to try?
This year's ad (so far) is eliciting comments from people excited to attend, yearning to attend, and encouraging people to attend. Just this morning someone posted a testimonial to the benefits of silence and urged "If you can do it...go for it."
If you can do it, go for it. The SpiritRest Silent Retreat is July 16-21 in Santa Barbara, CA. Early registration closes tomorrow, and prices increase $25 through June 15, when late registration will open for two weeks.
With all that is going on in the world and in our lives, don't forget that caring for yourself is a priority too. Read more about our daily schedule...
Rev. Sharon Wylie
SpiritRest's Worship Leader
Now more than ever, it seems, we are living in anxious times. Many of us are wondering how to balance staying informed and involved with...keeping our sanity!
Making time and space for retreat is an important part of caring for ourselves. It should not be so difficult to step away from the demands of daily life, but it is. Most of us need to remove ourselves, fully, from daily pressures in order to reconnect with the truest part of ourselves.
SpiritRest offers the simplicity, solitude, and yes, silence, that will help you restore and rebalance what is depleted in you.
Registration is open. Give yourself the gift of a beautiful and restorative five days on retreat in Santa Barbara.
Rev. Sharon Wylie
SpiritRest's Worship Leader
Post by Sharon Wylie
December is almost over, and the days are short. Where I live in Southern California, our “winter” doesn’t consist of snow and single digit temperatures, but the quality of sunlight is nevertheless different, many of our trees are dropping leaves, and the rains are here. The natural world is entering a time of rest, of dormancy.
I believe that we too are pulled to enter a time of rest and reflection in the winter months, as part of the natural cycle. This is a time to sit by a window with a cup of tea or cocoa, to watch the world outside from the warmth and comfort of the indoors. This is a time for quiet nights at home, reading, journaling, or just staring at the fire (or the cats). This is a time for sleeping late, staying in pajamas, and puttering around in slippers.
Instead, many of us are swept up in the hoopla of the December holidays. When our bodies and spirits naturally yearn for quiet and contemplation, we load ourselves with obligations: shopping for presents, multiple and repeated gatherings of friends and family, workplace parties and gift exchanges, and on and on. Events and activities that are perfectly enjoyable once in a while are heaped into December like cakes piled into a garbage can. Too much of a good thing becomes unappetizing.
It is not unusual for people to stress about the holidays and struggle to keep in touch with what feels important and meaningful during this time. This struggle comes, I believe, from this tension between the contemplation we yearn for and the activities we are pulled into.
My online dictionary defines dormancy as “a state of minimal metabolic activity with cessation of growth, either as a reaction to adverse conditions or as a part of an organism’s normal annual rhythm.” Most of us don’t have much understanding of ourselves as needing to go dormant as part of an annual rhythm. Sure, we need to sleep each day. We slow down a little on the weekend. We might even take a vacation once or twice a year.
But these restoratives don’t always qualify as “cessation of growth.” We travel on vacation, meeting new people, exploring different cultures. Our weekends are filled with to-do lists, things that need to get done before the next week rolls around. And a good night’s sleep can be elusive, and our racing thoughts wake us before the alarm goes off.
No, I think we need to recognize our own need for periodic dormancy and then honor that need. Possibilities:
In this onward and upward world, may each of us make time to turn, instead, inward and downward. In this season of celebration and connection, may each of us remember there is more than one way to celebrate, and the first connection we need to maintain is the one we have with our deepest selves. Amen.
Poem by Jerilyn Harris, shared on the closing day of the SpiritRest Silent Retreat.
In your silence,
I have heard the
of my past;
to protect at all costs.
In your silence I have heard
the desperate cry
from a place of light
that all may know love.
In your gentle silence,
I have heard a soothing sound
in the stillness of the trees
and the humming of the bees,
come, as you are,
you are perfect in your
In your gentle silence,
my burdens have mingled with yours,
like stones in a riverbed,
Through your loving silence,
tendrils of freedom have dripped,
into my tender soul
and carved a way through
the stones I carry,
thought the years of fixated answers,
into a field outside it all,
where I can hear
a voice of
Our first SpiritRest Silent Retreat starts tomorrow!
This travel article from a few years ago talks about the growing popularity of silent retreats. "Going quiet is said to soothe frazzled nerves and lower blood pressure, not to mention give you some time for reflection in a very noisy world. Little wonder the practice has become popular with everyone from yoga-mat toters to high-powered executives."
From "Don't Say a Word" by Stephen Treffinger.
Post by Lucy Bunch.
One of the tools for spiritual practice at SpritRest is the labyrinth. The labyrinth is a walking meditation, a path of prayer and an archetypal blueprint where psyche meets Spirit.
The labyrinth is an ancient pattern found in many cultures around the world. Labyrinth designs were found on pottery, tablets and tiles that date as far back as 5000 years. Many patterns are based on spirals and circles mirrored in nature.
Walking the labyrinth is simple: it has only one path that leads from the outer edge in a circuitous way to the center. There are no tricks to it and no dead ends. The person walking it uses the same path to return from the center and the entrance then becomes the exit. The path is in full view, which allows a person to be quiet and focus internally.
Unlike a maze where you lose your way, the labyrinth is a spiritual tool that can help you find your way. Walking the labyrinth quiets the mind, opens the heart, and grounds the body. Some find answers to questions long asked, some find healing, creativity, a sense of wholeness.
I have been walking the labyrinth since 1995 and have found it to be an amazing tool for self-reflection and discovery. The labyrinth appeals to me because it is an embodied form of prayer – the feel of my feet on the ground, the awareness of the path, the sights and sounds are all part of the spiritual experience.
I look forward to meeting all of you and helping you to discover the power of this ancient practice for yourself.
Rev. Lucy Bunch
For more information about the labyrinth go to veriditas.org.