In December, Brian and I spent five days in the wintry desert of northern New Mexico. We attended a four-day retreat at Ghost Ranch called Landscapes and Soulscapes centered on a book, Camino Divina, by the facilitator/author, Gina Marie Mammano. The retreat directed us in different themes for walking meditation and different forms of spiritual practice.
Brian and I are both long time visitors to Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center as participants in the Western Unitarian Universalist Life Festival (WUULF) family camp that occurs there every June. We are also both participating in the Foothills Unitarian Church program of Wellspring Sources, the ten-month course of spiritual deepening. A spiritual retreat at Ghost Ranch seemed the perfect way to ring in the New Year.
When we drove into Ghost Ranch it was a very different place from the hot, dry, sun-filled, June landscape we were used to. There was snow on the ground, it was chilly, and then a snowstorm blew in turning the air frigid. We joined nine hearty souls from Washington, Oregon, Ohio, Texas, and California. We met in the Agape Chapel with its wall of windows, high beamed ceiling, and lovely, woven tapestries on the walls. That first night when we were told we would each write a poem – I looked for the exit. Then each of us, with what could only be described as a spiritual Mad-Libs form, created stunning poetry on the topic of Where are You From.
We met daily from 9-12, had lunch together, and then were free until dinner at 5:30 followed by a session from 7-8:30 pm. The morning expectation was that we would walk in meditation for an hour plus every day. And we did, all nine of us. On the day it got up to 15° we were allowed to sit inside and observe the landscape, but no one did; the landscape was too enticing, even in the cold.
On the second we did a craft activity, and once again I was looking for the door. Turns out making finger labyrinths at a table with chatty folks is actually easy and fun. These folks were not just hearty, chatty, and friendly – this retreat attracted the most amazing group of thoughtful, philosophical, funny, and creative people. Most inspiring is that four of them were young – outer edge millennials. The depth of their thoughts and experiences stunned me. More than once I thought – “If these folks are next to be in charge of our world, we are in good hands.”
You will want to put Ghost Ranch on your Bucket List; and don’t just drive through, you have to spend several days. You will need to experience the sunrises, sunsets, the night sky, the rock formations, the clouds, the hikes, the sheep who daily graze free on the pasture. There’s more, lots more – Georgia O’Keefe lived and painted there. And guess what? Come June 24-July 1, 2019 you could choose to participate in WUULF. The best WUULF news this year is that our own Sean Neil-Barron will be our Adult Program presenter, and he and Charles will be there the whole week. If you are a family that counts the days until Buckhorn, WUULF is for you. The electronic catalog will be mailed in early February. Let me know if you want to be on the list to receive it. firstname.lastname@example.org or go to wuulf.org for more information.
And finally our facilitator, poet/writer Gina Marie Mammano, is offering another retreat at Ghost Ranch in April 25-29 called Writing and Interactive Theatre A Response to Our Times or a Creative Search for Compassion. Click for details.
The Wisdom Tree where we gathered each morning of WUULF for a brief service.