- Individual Retreats
- Group Retreats
- Spiritual Direction
- Morning Prayer
- Taizé Evensong
- Menno Simons Library
Retreats are special times set aside for paying particular attention to the presence of God in one’s life. They are often most needed when there is little time for them. However, the benefits of “time away” when the pressures of life mount are incalculable. Someone once said, “I’m so busy, I cannot afford not to pray for two hours each day.” Likewise, retreats provide oases in our schedule to re-focus priorities and say “yes” to what is really needed rather than be run ragged by all that could be done.
Individual retreats can be self-guided or directed. Those on a self-guided retreat are welcome to participate in the Hermitage framework of Morning Prayer and community meals. A directed retreat combines the listening ear of a Spiritual Director with special time set aside for retreat. Guidance may include meditation on a particular passage of scripture and reflection questions to help identify the Spirit’s presence at work in the retreatant.
Directed Group Retreats available at The Hermitage include:
- Introduction to Silence and Solitude
- The Depths of Prayer
- Be Still and Know That I AM -God
- Holy Leisure
- Writing a Rule for Life
- Praying Scripture
- Centering Prayer
- Ignatian Spiritual Exercises (30-day and 30 week)
- Scripture-focus retreats (various texts)
- Celtic Spirituality
Spiritual Direction or companionship is an agreement between persons to listen together to the voice of the Holy Spirit, discerning the leading of God for the journey. Direction is a form of accountability in a safe, prayerful environment. A spiritual director is someone who pays special attention to the deepening spiritual life and encourages the pursuit of God through examining the holiness and love that flow from a life of prayer.
David and Naomi Wenger are available for direction appointments. They have been offering Spiritual Direction since 2003 when they received training from Sursum Corda, a spiritual director’s formation program of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. Persons interested in scheduling an initial interview should contact David or Naomi at (269) 244-8696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Joseph’s Barn, the main retreat house, offers private guest rooms with shared bathrooms for daytime or overnight accommodations. There is also a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and bathroom in St. Joseph’s Barn. The Ken Hanby Center offers additional guest rooms with shared bathroom. Several rooms are on the ground level for those with limited mobility. Other lodging includes three rustic hermitage cabins with no running water or electricity. An outhouse is located by each cabin and bath facilities are available in St. Joseph’s Barn. The hermitages are available for several hours, overnight or for your entire retreat. The following is a description of each hermitage cabin.
- Caryll House, named for the twentieth century Christian mystic Caryll Houslander, is an octagonal building in a wooded setting with gas heat and lights. Caryll House is furnished with a double bed, desk, table, sitting chairs and a two-burner stove-top. It is comfortable for two guests and is a 5-minute walk from The Hermitage main buildings
- Thoreau, named for Henry David Thoreau and celebrating his respect for the earth, is on the margin of the woods and the prairie. This is a very small cabin with a twin bed, desktop, chair and a propane heater. A cook stove is available by request. Thoreau is a 7-minute walk from The Hermitage main buildings.
- The Hut is a small building in a woodland setting with a deck and porch swing. A wood stove heats The Hut and cut wood is provided. The Hut is furnished with a twin bed, desk, rocking chair, camp stove and lantern lights. The Hut is about a 10-minute walk from The Hermitage main buildings.
Three meals are available each day. Meals are eaten in silence with other retreatants. Breakfast is self-service, available from 7:30 to 9:30 am, the midday meal (main meal of the day) is served at 12:30 pm, and a light supper is served at 5:30 pm. Meals are “home-cooked” with fresh, wholesome ingredients. The bread is homemade. We use meat sparingly and vegetarian diets can be accommodated.
Participation in Morning Prayer, each morning at 8:00am except Sunday, is a Hermitage rhythm. Morning Prayer usually follows a liturgical format, including a gathering prayer, a hymn, reading the daily lectionary, prayers of intercession and thanksgiving, affirmations and benediction. Once a week, we celebrate Holy Communion together. Morning Prayer is one of the times we pray for guests, stay connected with the events of the world and unite with one another as a worshiping community.
On Saturdays we practice Centering Prayer during the time we set aside for Morning Prayer (8:00am). We are reminded by the author of The Cloud of Unknowing that we “may know completely and ponder thoroughly every created thing and its works, yes, and God’s works too, but not God…Thought cannot comprehend God. And so, I prefer to abandon all I can know, choosing rather to love [the one] I cannot know…. By love [God] may be touched and embraced, never by thought.” In Centering Prayer we prepare ourselves to cooperate with God in receiving this gift of contemplative love.
All are welcome to join the community for these prayer services, Monday through Saturday at 8:00am.
Taizé Evensong services are held monthly on the second Sunday at 7:oopm in the Chapel of Transfiguration. The service is modeled on the style of sung prayer used by the Taizé Community in France. All are welcome to participate in the prayer service.
“God could do without our prayer. It is a mystery that he sets such store by it”
“Singing is one of the most important forms of prayer. A few simple words sung over and over again reinforce the meditative quality of the prayer and express a basic reality of faith that can quickly be grasped by the intellect but then gradually penetrate the heart and the whole being.”
“In the common prayer, the spirit of praise gives glimpses of the invisible. In it, you receive a kind of ‘shock of meaning.’ And within you comes welling up the wonder of a love.”
-Brother Roger of Taizé.
Wooded and open walking trails cover the 62-acre property and adjoin trails maintained by the neighboring GilChrist Retreat Center. A Triple-Spiral prayer labyrinth is available in a secluded valley. An Eleven-Circuit Labyrinth is also available at GilChrist.
The Menno Simons Library, located in the Ken Hanby Center, is a specialized collection focusing on the spiritual life. It is a lending library available for guest use. The library contains over 5,000 volumes.