A Contemplative Retreat in the Manner of Friends
524 Pitt Hall Rd., Old Chatham, NY
December 1, 2020
Last month several Friends wrote, hoping we would gather in some manner for the annual contemplative retreat, “Dwelling Deep”, traditionally held at Powell House over Martin Luther King’s birthday weekend. In light of the pandemic, we realized the only possible venue would be online.
For several weeks Carolyn and I spoke, sharing our felt sense of call; discerning a theme relevant to these liminal times; considering devotional readings and contemplative practices to engage.
For a time, planning proceeded in an easy, spirit-led manner, however as time went on we began to sense a stop, followed by the clear sense we were to let further planning and the leadership of the January retreat go for this year. As autumn turns toward winter, we sense a growing call to prayer, a desire to go inward, a call to “come home” with its many levels of meaning.
We will miss gathering around the library fire; devotional reading and active silence in the ballroom; walks around the pond; meals in silence; afternoon naps. We will miss looking around the circle, seeing one another’s faces, knowing we are gathered and upheld in Love. And yet as Irish poet and theologian John O’Donohue wrote, “Nothing is ever lost or forgotten”. Deep within we carry all we have experienced and learned at Powell House.
During Martin Luther King’s weekend, perhaps each of us can prepare a space in our home where we can retreat for a day or longer. As we prepare, we might visualize farmers who know the need for fields to lie fallow for a time, planting a cover crop so the soil may be enriched for new growth. In the same manner, we can take this time to lie fallow, allowing the Spirit to enter more deeply into our souls, to enrich and prepare us for new growth.
The “cover crop” we bring to our retreat space may include a cushion, blanket, yoga mat, candle, flowers, Bible or other spiritual reading, music, a journal. As we seek God’s Spirit in this quiet way, we will know others are also taking time to enrich their fields. Indeed, we may discover that while physically apart, we are gathered together, upheld in the Spirit. We are not alone after all.
May we hold one another in the prayerful knowing that all is well, that all manner of things will be well.
Linda and Carolyn
Linda Chidsey (Housatonic, New York Yearly Meeting) is a recorded minister in New York Yearly Meeting. She carries a concern for spiritual nurture and pastoral care. Linda has served as clerk of NYYM and on the School of the Spirit Board.
Carolyn Moon (Gwynedd, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting) serves on the Pastoral Care as well as the Worship and Ministry Committees of her monthly meeting. Carolyn has retired from her service on The School of the Spirit Board after many years.
Powell House has two main buildings, Pitt Hall and the Anna Curtis Center . There are also 57 acres of grounds with hiking trails, two ponds, a campground & pavilion, and several fire circles. Pitt Hall, where participants will be lodged, is equipped with a full kitchen, three fireplaces, a dining room, a library, several meeting rooms, and numerous bedrooms a few of which have private baths. It has about 38 beds, with some adjusting possible.
2 – 4 pm Arrival and settling in
4 pm Opening worship
5 pm Dinner
11 am Closing worship
12 noon Lunch followed by departure
Times are approximate. A detailed schedule will be sent in advance by the retreat leaders.
Fees: Sliding scale: $320-$240 ($340 after January 4, 2020)
Please check back in October, 2020, for more information and to register.