May 2011 (Vol. XXIV, No. 5)
We warmly welcome you, dear friends, to Still Point Mountain Retreat, the new home of Friends of Silence. We hope you will come and discover the “still point” of your “turning world,” where in the words of T.S. Eliot there is “neither movement from nor towards, neither ascent nor decline,” and where “except for the still point, there would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”
Nestled next to the 1400-acre nature preserve of Rolling Ridge, near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, Still Point offers a secluded setting for personal retreat, families, small groups, and occasional special-topic retreats. Still Point’s 3-bedroom, 2- bath log cabin, 1-room guest cottage, 2 teepees, and camping space offer sacred space to reflect, pray, relax, and enjoy the beauty of wilderness.
Check the new Friends of Silence website for information on facilitated group retreats, private retreat space, spiritual direction and other resources.
For more information:
Friends of Silence: www.friendsofsilence.net
Rolling Ridge: www.rollingridge.net
Friends Wilderness: www.friendswilderness.org
To schedule retreat space at Still Point, contact Mary Ann Welter:
Phone: 301 332-5780
To change your newsletter address or switch to an e-mail only version, and for info about FOS and our new office,
contact Trish Stefanik:
Friends of Silence
186 Tupelo Lane
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
Beginning immediately, please send all FOS mail to this Tupelo Lane address.
Personal mail to Anne Strader may be sent to 2732 Evening Mist Drive, Little Elm, TX 76068 after June 1, 2011.
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The divine presence that we sense in sacred places is often reinforced by architecture and decoration that reflect our aspirations toward the heavens. A sacred place requires a clear spiritual focus and separation from its physical surroundings. The word "temple" (and the associated activity of contemplation) -- Latin templum --means a piece of land marked off from ordinary uses and dedicated to the divine. Sacred structures provide expressions of, rather than merely a shell for, numinous experience
The sacred cannot be precisely defined. Each of us perceives it through the lens of a unique personal history. For me, sacredness is an experience of the inner radiance of life, the unseen force that transforms and nourishes the physical world but is never limited by it. There is something more to it, a mystery that is never totally grasped.
I have learned to treat my garden as the sacred place it is and it continually nourishes me both in body and in spirit Earth is sacred too, and whatever we do to her will come back to us many times over. If we treat her as merely a resource and a place to throw our refuse, we will reap only death and disease. If we treat her as the sacred place she is, we will reap the benefits of living on sacred ground.;
Be aware of the sacred site . . .
Sacred sites are sacred because our
response to them is sacred.
There is a resonance between the sacred
within and the sacred without . . .
The sacred is within our hearts . . .
Visit sacred sites, yes. Bathe in the
resonance, inspire the divine.
But never forget where lies the holiest
power of all.
We become aware of the sacred because it manifests itself, shows itself, as something wholly different from the profane . . . something sacred shows itself to us . . . something of a wholly different order, a reality that does not belong to our world, in objects that are an integral part of our natural "profane" world.
When humans participate in ceremony, they enter a sacred space. Everything outside of that space shrivels in importance. Time takes on a different dimension. Emotions flow more freely. The bodies of participants become filled with the energy of life, and this energy reaches out and blesses the creation around them.
Frederick Franck turned to the door of the building, a massive wooden sculpture in the form of the sun and its rays, and pushed it open. I saw that it turned on a central axis, so that only one half of the door was open at any one time. To remind us, he murmured, that we step into this sacred space as we walk into life, alone and silently . . . I looked around me and marveled at this ninety-year-old man from whose hand had sprung everything I could see. He had carved the door, made the stained-glass windows and every other object in sight. Pacem in Terris, I realized, was one man’s act of artistic faith: a work of art outside the parameters of the art world, and also a religious statement unconfined by any religion.
Nature is a sacred space that has the power to draw us out of our small mind into the one Big Mind of God. During warm weather, praying and meditating outside in nature can naturally enhance your practice. You can pray anywhere, even on the subway, but whenever you find yourself in a place that feels sacred, you have already made the connection with God.
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