Journey Toward Wholeness
A Courage & Renewal® Retreat
Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, New Mexico
November 10-15, 2019
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
It was amazing to witness the depth of wisdom that the focus person was able to achieve.
I continue to be influenced by the experience. It was also life changing for me...
Reminded my soul of the practice and power of simply being listened to and held in a sacred space.
“By choosing integrity, I become more whole, but wholeness does not mean perfection. It means becoming more real by acknowledging the whole of who I am.”
― Parker J. Palmer, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life
Based on the work of Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage & Renewal, this retreat designed for spiritual directors explores issues of transition, vocation, relationship, life passion, purpose, and the unfolding stirrings of Spirit. Through reflection and connection, we examine some of our underlying patterns, the ways we live in alignment with our deepest values, and the courage to act with integrity and authenticity.
We welcome people from diverse faith traditions, racial and ethnic identities, genders, ages, abilities, and spiritual practices to join us for this retreat. In a safe, nurturing, and confidential environment, we share periods of quiet self-reflection and group discussion, as well as laughter, lightness, and renewal. Guided by core principles and practices, including the belief that everyone has an inner teacher, an inner source of truth, we engage in contemplative practices to support personal and societal transformation.
Savoring the stunning beauty of the high desert, we explore poetry, prose, music, gentle guided movement, journaling, stories from various wisdom traditions, and mindfulness meditation practices. Clearness committee, a Quaker process of spiritual discernment, is the capstone of the retreat.
If you want to learn more about the Quaker clearness committee, click here.
I wish you could see what I see out the window—the earth pink and yellow cliffs to the north—the full pale moon about to go down in an early morning lavender sky . . . pink and purple hills in front and the scrubby fine dull green cedars—and a feeling of much space—It is a very beautiful world.”
~ Georgia O’Keeffe
Located 65 miles northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Ghost Ranch is a place of magnificent scenic beauty, comprised of canyons, cliffs, plains, grasslands, and streams. This 21,000-acre wilderness ranch is made famous by iconic American painter, Georgia O’Keeffe. Ghost Ranch, an interfaith education and retreat center of the Presbyterian Church (USA), welcomes people worldwide and seeks to enrich lives so that all may experience God through discovery and transformation.
Ghost Ranch is at 6,500 feet requiring some time to adjust to the altitude. Those with significant health problems should consult with their personal physicians as to the safety of being at this altitude in this remote location.
Considered a "thin place" by many, the desert landscapes of Ghost Ranch call to the spirit and invite introspection and personal transformation. Read Valerie Brown's blog about her experience here.
“It is essential sometimes to go into retreat, to stop everything that you have been doing, to stop your experiences completely and look at them anew, not keep on repeating them like machines. You would then let fresh air into your mind, wouldn’t you?
The place must be of great beauty with trees, birds, and quietness, for beauty is truth and truth is goodness and love.” Krishnamurti
5 nights in single/double occupancy
Ghost Ranch conservation fee
Retreat does not include:
Airfare to Albuquerque/Santa Fe
Transfer to/from Ghost Ranch
Meals and drinks not specified
Double room: USD$ 1,849/person
Single room: USD$ 2,349 /person
Payment plans are available. Contact us for more information.
Have questions? Call us at
Limited scholarships are available based on need.
Valerie Brown, JD, MA, PCC is Courage & Renewal® Facilitator, trained by Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage & Renewal. She is an international retreat leader, spiritual director, writer, accredited leadership coach, and Principal of Lead Smart Coaching, LLC, specializing in application and integration of mindfulness and leadership.
She transformed her high-pressure, twenty-year career as a lawyer-lobbyist, representing educational institutions and nonprofits, to human-scale work with leaders and teams to foster trustworthy and authentic connections. Her books include, The Road that Teaches: Lessons in Transformation through Travel (QuakerBridge Media, 2012) and The Mindful School Leader: Practices to Transform Your Leadership and School (Corwin, 2014), and several Pendle Hill pamphlets, including Coming to Light: Cultivating Spiritual Discernment through the Quaker Clearness Committee.
Valerie is a Quaker and an ordained member of the Tiep Hien Order by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in 2003. As certified Kundalini yoga teacher, she helps leaders discover the wisdom of the body. She leads an annual transformational pilgrimage to El Camino de Santiago, Spain, to celebrate the power of sacred place.
Ghost Ranch photographs courtesy of Valerie Brown
Carol Kortsch was born and raised in Africa, educated in Canada, and worked internationally for 20 years establishing intentional, live-in rehabilitation, counseling, and training communities before moving to Radnor, PA.
As a psychotherapist and group facilitator she worked, traveled, and wrote from Stonehaven Commons for another 25 years. She is a retreat facilitator trained by the Center for Courage & Renewal (Parker J Palmer) and Animas Valley Institute (Bill Plotkin). She loves to write and is a passionate gardener.
Recently moved to Colorado, she seeks to network within the deeper Earth community, dig her roots into mountain land, and offer nature-based retreats from her wilderness soul. As a life adventurer and Earth listener, she recognizes our essential and critical human need to stop, slow down, and listen to our lives and all our relations speak.
“ About a quarter of the participants of the retreat [SDI Journey to Wholeness at Ghost Ranch] volunteered to tell a discernment story – something in their lives for which they needed co-journeyers in order to see more clearly the way forward… deep listeners… companions to clear the way for the light within them to shine.
I was one of those listeners. In my group, there were 4 of us. For 15 minutes we listened and took notes as she told her story. Then for 90 minutes we asked questions – questions designed to allow the storyteller to go deeper into her own heart… not leading questions… not advice disguised as questions… not questions that would clarify the situation for us… questions designed to invite her into greater self-reflection. We asked questions playing back her words and phrases – not our own.
After 90 minutes — no more and no less, for the next 10 minutes we mirrored her responses back to her: when you were asked ––––– you said –––––––. We’d been taking notes all the way through and she had not. Repeating what she said allowed it to resonate more deeply within her. And for the last 5 minutes we affirmed her — her courage, her honesty, her gentleness, her willingness, her wisdom, her generosity of spirit.
In total, we were together 2 hours. Closure was not the point. That she arrived at the answer we thought she should was NOT the point. That she was honored in her own work and that the light within her was given the opportunity to shine within her… and that the advocate, the helper, the Holy Spirit was allowed to teach from within her – that was the point.
It was an amazing process.”
Rev. Cathi King, from her sermon on June 10, 2018
“The process of participating in this Courage & Renewal Retreat is life giving. It opened me to the concept that we all have within us what we need to guide our lives in soulful and soul filled ways. It offered a way to be authentic and have meaningful, loving, courageous, and life-changing conversations in a safe context. It has changed my life, assisted me in being a healing presence in my context.” MB
"This Courage & Renewal Retreat has been one of the most difficult and heart felt times in my life, but it has helped open my heart and heal my soul like nothing else I have ever done. Valerie, you are an excellent facilitator: encouraging, acknowledging and appreciating each of us for who we are.” ROR
“This retreat fulfilled my expectations, and then some. I’m leaving with new access to my inner wisdom and a clear sense of pathways that will support my journey toward the contributions I want to offer my community."
"Grounded, restorative, spirit-filled. A gift. Thank you.”
"The Circle of Trust helped me to clarify my intentions and enabled me to listen to and follow my heart. The Clearness Committee is an amazing process that opens to the Holy. Valerie is a skilled, flexible, and compassionate facilitator, responsive to the individual and groups’ needs, and artful in balancing both.” TB
“Ghost Ranch is a ‘thin place’ where the spiritual is within reach. The landscape is itself a vibrant part of spiritual renewal. This Journey Toward Wholeness Retreat allowed us to be intimate with the land, our souls, and each other. I leave here with hope that I can live soulfully in this world.”