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Journey Toward Wholeness


A Courage & Renewal® Retreat

Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, New Mexico

May 22-26, 2018

“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. PalmerThe 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 spring 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.

“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

Retreat includes:

  • 4 nights in single/double occupancy

  • 4 dinners

  • 4 breakfasts

  • 4 lunches

  • Ghost Ranch conservation fee

Retreat does not include:

  • Airfare to Albuquerque/Santa Fe

  • Transfer to/from Ghost Ranch (SDI can help you coordinate a transfer from Santa Fe to Ghost Ranch: call the office 425-455-1565 for more information)

  • Meals and drinks not specified

Retreat price:

  • Double room: USD$ 1,295/person

  • Single room: USD$ 1,495 /person

The retreat is sold out

but you can send us your contact information to be added to the waiting list.

Or Call us at


Limited scholarships are available based on need.

Click here to access the application.


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.

Karen Lee Erlichman, D.Min, LCSW is a long time member of SDI. Karen provides psychotherapy, spiritual direction, supervision and mentoring in San Francisco.  Karen is a senior consultant for Ethics of Care and Resource Development with The Dinner Party and the People’s Supper, as well as a faculty member in the Jewish Spirituality D.Min program at the Graduate Theological Foundation. She completed Facilitator Preparation Training with the Center for Courage and Renewal under the leadership of Parker Palmer.

Ghost Ranch photographs courtesy of Valerie Brown 


“ 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

"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 

 “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 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

“Intensely human.”

“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.”


2025 112th Ave NE Suite #200, Bellevue, WA 98004, USA



(425) 502 9859