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Loretto’s ecumenical retreat centers welcome you

Posted on February 17, 2023, by Christina Manweller

Cherishing the peace at Cedars

The outline of a woman walking, filled in by a view of trees in the woods.

The first time I stayed at Cedars of Peace, coming from a busy city and work, it took a full day for my breathing to begin to slow, my steps to find a more natural rhythm. Then, as if I’d reached a secret threshold, I felt my shoulders release their grip. I sat on the simple screened porch and listened to each squirrel, each bird, each acorn falling on the roof of Namaste, the small cabin I was graced to stay in. I watched as the light changed on tree trunks as day lengthened, and then again as it waned. Since that first visit, I’ve found myself drawn to return to Cedars’ healing environment.

My next cabin is Wonder.

One of my pastor’s suggestions for encountering unease or puzzling questions in life is to “Go to wonder.” So it feels appropriate to be going to Wonder at a time when the world feels uneasy and puzzling.

Visiting the small forest chapel where I’m cradled by exquisite wooden walls, floor and ceiling, I face the tall windows and the woods. Here, trees hold the space holy, inside and out. Setting the meditation timer, I settle in and keep my eyes softly open. After a few moments, movement draws my attention. A fawn with a spotted rear has wandered into the picture and lowers herself to curl up at the base of a tree in front of me. What gift could I have asked for that would bring more wonder? The newly-begotten creature rests there in her beauty right in front of me; tears fill my eyes. In a world that feels uncertain, this feels certain.

Seekers are welcome here.

Susan Classen CoL

When I emerge, birdsong and awe embrace me all the way back to Wonder. In the cabin a guest book brims with heartsongs: testaments to spiritual gleanings, rendezvous with beauty and deep gratitude. Encountering sentiments echoing my own, I enjoy the camaraderie of unknown friends and am grateful for the community of those who have come to this sanctuary before me, and those who will come after. In my solitude, I feel I, too, belong.

The next morning walking up the gravel road to the Motherhouse farm to check out the calves, I find a few frolicking in the field and a couple of newborns lolling in the barn, their awkward, unawakened legs folded under black and white bodies. Their enormous mothers loom, standing watch. Back outside, I find joy in watching calves playing chase, racing around the placidly grazing adults. I take too many pictures.

Back at Wonder once more, I open the little fridge and set out makings for a sandwich. Ensconced on the porch, listening to busy birds, I open one of the books borrowed from Knobs Haven, the Motherhouse retreat house up the road. I can hardly read I am that chock full of gratitude, and yes, wonder, and set aside the book. Gratitude fills my heart — for here is a taste of the peace that passes all understanding.

A lot of people experience peace on the Motherhouse land, and they usually attribute it to the sisters who live here, for good reason. I think the sense of peace that’s created is also because of the land itself … because of Indigenous peoples and other humans who were here long before any of us. So, when people come, they’re being held by concentric circles of life.

JoAnn Gates CoL
Knobs Haven
Two women and a man sit in a row of chairs along a staircase, with reading materials in their laps.
From left, Karel Disponett CoL, Pilar Gonzalez CoL and Len Grinstead participate in a 2018 Loretto Outreach retreat at Knobs Haven, a Loretto retreat house at the Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky.
Photo by Leslee Moore CoL
Sunlight streams in through an open window onto an easy chair flanked by a table and floor lamp. Green woods are visible through the window.
A retreat cabin at Cedars of Peace waits to extend hospitality to a visitor.
Photo by Christina Manweller
Light streams in three large bay window that look out into the woods.
The chapel in the woods at Cedars of Peace is a haven for prayer and meditation.
Photo by Christina Manweller

To read all the articles in the Winter 2022-2023 issue of Loretto Magazine, click here.


Christina Manweller

Editor of Loretto Magazine, Christina’s nonfiction and poetry has appeared in numerous publications. For many years she served as Director of Communications for a Colorado-based peace and justice organization. Her background also includes English and writing instruction at a local community college, digital and print design work, and photography. One of her joys is visiting the Loretto Motherhouse once or twice a year.
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Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!