Desert Spirituality  

                                                                                                                           March 22,23,24

                                                                                                                          Led by: Susan Yanos

" discover and develop our inalienable spiritual liberty and use it to build, on earth, the Kingdom of God.” - Thomas Merton - Wisdom of the Desert

Although we often resist it, the desert experience of dryness and loss is a necessary stage of the spiritual journey. During this retreat, we will examine the wisdom of the desert monastics to help us learn to let go, see clearly, and live simply.  As Thomas Merton wrote in Wisdom of the Desert, we are in desperate need of their example and must be as “thorough and as ruthless in our discover and develop our inalienable spiritual liberty and use it to build, on earth, the Kingdom of God."                                                                                                           

Susan has been a parish director of Catholic religious education, a catechist, a professor of writing and literature. She is a certified spiritual director and has led retreats throughout the United States.  She is the author of Woman, You Are Free: A Spirituality for Women in Luke (which won an award from the Catholic Press Association),  and the forthcoming collection of poetry: The Tongue Has No Bone, and co-editor of and contributor to Emerging from the Vineyard: Essays by Lay Ecclesial Ministers.  She and her husband live on a farm in east central Indiana, and are the parents of two grown daughters.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Suggested Donation: $195 - includes lodging, meals, retreat & related materials. If the suggested donation is not within your budget please let us know - we can make arrangements/adjustments.

To Sign Up for this Retreat: Contact: Bethany Spring Retreat Center, 115 Dee Head Road, New Haven, KY 40051; Email: -or- Phone: 502-507-8576

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                            Contemplative Writing: The Art of Noticing Deeply

                                                                                            Led by: Libby Falk Jones, Ph.D

                 May 18, 19 (optional: evening of May 17) & October 12-13 (optional: evening of October 11), 2019

                                                   “The artist, like the monk, has an interior wilderness to discover.” -Thomas Merton- 

Come explore inner and outer spaces through writing and other arts.   We will spend time in writing, reading, and seeing, opening ourselves to the beauty we can notice without and within when we have the opportunity to quiet ourselves. Through generative writing and viewing exercises, we will invite the unexpected. The structure includes time for creating in community and in solitude, as well as time for sharing our work-in-progress as we each desire. In addition to spending time in the hospitable spaces of Bethany Springs Retreat Center, we will visit the Abbey of Gethsemani.  

Writers at all levels of experience are welcome. The retreat is limited to ten(10) participants.

Libby is Professor Emerita in English from Berea College, where she taught creative and contemplative writing for three decades.  Her poems and creative nonfiction have been published in regional and national journals and anthologies, including Still, Anthology of Appalachian Writers, The Merton Seasonal, and New Growth: Recent Kentucky Writing.  She is the author of two books of poems, Above the Eastern Treetops, Blue (Finishing Line, 2010) and, with four other Berea poets, Balance of Five (Berea, 2015). A practitioner of contemplative photography, she has led workshops on writing and seeing at a variety of locales across the country. She can be reached at    

Writing Retreat: A Journey Inward Glenda Dent White, past retreat participant

  I enter the silence a willing prisoner, seeking to discover                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I know not what As trusting as a very young child who has not yet learned deceptions                                                                                                                                                           Something stirs deep within, faint at first but unrelenting                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Words form of their own volition, racing across the paper far faster even than my brain could dictate.                                                                                                                                               Where am I headed? Damned if I know Yet I know with all my being the trip will be worth the risk!

Suggested Donation: Includes Lodging, Food, Retreat and related materials $ 90 Optional Day (Friday)+$ 60= $150

                                    Sign up for both retreats and receive a $20=$70 ($30 optional day =$120) discount off the 2nd retreat.

                                    Please note: If suggested donation is not within your budget, please let us know - we can make arrangements/adjustments.

To Sigh Up: Contact Bethany Spring or

Phone: 502-507-8576  .  115 Dee Head Road, Hew Haven, KY. 40051

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                                                                                                                     'Why We Meditate'

Here is what James Finley, PhD says about meditation...

...I invite you to join me in reflecting on a way of understanding and appreciating why fidelity to some form of meditation is so helpful to us in our spiritual journey. We can begin by reminding ourselves that the realm of the ego is more dense and intense than the realm of the spirit. Though the realm of the spirit is infinitely more real than ego, ego easily overshadows spirit and hides it from our view. We can sit before the setting sun so upset that we just got a parking ticket that we do not even see the beauty of the setting sun. We tend to be so caught up in what happened that we tend not to be fully aware of what is happening. The point being, that if we are not careful we can spend our whole life skimming over the surface rather than entering into the depths of our own life.

In meditation we take a hiatus from hectic, ego-based ways. In meditation we settle into a more interior, spiritual awareness of the previously unrecognized spiritual depths of the present moment. In meditation we set aside our preoccupations with all we need to do, so we might be as present as we can be in a "Here I am Lord" stance of openness to God.

Our ego wants to know how we can justify pausing to be when we do not have enough time to do all we need to do! What we come to discover, however, is that if we do not take time to simply be, our ego-based preoccupations with all we need to do tends to dominate our life. But as we learn to just be in the silent simplicity of meditation we transcend the tyranny of doing over our mind and heart. In taking time to be in meditation we transcend the tyranny of sequential time, which, if you have noticed, we are always running out of and never have enough of.

Meditation lays bare our true nature and in doing so lays bare God's nature given to us as our own nature. This is the extraordinary thing; that God's own nature has been given to us by God as our own true nature. God is Spirit who creates us in the image and likeness of Spirit. As long as we remain caught up in the one-dimensional energy of ego consciousness we continue to skim over the surface of the depths of our own God-given Godly nature. As long as we succumb to the demands of doing, we keep flying right past the eternal now in which our lives unfold. But as we cultivate the habit of meditation we can learn to rise from our meditation without breaking the thread of an underlying meditative awareness in our daily life. In this habituated meditative awareness we can learn to do all that needs to be done in a more grounded, more meditative manner that bears witness to the inherent dignity of life's daily tasks.

We must be patient with ourselves as we devote ourselves to this lifelong, transformative process. Taking the time to transcend the tyranny of time is time well spent. In God's good time, an underlying meditative awareness grows within us to the point of becoming our habitual way of experiencing everything that we experience.

Jim Finley - Copyright © 2008 Dr. James Finley - Used with Dr. Finley's permission.

                                                                HERE IS WHAT MERTON WRITES ABOUT MEDITATION

                                                                          Thomas Merton on Christian meditation and awareness of God:


Meditation is not merely the intellectual effort to master certain ideas about God or even to impress upon our minds the mysteries of our Christian faith. Conceptual knowledge of religious truth has a definite place in our life, and that place is an important one....[But] the knowledge of which we are capable is simple knowledge about Him. It points to Him in analogies which we must transcend in order to reach Him. But we must transcend ourselves as well as our analogies, and in seeking to know him we must forget the familiar subject-object relationship which characterizes our ordinary acts of knowing.

Instead we know Him insofar as we become aware of ourselves as known through and through by Him. We "possess" Him in proportion as we realize ourselves to be possessed by Him in the inmost depths of our being. Meditation or "prayer of the heart" is the active effort we make to keep our hearts open so that we may be enlightened by Him and filled with this realization of our true relationship to Him. Therefore the classic form of "meditation" [among others] is repetitive invocation of the name of Jesus in the heart emptied of images and cares.

Hence the aim of meditation, in the context of Christian faith, is not to arrive at an objective and apparently "scientific" knowledge about God, but to come to know Him through the realization that our very being is penetrated by His knowledge and love for us. Our love of God is paradoxically a knowledge not of Him as the object of our scrutiny, but of ourselves as utterly dependent on His saving and merciful knowledge of us....We know Him in and through ourselves insofar as his truth is the source of our being and His merciful love is the very heart of our life and existence. We have no other reason for being, except to be loved by Him as our Creator and Redeemer, and to love Him in return. There is no true knowledge of God that does not imply a profound grasp and an intimate personal acceptance of this profound relationship.

The whole purpose of meditation is to deepen the consciousness of this basic relationship of the creature to the Creator, and of the sinner to his Redeemer.

                                                                                    SO, THIS IS WHY MEDITATION IS SO IMPORTANT:

It can, and does lead to a whole new way we see and relate to our self, our God, our neighbors, family, and friends; and the whole world.

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                                                              To Register for any retreat - private or guided: 

                           email: Rick at: - or -

                                                                   Phone: 502-507-8576

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                                                                                         RETREATS IN THE PLANNING STAGE 

                                                                                                          Living in the Presence;