Collins World Pilgrimage Series: Ghost Ranch (Abiquiu, NM)
Dates: March 5 - March 12, 2015
Location: Other Site
Fee: The total cost for the pilgrimage $1750.
Status: Accepting registrations
“I will lure you and call you into the desert, and there I will speak tenderly to your heart.”—Hosea 2:19
The Alton L. Collins Retreat Center announces the second in our series of retreats to significant pilgrimage sites around the world. The 2015 destination will be Ghost Ranch, a sacred spot of desert land in the southwestern United States.
Dinosaurs once walked the soggy wetlands that became the arid high desert of Ghost Ranch. Millions of years later Navajos and various other tribes roamed the valley. The Spaniards settled here and then came the cattle rustlers, the wranglers and the dudes. Arthur Pack, one of the country’s first environmentalists, bought the Ranch and sold a little piece of it to Georgia O’Keeffe. Scientists took respite time here from the stresses of building the nuclear bomb at Los Alamos. Famous guests have included Charles Lindbergh, Ansel Adams and John Wayne. Arthur Pack and his wife Phoebe gave the Ranch to the Presbyterian Church in 1955 and even though Georgia O’Keeffe wanted the Ranch for herself she eventually became friends of the first director of Ghost Ranch, Jim Hall. The history of Ghost Ranch reads like a novel.
The visibility of over 200 million years of Earth’s story seen in the landscape, along with twelve thousand years of human history, shape the spiritual significance of this sacred place, creating a strong refuge for the soul. The beauty and vibrant colors of the desert will guide our inner journey into prayer and help teach us of God’s purpose and design for our lives and for the world in which we live.
Our daily pilgrim communal times will include those disciplines which school our eyes in gazing with love and appreciation, our ears in listening to the sounds of silence, and our hearts in opening more fully with compassion. Morning and evening guided meditations and contemplative silence will ground our daily activities. Throughout the week there will be Sabbaths for rest and reflection, hiking, journaling, art or other personal interests.
An ancient story tells of three pilgrims floating on the sea in a small boat that had neither sails nor rudder. When asked of their destination, the pilgrims replied that their destination was in the hands of God, and they would go where the tides of the Spirit took them. In a special sense the week we will share together in the sacred places of the desert is a similar kind of pilgrimage. We will let the Spirit guide us each day, our destination being in the hands of God. We will not require a specific outcome.
During our week together we will enter into this sacred space as we allow the Spirit to build us into a pilgrim community:
*As we engage spiritual practices that school our senses to experience the Presence;
*As we meet in prayerful conversations with those who have gained deep wisdom from their desert experience;
*As we visit special sites where sacredness—the ‘thin places’—is experienced even more keenly, including worshipping at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert; making an intentional prayer walk at the healing shrine of El Santuario de Chimayo; visiting the Dar al Islam Mosque, and the White Place that inspired Georgia O’Keefe; experiencing an ancient sacred site of Native American neighbors; praying with the Los Hermanos in their Morada; and walking along the ridges and mesas of Ghost Ranch itself.
Each of these signal beacons will help us mark the deep, inner discoveries that the Spirit is preparing to give us.
Photo from the website of The Sierra Club. © 2014 Sierra Club. All Rights Reserved.
The group will have a maximum of 12 participants, plus leaders. Clergy or lay…young adult or retiree…United Methodist or not…cradle Christian or spiritual seeker—you are welcome. What you are looking for, your intentions for this experience, will in great measure determine what you will be prepared to see on this journey. Therefore, we invite you to consider what you want this time to be. You may want to use the following questions to guide you—perhaps through the practice of journaling—as you are shaping your intentions of this pilgrimage experience:
*What prompts me now to want to join in this particular pilgrimag?
*What present spiritual practices do I want to intensify?
*What discernment do I need for my present season of life?
*What do I need to now release in preparation for this pilgrimage?
The Rev. Todd Bartlett is the director of the Alton L. Collins Retreat Center. Todd will lead the preparatory retreat in Oregon, and is in charge of the group’s logistics while traveling. An ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, Todd has extensive training in spiritual formation, and will be a fellow pilgrim at Ghost Ranch.
The Rev. Bert Scott is a retired United Methodist minister now living in Albuquerque. He worked in campus ministry at Oregon State University in Corvallis, and then served as the senior pastor of the Corvallis First United Methodist Church. Bert has a long association with Ghost Ranch, and has led a number of “Wilderness Pilgrimage” events there. He finds northern New Mexico to be a region deeply connected to its history, rich in diversity and magnificent landscpaes, and saturated with a sense of the Sacred.
The Rev. Wallace Ford is a retired Disciples of Christ minister; he has conducted pilgrimages for Ghost Ranch for almost 20 years. He is an experienced spirtual director, retreat leader, and seminar instructor. Wally and Bert will lead the on-site portion of the pilgrimage, drawing on their extensive knowledge of both the geographic area and the spiritual opportunities of a desert sojourn.
The program starts March 5 with an overnight stay at the Collins Retreat Center, where the group will begin its formation experience. Lodging is double occupancy throughout the program. While at Collins, participants will stay in hotel-style rooms with private baths; meals are served family-style in the dining room. Participants will fly together on March 6 from the Portland airport to Albuquerque, NM, and then travel by van on to Ghost Ranch (about two hours from Albuquerque). While at the Ranch, the lodging is in spacious, comfortably appointed rooms that sit in the historical sections of Ghost Ranch. Every room shares a bath with an adjoining room; the bath is located between the two rooms. The formal program concludes on March 12 when the van returns to Albuquerque; from there each person may either fly back to Portland with the rest of the group or continue as individual travelers in New Mexico or elsewhere.
The total cost for the pilgrimage $1750. This includes the Collins retreat, roundtrip airfare from Portland to Albuquerque, transportation and lodging between Albuquerque and Ghost Ranch on both ends of the program, as well as the fees (including room/board) for the Ghost Ranch program itself.
An initial deposit of $100 must be paid when you register in order to reserve a spot in the group. Half of the total is due by Jan. 4, with the balance due by Feb. 15. If this poses a difficulty for you, please talk with Todd to make other arrangements.