Stillness Retreats

Monadnock Meeting held its first Stillness Retreat in February 1999. We organized it in response to a letter from the Yearly Meeting describing retreats that had been offered by Charlotte Fardelman, a member of Dover Friends Meeting who lives in Portsmouth, NH. After the first retreat, participants wanted more. They became a regular event, happening four times a year, roughly at the end of January, April, July and October.

The term "stillness" does not mean keeping physically still, but refers to the practice of silence as a way of stilling the mind and reaching a deeper level of calm. It may include prayer, meditation, journaling, drawing, reading, walking outside, or it may simply be a time of rest. It is different for everyone.

Participants gather in the Meeting House for a retreat on a Friday evening, and a share a potluck meal with conversation. We bring bedding, and settle into various rooms in the Meeting House. Before going into stillness, the group sets up a schedule to facilitate spending the next twenty-four hours together without talking. Then we go a bit deeper and share what has been happening in our lives. We may talk about concerns we intend to work on as we seek healing or spiritual insight.

After the dishes are washed, we gather in the Meeting Room and enter the silence. We hold this silence through the night and the next day, sharing the time and space. Often some of the group will gather at dawn by the east window of the worship room to watch the sunrise together. Except for times set for meals and the closing circle, we have the gift of unstructured time. This is a precious opportunity for people with busy lives (most of us) to slow down.

Some of us leave Saturday evening, and some choose to stay through Sunday morning. On Saturday evening we gather for a closing circle. Whoever wishes to speak does so, allowing a space between each speaker. Someone might share a picture or a leaf, a birdsong or a poem. We appreciate that we have formed a community during the retreat, and that it is about to end. We thank each other and say good-bye.

Our retreats are open to anyone interested in experiencing spiritual refreshment through stillness. They are free of charge, although a modest voluntary donation is appreciated for use of the building. For more information, please contact Denise (dginzler AT or Kate (kkerman AT

- Denise Ginzler