PSR alumni offer growth, connection to physical world

March 23, 2010

At Heart’s Rest Retreat Center in rural British Columbia, visitors don’t merely kick back with a cocktail and enjoy the view. The retreat’s founders and owners, PSR graduates Therese DesCamp and George Meier, offer a much deeper and more meaningful experience for clergy, lay people, and youth who stay at the property. “We could provide a different way of letting go by embracing both a spiritual broad path and a physical connection to the universe,” says DesCamp (MDiv 1992). “We offer this space, both a physical and spiritual one, where people can connect to God, themselves, and the planet.”

That connection to the earth is not just figurative. In addition to one-on-one spiritual guidance meetings, silent meditation practice, and discernment opportunities, visitors work for an hour a day on the property, turning compost or harvesting potatoes. The labor can serve as an opportunity for spiritual reflection and paradigm shift. “When you treat the earth as your partner, it’s a complex and homely relationship, and your heart is opened to the physical world in a powerful way,” DesCamp explains.

Being removed from one’s “regular” life gives visitors a unique perspective on their paths, DesCamp and Meier (MDiv 1992) explain. But the tranquility, sense of connectedness, and purpose gained from a few days or week of contemplation don’t have to be left behind when visitors leave the Canadian site.

“When you go on vacation, you get a break from life. When you go on a pilgrimage, on the other hand, you get a change from life but you also bring back a different conceptual frame for who you are and what you’re doing,” DesCamp says. “We hope that people leave Heart’s Rest with a different relationship with the physical world and begin to understand the web of life they’re a part of. The challenge is to love this world with all its mess and suffering, to love it more deeply.”