Merton in the Mountains: A Silent Retreat

August 24, 2019 | Silence

First we’ll get to the details, then the back story. I have stepped in to lead the 26th annual Merton in the Mountains silent retreat at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, N.Y. — in the gorgeous Adirondack Mountains — Friday to Sunday, Sept. 6 to 8. There are still open spots for this weekend opportunity to step away from the busyness of everyday life and unplug, be still and just listen. As if that’s not enough, we’ll have talks, moving meditations, mindful meals, and the chance (weather permitting) to hike, kayak, or just kick back in an Adirondack chair on one of the many decks and soak in the silence and the boundless natural beauty. It’s only $130, all inclusive (program, accommodations, meals.)

Morning coffee as the fog lifts.

Now the back story. I first attended the Merton in the Mountains retreat in 2008. It was my first-ever silent retreat and my first time at Pyramid. I was nervous going in, wondering if I could maintain the silence. I left transformed and committed to regular periods of silence and stillness, whether on retreat or on a cushion in my sunporch at home. The retreat was run by Walt Chura back then, a devoted Merton follower and secular Franciscan who guided us, offered us spiritual direction, and made us feel like this retreat was exactly where we needed to be. Walt stopped leading the retreat a few years ago. This year was supposed to be a special treat. Sister Monica Murphy, CSJ, director of Pyramid Life Center and a larger-than-life beloved figure in our diocese, was scheduled to lead it, but she was killed in a tragic auto accident earlier this month. A substitute leader was needed; that’s where I come in, and I am beyond honored. There is no way I can fill Sister Monica’s shoes as leader of this retreat — I wouldn’t dare try — but I will lead from the heart of my own love of Thomas Merton, in the spirit of Walt Chura, and in memory of Sister Monica.

Stillness, Adirondack-style

If you have time and want to give this retreat a try, think about it, or email me and I’ll be happy to talk to you about what to expect. Silence is the main thing. We’ll have regular “conferences” related to Merton, prayer in the mornings and evenings, silent meals taken together, Mass on Sunday, and time to just relax and listen for the still small voice. Pyramid Life Center is a beautiful place to spend a weekend — a big open lake, with loons swimming and calling; trails to hike, rocks to sit on, a little meditation cabin, a log chapel. It really is something to experience.

You can find more information about Pyramid Life Center HERE. If you’re ready to sign up, HERE is the direct link to the registration page. (It’s listed under “Thomas Merton Silent Retreat” in the drop down.) I hope I see you Sept. 6-8. If you can’t join us, please pray for those of us who will be making this interior journey. And please pray for the repose of the soul of Sister Monica. Pyramid will not be the same without her.

One of my favorite images from Pyramid Lake, taken during a Merton in the Mountains retreat. (All photos by Mary DeTurris Poust. Do not reproduce or use without permission.)


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