Evening Practice at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension

Evening Practice at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension

Fri, February 1 Sun, February 3

Fri, February 1, 5:00 pm

Fri, February 1, 5:00 pm – Sun, February 3, 1:30 pm

In the 15th century the Japanese Zen poet Ikkyu wrote:

Every day, priests minutely examine the Law
And endlessly chant complicated sutras.
Before doing that, though, they should learn
How to read the love letters sent by the wind
and rain, the snow and moon.

Then and now, coming back to the present moment and all it contains, whether it is a splendid moonrise or a disquieting tear drop, is at the heart of mindfulness practice. In a 1997 Dharma talk, Thich Nhat Hanh explained:

Mindfulness is the capacity of being aware of what is there in the present moment. When I drink some water, I can drink mindfully or I can drink while thinking of other things. ... By drinking my water in mindfulness, I am going home. In that home I touch myself and I touch the water I drink. It’s not abstract. In our daily life we eat, we drink, we shake hands, but we are not really there. We are lost in the past, in the future, lost in our worries, our fear. ... Everything is superficial, everything is like a ghost. To practice mindfulness is to produce your true presence. Your true presence means the presence of your body and your mind together in the here and the now.

During our 2019 Still Water Winter Retreat we will explore together what the Buddha termed the Four Foundations of Mindfulness: our bodies, feelings, mental formations, and objects of mind. And we will practice being consistently present in our sitting and walking meditations, and also in our cooking, eating, strolling, relaxing, and other daily activities. You are invited to join us.

CAM02463 (1)

The nurturing environment of this retreat includes a supportive community of fellow practitioners and the quiet grounds of the Am Kolel Sanctuary Retreat Center, nestled in Montgomery County's agricultural preserve.

The retreat will be led by Mitchell Ratner, Senior Teacher of the Still Water Mindfulness Practice Center, and by other experienced members of the Still Water community.

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Retreat Schedule:

We will gather on Friday evening for a silent pot-luck dinner and a sitting.

Saturday morning, after breakfast, we will break the silence for introductions and a short talk on practices for developing our mindfulness, concentration, and insight.

The rest of Saturday, and early Sunday, will be periods of guided and self-guided formal sitting meditation, group walking meditation, eating meditation, and time for mindful walks, naps, or exercise.

Late morning on Sunday we will come out of our silence and share together our experiences, challenges, and insights. The retreat will end after lunch on Sunday, about 1:30 p.m.

Location and Responsibilities:

The retreat will be held at the Sanctuary Retreat Center in Beallsville, Maryland (about 33 miles from downtown Silver Spring).

The community will share responsibilities for the three meals on Saturday and the two meals on Sunday. Each participant will be assigned to a meal team and will contribute to the purchasing and silent preparation of one meal.


The Still Water MPC has established a sliding scale for our retreats so that all may attend:

Everyone will be staying in the spacious and comfortable rooms of the Sanctuary Retreat Center. The suggested donation for the weekend is $220 per person; the benefactor donation is $275 per person; and the limited income donation is $165 per person.

You are welcome to contribute any amount between the limited-income contribution and the benefactor contribution (or more if you wish), in accord with the urgings of your heart and your means and circumstances. If contributing at even the limited-income level would be a hardship, please let us know and we will endeavor to make other arrangements with you.

The Main House at Am Kolel Nature Sanctuary
The Main House at Am Kolel Nature Sanctuary

NOTE: The accommodations and expenses cost is $160 per person. All contributions above this amounts are considered to be voluntary, tax-deductible contributions.

Cancellation Policy:

If the registrant cancels eight days or more before an event, the entire amount will be refunded. If the registrant cancels seven days or fewer before the event, 75% of the amount paid will be refunded.

Register now


Please contact the Retreat Registrar, Gary Stone, at garold.stone "at" gmail.com or (301) 604-6227.

Am Kolel Sanctuary Retreat Center

19520 Darnestown Rd

Beallsville, MD 20839


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