Next Retreat

Tahoe 2019 with Dr. Rachel Harding and Dr. Wendy Farley


Special Guest: Rachel Harding & Wendy Farley

When: August 4-9, 2019

Where: Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center, Lake Tahoe, NV

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Theme:  Ancestors of our Faith: Poetry & Women’s Power in Cross-cultural Perspective.

Description: How can we draw resilience and encouragement from the lives of our female ancestors – even when their lives were traumatic or impacted by structures of violence and inequality?  How do the poetic orientations of women mystics, activists and writers help us cultivate a more hopeful vision for ourselves and our world?  How do women who sustained their own humanity under great duress, help us learn to sustain our own and recognize the most profound humanity in one another? Together, we will explore these questions.

In this retreat, Dr. Wendy Farley and Dr. Rachel Elizabeth Harding lead us in a series of conversations and reflections about poetry – and a vital, poetic orientation to life – in the spiritual traditions, creativity and wisdom of women.

Combining their scholarly and creative interests, Drs. Farley and Harding help us make connections between the writings of women mystics in Europe and the lived spirituality of Black women in the contemporary Afro-Atlantic diaspora.  Farley’s research on women’s medieval contemplative practices, and Harding’s work on women’s mysticism and activism in Afro-Brazilian Candomblé and African American Christianity, are both informed by the professors’ shared love of poetry as a mode of human being in the world.  

So, they will share work from Natasha Trethewey, Lucille Clifton, Mary Oliver and Naomi Shihab Nye; and they will tell us about Mechtilde of Magdeburg and Mãe Stella de Oxôssi; Marguerite Porete and Harriet Tubman, all of whom used their powerful intimate connection with spirit to create new possibilities for the people around them.

Format: Each day includes lecture and dialogue with Drs. Harding and Farley; small group community around spiritual reading; corporate and individual times of silence and contemplation; worship with Eucharist; and communing with God through movement, art, and nature.

Location: Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center, Lake Tahoe
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  • $795 per person, shared accommodation
  • $995 per person, single accommodation, pending availability
  • Work scholarships ($200) are available on a first-come basis (shared room only)
  • Diversity (PoC) scholarships ($490) are available
  • Seminary Students Scholarship (email Director Carolyn Foster)
  • A $300 non-refundable deposit is due upon registration
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Rachel Elizabeth Harding, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Indigenous Spiritual Traditions in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado — Denver.  A native of Georgia, a writer, historian and poet, Rachel is a specialist in religions of the Afro-Atlantic diaspora and studies the relationship between religion, creativity and s­ocial justice activism in cross-cultural perspective. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and holds an MFA in creative writing from Brown University and a PhD in history from the University of Colorado Boulder.  Harding is author of A Refuge in Thunder: Candomblé and Alternative Spaces of Blackness as well as numerous poems and essays.  Rachel’s second book, Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism and Mothering, combines her own writings with the autobiographical reflections of her mother, Rosemarie Freeney Harding, on their family history and the role of compassion and spirituality in African American social justice organizing. Rachel is an ebomi (elder initiate) in the Terreiro do Cobre Candomble community in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, where she has been a participant for over 20 years.

Wendy Farley, Ph.D. is Professor of Christian Spirituality and holder of the Rice Family Chair in Spirituality at San Francisco Theological Seminary. She is considered a leading theologian, having written extensively on women theologians and mystics, religious dialogue, classical texts, contemporary ethical issues, and contemplative practices. Her teaching and research interests include women theologians, Buddhist-Christian dialogue, spirituality and social justice, classical texts, and contemplative practices. She has authored  Tragic Vision and Divine Compassion: A Contemporary Theodicy (Westminster John Knox, 1990), Eros for the Other: Retaining Truth in a Pluralistic World (Penn State: 1996), The Wounding and Healing of Desire: Weaving Heaven and Earth (Westminster John Knox), Gathering Those Driven Away: a Theology of Incarnation (Westminster John Knox, 2011), and her latest book, The Thirst of God: Contemplating God’s Love with Three Women Mystics (Westminster John Knox, 2015), explores the spirituality of medieval mystics Marguerite Porete, Mechthild of Magdeburg, and Julian of Norwich.