Our Second Pilgrimage
to the Sacred Heart of Italy

the 7. higher-we summer retreat in assisi and the hills of umbria

from August 1-11, 2021

Assisi is one of the most powerful spiritual places in the world. For nearly 800 years, pilgrims have come to encounter St. Francis, the humble, God-intoxicated, lover of Nature and the path of simplicity. His beautiful poem, Canticle of the Creatures, written when he was near death, is a testament to the Living Spirit in all of creation. Today it has perhaps even more relevance. as we realize our impact on the ecosystem of Earth and all her creatures.

Less well known, and equally important, is St. Clare, who was Francis’s friend, confidant, and partner in Spirit. Our focus for this, our second global pilgrimage to sacred Assisi, will be on their unique relationship and the power of spiritual friendship.

On retreat, we begin with Assisi, drinking in the powerful field that vibrates with silence, and take a look into another world–medieval monastic life. We will meditate in the Basilica and in the forest monastery where St. Francis prayed. Together, we’ll explore how the sacred spaces of Assisi deepen our meditation practice. We will go to San Damiano, where St. Francis first received the demand to transform the Church and where St. Clare died after finally having her Order of nuns accepted into the Church. Inspired and transported by the heart-opening atmosphere of Assisi, we continue our pilgrimage into the lush and wild hills of Umbria, where we will spend most of our time.

In the Umbrian hills, we will settle into Casa della Pace, a small retreat center in a once-abandoned medieval chapel, which was founded by Santi Borgni. Santi was inspired by the teachings of J. Krishnamurti, the 20th century Indian sage, to create a space where people could meet deeply in dialogue. (He also is our host and an amazing vegetarian cook.) At the Casa, we will begin a schedule of intensive meditation with breaks for conscious movement, walks through the Umbrian hills, and delicious Italian vegetarian meals.

This retreat is a co-creative process. Starting with the meditations, we work with teachings, prayers, poems, and music from many different paths and traditions as a guide into the mysterious depth that lives within and between us. We meditate in inner dialogue with them. Then, we open from the empty vastness of meditation into dialogue. This dialogue, and the whole retreat, is a training ground for intuitive perception, in which we not only experience the mystery of living presence, but also learn to express it together. In being simply present and available for what is, the possibility manifests for wisdom to open in the space between us. In this way, we experience the creative seeds of the future calling us forward.

For a tentative schedule, click here.

Your Guides

Elizabeth Debold and Thomas Steininger, the co-founders of One World in Dialogue, have been guiding others in meditation and exploring the potential of collective emergence for nearly three decades. For them, meditation is a critical foundation for the development of a new culture rooted in nonseparation and a shift from a hyperindividuated “I” to a co-conscious and co-creative “We.” Thomas has developed emergent dialogue as a new cultural practice that brings this new We alive. They are known internationally for awakening individuals and groups to this new, transindividual We potential. They also are deeply fortunate to be working for more than a decade with a core group committed to developing the collective potential of emergence. From left: Maria Zacherl, Nadja Rosmann, Mike Kauschke, Marlene Potthoff.

The meditation practice that we encourage in the retreat is a radical openness–letting go into open awareness. This helps to build a tangible field of presence together. We work with short, carefully selected works from the spiritual traditions of the world and various mystics, poets and even musicians such as Laotse, St. Teresa of Avila, Sri Aurobindo, Vimala Thakar, Rilke, Thomas Merton, St. Hildegard of Bingen, or Arvo Part who support us each in their own special way to engage with the unspeakable. Through the practice of Lectio Divina, which involves a deep and communal reading and response to sacred texts, we penetrate the layers of meaning in the reading. The texts are selected as the retreat is happening so that they are responsive, and co-created, by the energy and needs of the retreat.

The on-site retreat is the center of an online global pilgrimage to Italy from people around the world, which will deepen the field of meditation. We will create an Earth mandala, centered in sacred Italy.

Conscious movement & walks in the hills. Developing the sensitivity of our bodies is important in order to perceive and feel your physical and spiritual presence at increasingly subtle levels. (See below for more about our movement offering this year.) On our daily walks, wild rambles with often spectacular views greet us as we step in silence through the countryside of Umbria.

We will also engage in emergent dialogue. When we enter dialogue from the depths of silence, a new way of being together, of co-creative we-space, opens up. Dialogue in this way is a new form of intersubjective consciousness work–meaning that it emerges in the living space between us.  Our experience of the world changes through encountering this space of emergent potential. The world of subject and object is revealed to us as a complex, nonseparate, co-creative intelligence. This dialogical intelligence is created through the free choice of participating individuals at the same time that it opens our perception to the wholeness of reality.

The dialogue practice usually begins in the second half of the retreat, so that our perception has become refined through meditation before we engage with language.

Melaine MacDonald - Conscious Movement

We are delighted to be joined by Melaine MacDonald, movement artist and professor in the Eurythmy Department at the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences in Germany, to lead us in conscious movement each day. Melaine’s love for movement and dance as a means of expressing and deepening the spiritual complexity of the human being has led her to experiment with new ways to unite the inner with the outer.

Casa della Pace

Casa della Pace is situated on a small hilltop at an altitude of about 650m with breathtaking views of the surrounding Umbrian hills. It was once a small medieval church, long abandoned, and renovated as a retreat center by founder, Santi Borgni. Inspired by the dialogues of J. Krishnamurti, Santi hosts dialogues in this tradition–and will also prepare vibrant vegetarian food to lift our spirits and energy during the retreat.

PLEASE NOTE: The Casa is an intimate setting, with a normal capacity of about 25 guests. Depending on social distancing requirements, we may only be able to offer 17 places.

Retreat Accommodations & Prices

Single Room

The seminar fee for 10 days is 890€. At the Casa, the rate for a single room from 3.-11. Aug. with Full Pension is 584€ (73€/day) Meals and accommodation for two nights in Assisi are paid by the individual (ca. 250€ incl. max.).


Double Room

The seminar fee for 10 days is 890€. At the Casa, the rate for a double room from 3.-11. Aug. with Full Pension is 504€ (63€/day) Meals and accommodation for two nights in Assisi are paid by the individual (ca. 250€ incl. max.)


Yurt or Tent

The seminar fee for 10 days is 890€. At the Casa, the rate for a single room from 3.-11. Aug. with Full Pension is 416€ (52€/day) Meals and accommodation for two nights in Assisi are paid by the individual (ca. 250€ incl. max.