A Pilgrimage to the Sacred Heart of Italy
the 6. higher-we summer retreat in assisi and the hills of umbria
from July 31 to August 7, 2020
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.
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. Inspired and transported by the heart-opening atmosphere of Assisi, we continue our pilgirmage 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 morning yoga, 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.
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. 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.
This year, the retreat will also be 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.
Yoga Practice. Every morning you will be invited to experience your own physical presence in a subtle way. This movement and stretching of the body supports alertness and openness so that you can perceive and feel your physical and spiritual presence at increasingly subtle levels. The yoga practice also supports the intensive sitting practice in meditation.
Each day we will walk in the hills surrounding the Casa della Pace. 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.
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. With social distancing, we can accommodate only about 17 persons.