In October, I scheduled a long overdue quiet retreat. Years ago I took a similar getaway to do some soul-searching when I was at a crossroads in my career, and found the Vision of Peace Hermitages in Pevely, Missouri, which is about a 30 minute drive south from St. Louis. On my first trip there in 2003, I spent three days in the quiet surroundings, and so I chose to do another mid-week stint this year.
Of course, it was a prime time of the year for the changing colors of the trees. Nestled on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, the hermitages are surrounded by privately owned forests of trees. Most of the hermitages are built into the hill, with the ceiling, floor and three of four walls touching the surrounding earth. A single exterior face of each hermitage is exposed to the elements, so they are very energy-efficient, requiring little to heat and cool the space.
Three of the hermitages offer a grand view of the river, with potentially spectacular sunrises in the morning across the Mighty Mississippi. They sport majestic names like Glimpse of Glory, Tree of Life and Emmaus. A fourth hermitage, aptly named Vision of Peace, shares a view of the river and the woods, and seemed the perfect comingling of two beautiful scenes. Another four hermitages have a view of the woods, offering more privacy and solitude, with names like Beautiful Earth and Holy Wisdom. The last hermitage, called The Upper Room, is more like a conventional cabin. This space is accessible for wheelchairs, and includes a loft area to accommodate guests who might require an assistant.
The hermitages are modestly furnished to encourage living simply. Each unit has a twin bed, rocking chair and a desk, and a private bath and kitchenette that includes a small refrigerator, cooktop, coffee maker, toaster and microwave. The rooms have everything you need to take care of yourself during your stay, including dinnerware and cookware for most any type meal. There are fresh linens, blankets and pillows, and an assortment of towels and basic bathroom necessities. All you need to bring is comfortable clothing, personal toiletry items, and whatever food items you need to prepare meals. Of course, you’ll want to bring books, music and any other personal items that will make your stay more comfortable.
This is a great place to detach and de-clutter. I chose to take a time-out from “waves and wires” – leaving my iPad and cell phone in the car to more completely disconnect from the outside world. There are no televisions, radios or wireless internet, intentionally excluded to help guests get away from the news and noise of their everyday lives. You can spend the time doing those things you never have time to do, like read, write, or express your artistic yearnings. You can also take quiet walks in the woods, or just sit in the solitude and reconnect with nature. The only spoiler is an occasional train or barge, with disappointingly loud diesel engines to remind you of the busyness of our commercial world.
Vision of Peace is great place for a personal retreat, but you can also have group retreats and take advantage of the chapel, library, deck and screened-in porch for gatherings. Much will depend on the size of your group and the needs of other guests, but the facility’s director, Larry Ponder, will make every effort to accommodate your requests.
I encourage you to take your own time-out, and treat yourself or a loved one to some well-deserved quiet time. The suggested donation is very modest and affordable, and gift certificates are available for the perfect holiday gift – for that special someone who doesn’t need more things. It will be time and money well spent!
This was published in the Going Green section of the December 2012 issue of Spirit Seeker magazine.