Mysticism and the Desert Landscape

August 25, 2013 - August 31, 2013


Workshop ID: G13CDS841
Dates: August 25, 2013 – August 31, 2013 Price: $385.00

Located two miles from the main campus, Casa del Sol is a retreat house at Ghost Ranch dedicated to deeper spiritual contemplation. In 2013 many workshops which are conducive to small group work and contemplative space are being held at Casa del Sol. These workshops are designated with the sun symbol beside the title throughout workshop description pages.

There is a difference between “knowing about” and “knowing.” Mysticism is a threefold path that leads one into a deeper knowledge of God through Purgation, the emptying of oneself; Illumination, the waiting of the self for God’s light; and Unification, the becoming of oneself in knowing God even in the unknowing of God.

Evelyn Underhill in her book, “The Mystics of the Church,” gives this definition of mysticism: “Mysticism, according to its historical and psychological definitions, is the direct intuition or experience of God; and a mystic is a person who has, to a greater or less degree, such a direct experience–one whose religion and life are centered, not merely on an accepted belief or practice, but on the which (s)he regards as first-hand knowledge.”

The desert landscape lends itself to this particular way of knowing God. There is an emptiness to the high desert. The light of the high desert beckons us to experience illumination in new ways. In the high desert we are not our own, but belong to God and to the landscape.

As we grow deeper into our relationship with God we will make journeys to “The White Place” near Abiquiu and Christ in the Desert Monastery. There will be a day of silence within our community of Casa del Sol in which participants will be invited to allow the experience of mysticism to settle into their hearts and souls.

Sacred space is essential to the mystical journey. Participants will be encouraged to allow themselves time to be alone and to ponder what God is working in them. Many of us come from days filled with busyness and expectations. This time in the desert is to be a time set apart to begin to “know”–to simply “be.”
The paths upon which we will travel have been worn into the desert by countless others, Evelyn Underhill, Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Merton, Phoebe Palmer, Augustine, George Fox and many more. We will be in good company.

Suggested reading: Mysticism: “The Big Book of Christian Mysticism” by Carl McColman. This book is a very readable and thorough book on mysticism. There are many resources listed at the back of the book for further reading. “The Solace of Fierce Landscapes” by Belden C. Lane. This book is not a quick read, but it is the best book I’ve encountered that deals with both mysticism and the desert landscape. If you only have time to read one book, this is the book to read. The landscape: “Valley of Shining Stone: The Story of Abiquiu” by Lesley Poling-Kempes. Retreat participants always have questions about the area surrounding Ghost Ranch. This book will answer all of your questions in a very interesting and informative way. Another enjoyable read about the area is Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather.


MargaretGuelkerMargaret Guelker lives in Andover, MN and is the executive pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Blaine, MN. Her interest in the healing aspects of the desert have led her to Ghost Ranch. She is deeply interested in the spirituality of the desert landscape as a path to inner peace and wholeness.She received her Doctor of Ministry degree at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Alexandra House, a shelter for domestic violence victims.

Need more info? Call us at (505) 685 – 4333 ext 4152

Three ways to register:

  1. Download printable registration form and mail to: Ghost Ranch Registrar, HC77 Box 11, Abiquiu, NM 87510. OR scan and email your completed form to: [email protected]
  2. Register by telephone at 877-804-4678, extension 4152 or 4155 — available Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. MST.
Categories: Retreats  |  Spiritual Direction  |  Spirituality