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March 2018 : Event Details
Fri, Mar 16 - 6:30pm
Sun, Mar 18 - 1:00pm
Belden C Lane
Belden C Lane, Backpacking with Saints
The Great Conversation Retreat: Nature & the Care of the Soul
Delve into spirituality through nature with famed author Belden Lane
Belden C. Lane

Thomas Berry lamented that we as humans have dropped out of the Great Conversation with the natural world—a dialogue that, for centuries, was vitally alive in the history of the saints. This weekend retreat at Prairiewoods (120 East Boyson Road in Hiawatha) is with special guest facilitator Belden Lane, famed author and storyteller! We’ll be looking at archetypal teachers in nature and the saints (or sages) who have sought them out as spiritual guides: Hildegard of Bingen and trees, Catherine of Siena and fire, Teresa of Avila and water, Ignatius Loyola and caves. Belden Lane will relate each of these to developmental life stages on the spiritual journey, drawing on what he’s learned from his own spiritual mentor, a cottonwood tree near his home. The retreat aims at picking up our human end of the dialogue through storytelling, visual images, ritual, contemplative prayer and time spent in nature.

Belden C. Lane, noted author, storyteller and wilderness backpacker, is Professor Emeritus of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University—a Presbyterian minister teaching with the Jesuits for many years. His books include Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice and The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality. Belden’s book Backpacking With the Saints has been praised by other noted authors:

“Belden C. Lane has written a lovely book that seamlessly brings together two rich genres: travel narrative and spiritual memoir. The notion of a spiritual journey, of course, is central to almost every religious tradition, but the author enlivens that tradition as he shares personal and heartfelt stories about his own peregrinations and muses on topics as varied as solitude, ecology, backpacking, beauty, and prayer; and on people as varied as St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Dag Hammarskjöld, John Muir, and Bruce Springsteen. A thoroughly delightful book.”

—James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage

“If the earlier centuries of Christianity had been as honest, emotionally descriptive, and spiritually helpful as Belden Lane is here, we would have a very different notion of religion today. Such wisdom as this will literally ‘save the soul’ of many a spiritual seeker.”

—Richard Rohr, OFM, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico

“The only problem with this remarkable book is that it cannot be read rightly from a comfortable chair. As Lane and the rest of the saints in these pages insist, what the soul most needs is not found in safe places but in wild ones, where the dangers are as real as the courage they call forth. So find a high rock, a far hill, or a patch of desert that scares you a little and let this book persuade you that you are exactly where you need to be.”

—Barbara Brown Taylor, Author, Learning to Walk in the Dark

This retreat is expected to sell out, so don’t miss this chance to learn from an incredible teacher!

The cost of this weekend retreat is $230 and includes sessions, lodging and all meals (Saturday breakfast through Sunday lunch). The commuter fee is $180 and includes sessions, Saturday lunch and dinner, and Sunday lunch. A non-refundable deposit of $25 is required at registration. (Full payment is required to register online. If you prefer to pay the $25 registration fee now and the balance when you arrive, please call 319-395-6700.) If you want to stay in a Hermitage, you also will need to register by phone. If you have dietary restrictions that affect your health, please call or send an email to 

Regular Registration Fees
$180.00 Commuter
$230.00 Single w/ Shared Bath
Program Code: 18PGR10584
Good place for a control!