A Hidden Haven of Peace, Healing & Spiritual Diversity
By Nan Henderson
Five years ago I found a hidden gem at 7200 feet in the Sequoias called Far Horizons. Described as “a retreat center,” “a theosophical camp,” and “a haven for those seeking wellness for the body and spiritual guidance for the soul” in its promotional literature, Far Horizons has been pivotal in the restoration of my personal spiritual connection.
Since I was severely burned by some of the self-serving, personal-power-seeking “gurus” of the budding “New Age” movement in the early 1970s, I had steered clear of “retreat-type” settings. But when I saw the diversity of spiritual traditions and expressions included in the Far Horizons brochure, indicating the clear recognition that Spirit dances through an array of forms, I sensed the place “was different.” I anxiously hoped, that first summer, to find safety, respect for the uniqueness of each person’s journey, and some much-needed healing.
The small “chalet room” I had reserved was rustic. This was what I expected in a “mountain spiritual retreat” center. But I discovered something else I didn’t expect. Someone put a lot of caring into this place: The shower was spotless and had lots of hot water. There were extra pillows and blankets and a nice bath mat and rug. Everything, in fact, was in perfect working order. And the beds were amazingly comfortable.
In addition to all the “little touches” of caring, I have come to truly appreciate the variety of accommodations offered at Far Horizons as well as the reasonable cost: some people camp, others stay in small rooms, still others choose the chalet rooms with adjoining indoor bathrooms, as well as a refrigerator and stove. Several delightful cabins, complete with large decks that overlook pure silence and a sky hung with huge stars at night, are also available.
As I participated in my first four-day program — which included three excellent vegetarian meals eaten under a canopy of trees; a morning program session in the mountain overlook amphitheater; afternoon free-time to hike, swim, explore, draw, read, nap or talk; and an evening gathering by a huge fireplace in the community “hall” — my anxieties dissipated and my enthusiasm grew. Most healing for me, however, were the messages given on the first morning by the program presenter: “If you want to come to the program each morning and each evening, do it. If you need to do something else, then do that instead.” Since that program was based on the theosophical classic, The Voice of Silence, written over a hundred years ago by H.P. Blavatsky, this message was “walking the talk” since, of course, “the voice of silence” is that unique knowing about what is right for us that we find buried deep within. The honest encouragement to all program participants to offer feedback, to dialogue, and — if it was honest for us — to disagree, was further evidence of the camp’s adherence to the theosophical belief in the “no-one-right-way” nature of spiritual unfolding.
I have returned to Far Horizons every year, and two summers ago began offering programs using the emerging strengths-based resiliency framework to heal emotional wounds and trauma.
Programs at Far Horizons begin this year on June 18 with a four-day Summer Solstice Celebration specifically designed for families with children of all ages, and continue through Labor Day weekend. Program fee per four-day session is $70, and lodging costs (which include three meals daily) range from $25 to $100 per night. Continuing Education Credit for Social Workers and Counselors is offered for some programs.
Other programs scheduled this summer include Sacred Circle Dance, Setting Your Heart on Fire, The Way of Council, Fear and the Spiritual Path, Resiliency Approaches for Healing Emotional Wounds, Feldenkrais, The Ramayana, Zen Buddhist Meditation, and The Works of James Hillman and Thomas Moore in Everyday Life.
More information is available by calling (562) 425-6084.
Nan Henderson, M.S.W., is a national and international speaker on resiliency, wellness, and strengths approaches to therapy and human development. She is President of Resiliency In Action, Inc., a training and publishing company in San Diego, and author/editor of four books on fostering resiliency. Last summer, Nan was featured as a resiliency expert on National Public Radio. She is the creator of The Resiliency Quiz, available at www.resiliency.com Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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