"Behold the birds of the air... Consider the lilies of the field..." (Matthew 6)
So often in Scripture we find lessons drawn from nature. Now is your opportunity to open your heart to the natural world, open your heart to communion with our Creator God.
Nature therapy and Christian contemplation go hand in hand. Ladies, take time away with us, and rediscover the delight of God's creation -- the natural world around us. We will step away from our daily grind, our many responsibilities, and dwell in God's presence, allowing nature therapy to spurn our worship of and delight in Him.
Much of our modern lives are spent in the right hemisphere of our brains -- in logic, in problem-solving, in projects, in "purpose". Stepping into the green biomass on the banks of the St. Johns River in Northeast Florida -- dwelling with oak and magnolia trees, ferns and sandy soil, mischievous squirrels and dancing lizards -- will begin to engage the left side of our brains, where delight, and being present, and wordless worship come into play.
Through nature therapy, tangled thoughts begin to untangle, anxiety begins to melt into confidence and peace, and our ability to calm our thoughts and listen to God increases.
Connect with other women as we delight in God's creation together.
*This retreat is for women only.
*While this retreat is conducted from a Protestant Christian perspective, it is open to all women regardless of religious background. Let us all delight together with open hearts.
Marywood is a Retreat and Conference Center owned by the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine. Marywood’s desire is to aid in the process of spiritual renewal and faith development, and are available to the wider interfaith community.
Marywood rests on the St. Johns River just minutes from Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Florida. Its 100 acres of beautiful tranquility is accented with towering live oak trees and gardens making it a perfect locale for nature therapy and Christian contemplation with Return Refreshed.
We have reserved a 20-room villa for our exclusive use during our retreat. Enjoy newly renovated hotel-style rooms, an executive chef and dining room at our disposal, beautiful grounds, historic chapel, dock on the St. Johns River, picnic areas, walking trails, and stations of the cross. After just a few moments on the grounds, you will feel the peaceful surroundings take their effect, helping you to release your cares and begin your retreat experience.
Forest/nature therapy is not a hike, it is not a naturalist walk. It is a relational connection with the natural environment, which has profound effects on the human brain, body, and spirit. It is available to people of all mobility levels and requires little to no athletic ability.
"Forest Therapy is a research-based framework for supporting healing and wellness through immersion in forests and other natural environments. Forest Therapy is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which translates to “forest bathing.” Studies have demonstrated a wide array of health benefits, especially in the cardiovascular and immune systems, and for stabilizing and improving mood and cognition. We build on those benefits and look beyond, to what happens when people remember that we are a part of nature, not separate from it, and are related to all other beings in fundamental ways."
- Association of Forest and Nature Therapy
During our retreat, our nature therapy experience will be enhanced by botanical blends from Nicole Francis, owner of a Healing by Nature. You'll get hands-on experience, learning how to formulate your own teas to support your various health needs as they arise.
Christian contemplation is a quiet, gentle practice that draws us into profound worship of our Creator God. It affects our thoughts and decision-making in everyday life, helping us to do all things for His glory, to worship Him in all we do. It is a practice that was modeled for us by the desert fathers, by John the Baptist, and by Jesus Himself during his time in the wilderness.
"Contemplation is very far from being just one kind of thing that Christians do: it is the key to prayer, liturgy, art and ethics, the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom—freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that comes from them. To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter."
- Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of the Anglican Church
Comfortable clothes for spending time in an outdoor environment
Sunscreen & bug spray, if desired (all-natural bug spray will be available for your use)
Towel, camping chair, meditation pillow, or yoga mat, should you prefer not to sit on the ground during nature therapy
8am: Morning Meditation & Worship with Alley
9:30am: Nature Therapy / Christian Contemplation with Erica
1pm: Create our own Prayer Rosaries (Episcopal Tradition)
2pm: Personal Time
4pm: Herbal Demonstration by Nicole
6pm: Evening Stroll
7pm: Community Time with Herbal Elixirs
8pm: Evening Worship & Contemplation