The people around us, the communities where we live and work, and the planet we share all need us to show up as our best selves: clear-minded, creative, resilient, compassionate, present, and whole. But the pace and demands of everyday life make that tough to do, let alone just to catch a breath once in a while! You owe it to yourself, and to the bigger picture of which you’re a part, to step away from the frenetic pace and bewildering noise that keep you from living the whole, contributing life you yearn for.

We offer stand-alone retreats and retreat series around questions of calling and purpose, renewal and nourishment for the common good, and leadership development. See below for more details on our retreats, and please see the upcoming events for more information about retreats that are currently scheduled.

We’re also available to consult with you on retreat design and facilitation, to help you to tailor an experience for your organization’s needs and purposes.

Our Retreats

Birch Forest - Courage and Renewal Retreats

Courage and Renewal® Retreats

These retreats invite leaders to reconnect what they do with who they truly are, and enhance their vocational, emotional, spiritual, and physical wellbeing — which, in turn, revitalizes their callings and capacities to tackle the adaptive challenges we face.

Read more

Our retreats typically utilize the Circles of Trust® approach developed by author and educator Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage and Renewal. (For more information, please see the Center’s website  and Palmer’s book, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life.)

The retreats often follow a schedule that begins late Thursday afternoon, includes overnight lodging Thursday and Friday nights, and concludes after lunch on Saturday. The Milkweed Group’s skilled facilitators create a safe, quiet, and gently structured space in which the noise within us and around us can subside, where healthy introspection becomes possible, and community with others is nurtured.

Retreats often include a healthy mixture of interactive learning, individual reflection, small-group sharing, large-group dialogue, and expansive free time to explore practices that deepen participants’ growth and sustain communities of ongoing mutual support. They take place at beautiful nature-filled venues that are especially welcoming for small groups, which allow for the intimacy needed to create the Circle of Trust® experiences. Delicious and healthful meals, a spacious and well-paced schedule, and plenty of room for rest and renewal add to the sense of being personally cared for.

Journey Toward an Undivided Life

Explore Your Life’s Calling in a Time of Transition.

Who am I, really, and what is my calling?
As one season of life gives way to the next, wants to emerge in my life?

No matter where we are in life, questions like these don’t go away. In fact, as we move through the seasons of our lives they can take on new meaning and urgency. “Journey toward an Undivided Life” is a rare opportunity to pause from the frenetic pace of your regular days, nourish the connection between soul and role, and explore in fresh ways the Big Questions of identity, meaning, and calling.

Read more

Who am I, really, and what is my calling in life?

As one season of life gives way to the next, wants to emerge in my life?

What does the world need that wants to live through me?

How can I live, work, and lead with more intention, authenticity, and purpose?

No matter where we are in life, questions like these don’t go away. In fact, as we move through the seasons of our lives they can take on new meaning and urgency. And especially in the turbulent times in which we live, times of tremendous challenge – and hope — it is all the more crucial that we make time to renew our spirits and to re-connect what we do with who we are.

“Journey Toward an Undivided Life” is a rare opportunity to explore your own most profound questions of identity, purpose, and vocation; nourish the deep connection between soul and role; and renew your capacity to live, work, and lead from a place of wholeness and authenticity.

Grounded in the truths of your own stories and questions, and guided by the Circles of Trust® model based on the work of author and educator Parker J. Palmer, this Courage and Renewal Retreat invites you to step with intention into a place apart, to pause from the frenetic pace of your regular days, and to explore in fresh ways the Big Questions of your lives – questions of identity, meaning, and calling.

Change the World

Rekindling Your Calling and Sustaining the Courage to Lead®

This unique and transformative experience brings together a cohort of young adults across the course of a year for three weekend seasonal retreats (fall, winter, and spring/summer), supplemented by monthly peer-learning-circle video conferencing sessions and individual clearness consultations with a member of The Milkweed Group.

Read more

The world needs more people, no matter their context, role, or “official” title, to lead with courage and integrity. The Change the World program nourishes the heart and soul of leadership by helping young adults to:

  • discern and clarify their callings
  • develop trustworthy relationships
  • listen more deeply to the voice of true self, and to the contexts in which they lead, work, and serve
  • nourish key “habits of the heart” (outlined in Parker J. Palmer’s book, Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit) for fostering leadership
  • learn about, and cultivate capacities and skills of, adaptive leadership (see, for example, Sharon Daloz Parks Leadership Can Be Taught and Ron Heitetz, Leadership on the Line)
  • foster practices to sustain themselves and inspire others for the long haul
    work together to transform the institutions and communities they serve.

In large group, small group, and solitary settings, we will explore the intersection of our personal and professional lives, making use of stories from our own journeys and insights from poets, storytellers, scholars, artists, sacred texts, naturalists, musicians, filmmakers, scientists, and various wisdom traditions. Clearness Committees, a high-integrity and strictly confidential process of asking open and honest questions around a difficult issue within a small group, is often a key component.

Between and beyond the retreats:

  • Peer Learning Circles: Participants will convene by phone or web-based video conference in small (4-5 person) peer learning circles, which will meet for two hours each month between retreats. The Milkweed Group provides training and materials on how to conduct these circles, and once the circles are established they will function autonomously in the skilled hands of the cohort members.
  • Individual coaching/consultations: Each member of the cohort will also have access to individual coaching/consultation and spiritual accompaniment with Chris or another member of The Milkweed Group, monthly between the retreats (and, for a modest additional cost, for six months beyond the end of the series).

Additional Resources:

  • You’ll receive a bibliography of suggested reading and websites including suggestions of tools helpful in monitoring personal growth and clarifying values.
  • You’ll also receive a quarterly e-newsletter from The Milkweed Group, with information and resources to reinforce the learning, suggest healthy habits for self-care, and target focus areas of growth.
  • You’ll have access to optional Change the World alumni events (e.g., reunion retreats), and support from The Milkweed Group to implement ideas that come from your cohort.

Past retreats include:

  • Big Questions Retreat for First-Year Students
  • CALM: Creating a Life of Meaning (for sophomores)
  • Coming Awake, Coming Home: Reclaiming Our Callings and Connection with the Earth
  • Explore Your Life’s Calling in a Time of Transition
  • Explore Your Life’s Calling in the Third Chapter of Life
  • Growing into an Undivided Life — a spring Courage & Renewal® retreat
  • Home: Leaving, Staying, Returning: A Winter Sabbath Retreat
  • Journey Toward an Undivided Life: An Introductory Courage & Renewal® Retreat
  • Living on Purpose: Seeds, Seasons, and the Undivided Life
  • Relax, Reflect, Remake: An Annual Spring Sabbath and Renewal Retreat
  • Seeds, Seasons, and the Undivided Life: A Courage and Renewal® Retreat for Young Adults
    (also versions for mid-life/mid-career, and for 3rd chapter of life)
  • Soul Sustenance for Change-makers
  • STOP retreat (Sophomores Thinking On Purpose)
  • Turning to Wonder: Awakening to the Spirit of Place
  • Wintering Through: A Courage and Renewal® Retreat to Explore Your Life’s Calling in a Time of Transition