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Prairiewoods Upcoming Events

Prairiewoods Knitters & Stitchers

Our Knitters & Stitchers group is getting a reputation it seems! It’s a good one though.

Here is one story we experienced recently. A woman named Debbie does the collections for Salem United Methodist. She is already on our list for this year’s distributions and will be picking up a box of donations on the 14th. She said she takes them to schools.

Because we add tags with “Prairiewoods Knitters & Stitchers,” a second woman at Salem called the Prairiewoods office requesting children’s mittens, hats, and scarves for Kenwood School. She remembered the tags last year. Sheryl is part of the Kenwood Neighborhood Association. Well over half of the pupils there qualify for free lunches and she is acting on their behalf.

Getting requests is great for us. We pack up our yearly items in November and distribute them to many local places. This includes Olivet Neighborhood Missions, Homeless Veterans, Mission of Hope, Young Parents’ Network, and HACAP.

We have given to many other groups over the years and it seems to vary each year. We have also given monetary donations to food banks, weekend backpack programs (now through HACAP), SPRINT (a Wellington Heights program), as well as Prairiewoods. This money is from the profits of the Holiday Bazaar.

We appreciate the use of a beautiful, peaceful location. The notices in your newsletter have been appreciated because they bring in many new knitters plus an overwhelming amount of donated yarn. All of our items are made from these supplies.

Thank you, Prairiewoods, for taking us under your wing. We have made many new friends, shared tips, taught techniques to beginners, and created a supportive group of companions.

—Diane Olsen, Prairiewoods Knitters and Stitchers

Posted Nov. 21, 2017

Did You Know-vember …

When we are out in the community, we often encounter people who have no idea that Prairiewoods exists. We also meet those who think we are a convent, a nursing home or a private club. To ensure that the greater community knows about all the resources Prairiewoods has to offer, we have embarked on a campaign called Did You Know-vember. Each day in the month of November, we are posting a new Prairiewoods-centered fact to our Facebook page.

Like us on Facebook to see each post and to join in the conversation. And in case you aren’t on Facebook, here’s a complete list of our Did You Know-vember facts. Is any of this information new to you? Let us know in the comments below!

Did you know …

that Prairiewoods was founded in 1996 to further connect spirituality with care for Earth? It was created in the spirit of theologians and writers such as Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, and it has developed at the forefront of eco-spirituality over the last 21 years!

that Prairiewoods was founded in the Franciscan tradition? St. Francis of Assisi is known for his love for and kinship with the natural environment and for his beautiful canticles in praise of Creation. People of many faiths are drawn to St. Francis through our shared love of the environment!

that Prairiewoods offers about 400 programs and retreats each year to help you explore ecology, spirituality and holistic health? For a current list, check out our events on Facebook, visit www.Prairiewoods.org or read our newsletter!

that the Prairiewoods Guest House and Hermitages offer a place to unplug and experience quiet, reflection and prayer at the low price of $55 per night? Book now to get away for a few relaxing, rejuvenating nights!

that the items in the Prairiewoods Gift Shop are carefully curated to provide you with current and classic spirituality books, fair trade and eco-friendly items for your home, and cards and gifts that feature local images? Check it out any time the Center is open!

that Prairiewoods has more than 2.5 miles of wood-chipped walking trails that are open to the public and pets? You are welcome to walk the trails any time you need to get outside, connect with nature or commune with God through this great Creation!

that the labyrinth is a prayer and meditation tool found in medieval churches as well as at Prairiewoods? We have a beautiful outdoor stone labyrinth that all are welcome to walk, as well as an indoor labyrinth available for rent.

that Prairiewoods has several meeting spaces for rent that accommodate 2 to 70 people? Your business, church or other organization can host workshops in the natural beauty of Prairiewoods with a variety of extra comforts, like healthy meals made on-site and overnight lodging.

that the Prairiewoods Art Room is stocked with a variety of art supplies? You are welcome to grab some pastels, markers or paints and get creative, either in the beautiful natural light of the Art Room or on one of the many benches that dot our 70 acres of woods and prairie!

that Prairiewoods has 100 solar panels that provide about 45% of the electricity we need in the Center? The sun’s power also heats the water used in the Guest House, powers everything in the Hermitages and even heats a Hoop House in our Green Prairie Garden!

that three of Prairiewoods’ six foundresses are still on staff 21 years after they started this retreat and conference center? They offer a wonderful continuity of vision to our mission-focused offerings, such as retreats, programs, spiritual direction and holistic services.

that the Prairiewoods Media Center is a full lending library, currently offering 3,783 different books on topics ranging from ecology to women’s spirituality, theology to Pope Francis? Check it out the next time you need a good read or a great resource!

that Prairiewoods hosts an annual Holiday Bazaar on the Saturday before Thanksgiving? This features handmade gifts from a number of local artists and is a great way to kick off the holiday season. Join us this Saturday, Nov. 18, for this year’s Holiday Bazaar!

that the Prairiewoods staff is comprised of both lay people and sisters? (At this time, twelve lay people of various spiritual backgrounds and six Catholic sisters make up our staff.) We welcome people of all faiths, at any point on the spiritual path!

that Prairiewoods partners with Metro Catholic Outreach (MCO) to tend our huge Green Prairie Garden? Together, we harvest about 2,000 pounds of produce each year! This food is used in meals for our guests and given to families in need through the MCO food pantry.

that almost 200 volunteers donate 5,000 hours of their time to Prairiewoods each year? They help with office work, special projects and mailings, kitchen cleanup, housekeeping and laundry, hospitality, outdoor land maintenance and gardening. Call us to get involved!

that Prairiewoods offers more than 800 holistic services each year, including massage, reflexology, healing touch and guided meditation? If you can’t choose just one service, join us for our popular Day of Self Renewal—a full day of pampering offered each month!

that Prairiewoods’ six trained spiritual directors offer more than 1,500 spiritual direction sessions each year? Spiritual direction is an ancient Christian tradition that provides you with a companion on your spiritual journey, someone to listen and ask questions. Call to see how it can help you!

that Prairiewoods has a traditional sweat lodge on site and works with local Native Americans to offer frequent Sweat Lodge Ceremonies? This ceremony predates recorded history and is focused on prayer, purification, recognition and healing.

that Prairiewoods has on-staff chefs who prepare meals for our guests, mostly from local, organic ingredients? In fact, you can feast on a fabulous holiday harvest meal at the Y.O.L.O. (Your Other Lunch Option!) Lunch on Wednesday, Dec. 6!

that Prairiewoods’ 70 acres are home to a huge variety of wildlife, including birds, snakes, insects, rabbits, squirrels, owls, turkeys, red foxes, groundhogs and our beloved deer? Take your family on a walk through our trails and see how many species you can spot!

that Prairiewoods offers about 25 organized group retreats each year? These range from week-long silent directed retreats to weekend forays into writing, social activism, yoga and meditation. Find a retreat that calls to you at www.Prairiewoods.org/Group-Retreats!

that a number of groups host their annual creative workshops at Prairiewoods? Our meeting spaces and Guest House witness the creativity of everyone from quilters to yoga practitioners, embroiderers to writers. Come see how these grounds encourage your creative side!

that Prairiewoods has a beautiful Meditation Room? The floor-to-ceiling windows facing the woods encourage contemplation, prayer and meditation in a quiet, serene setting. You are welcome to write your intentions in our book for continued prayer by our staff and volunteers.

that Prairiewoods was founded on a deep love for Earth? Because of that, we take ecology very seriously! Our extensive green features include solar panels, green-cleaning practices, a solar-heated hoop house and a holistic land management approach.

that the Eastern Iowa Heirloom Quilters Guild created the stunning quilts that grace the Prairiewoods Guest House? Thanks to their generosity with their time and talents, all 33 beds in the Guest House are warmed by their loving creations!

—Andi Lewis, Prairiewoods marketing coordinator

Posted Nov. 7, 2017

Images of Hope

After releasing the 2017 Retreats Brochure, Prairiewoods received a lot of positive feedback on the cover art, which was created by Dutch artist Coby van den Heuvel. The bright colors, mesmerizing spiral and intricate patterns from nature were captivating, and you responded. Thanks for letting us know how much you liked it!

Because of that feedback, we realized that the Retreats Brochure, which is delivered to 10,000 homes, is being noticed and read. So why not use it to feature a local artist and an image from Prairiewoods’ 70 acres of natural beauty? That’s where you come in8! Prairiewoods invites all photographers and artists to capture Prairiewoods Images of Hope!

Do you have an eye-catching photo or piece of art you took or created at Prairiewoods that shows inter-connection or hope? Have you captured a beautiful rainbow, an intricate spider web or intertwined trees? Do you have evidence of an inter-species friendship or new life? Feel free to think outside the box!

Submit your favorite photo or artwork to Prairiewoods for our Images of Hope campaign. The entry that we feel best captures hope or inter-connection will be featured on the cover of the 2018 Retreats Brochure. Even if your entry isn’t chosen, it may be used for future marketing efforts with credit to you as the photographer. Entries should be emailed to me as high-resolution images by Oct. 16.

So get creative, and capture Images of Hope!

—Andi Lewis, Prairiewoods marketing coordinator

Posted Sept. 12, 2017

Sweetgrass Flute & Nature Festival

Come hear the voice of the land! The third annual Sweetgrass Flute & Nature Festival is coming to Prairiewoods Sept. 29–Oct. 1. This free, family-friendly festival includes live performances by internationally renowned musicians specializing in the music of Native American–style flutes and world flutes.

Unlike any other event in the Midwest, Sweetgrass offers abundant opportunities to immerse yourself in indigenous music, nature and mind-body-spirit wellness. Participate in a variety of workshops for the whole family to experience inner transformation, learning and fun! Then stroll through vendor village to find great food, one-of-a-kind crafts, handmade flutes, essential oils, nature-inspired jewelry and more.

The festival culminates Sunday afternoon, with Prairiewoods’ popular Blessing of the Animals. Bring every member of the family—even those with fur, wings, scales and fins—to this annual celebration in honor of St. Francis, the patron saint of ecology. This family- and pet-friendly celebration honors our connection with animals, Earth and all of creation. Sweetgrass concerts, workshops and vendors will be available starting at 11 a.m., as well as children’s activities at noon.  At 3 p.m., join us for a tribute to Earth, our common home, as local organizations share positive stories about ways they are caring for Earth, followed by the Blessing of the Animals.

Details
The festival features live performances by eight critically acclaimed musicians specializing in indigenous and world flutes.

Workshops will teach you everything from mandala painting to smudging, yoga to didgeridoo playing. Come play and learn!

Vendors offer handmade flutes, local food, organic and natural items, arts, crafts, jewelry, stones, essential oils and so much more!

Sunday’s Blessing of the Animals allows you to include your favorite four-legged, winged or slithering family members in the fun!

Schedule
Friday, Sept. 29, 5–9 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 30, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 1, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. (Blessing of the Animals at 3)

Visit www.SweetgrassFest.com for complete details, including schedules for concerts and workshops. This unique, nature-focused music festival is one your whole family will love!

—Emy Sautter, Prairiewoods staff

Posted Aug. 29, 2017

Practicing Yoga at Prairiewoods

Hatha Way Yoga has been at Prairiewoods for almost 4 years now, and it has been an effortless recipe for calm and well-being. Created by the simplicity and beauty of a natural setting coupled with down to earth and loving people—I can’t think of a better place for yoga!

Check out our schedule here. We haven’t had many changes to the schedule in the past few years, but this year we decided to move the chair classes from 4:15 p.m. to 10:45 a.m. Also, beginning July 1, we are cancelling the evening classes. We are hoping these changes will give more folks the opportunity to attend without exhausting me! The chair classes are meant for adults with limitations, such as knee, hip or shoulder issues, who still need flexibility, balance and improved range of motion. Chair yoga is the perfect place to start for those who are fearful or cannot get up and down from the floor easily.

Also, this year, I am excited to host my first Yoga Retreat at Prairiewoods! The Joy of Yoga will be a weeklong retreat, July 24–28. If you haven’t attended a yoga retreat, I promise, a week filled with yoga, meditation and general feel-good activities is the best way to refocus and pamper yourself! Please check it out on the Prairiewoods website.

Hoping to meet you on the mat! Namaste!

—Cindy Hathaway, Prairiewoods program facilitator

Posted June 20, 2017

 

Transformational Singing Bowls

Kathy Broghammer offers regular opportunities to pray and relax with the sounds of singing bowls at Prairiewoods. (Find some upcoming opportunities on our calendar.) Here is her take on the experience …

I become an open vessel, one with the bowls. Allowing the vibrations of the bowls to settle in, releasing tensions, calm my mind, and soothe my soul. I give myself space, connecting with the Divine within. I listen, RECEIVE, melt into peace. Allowing this sense of well-being, I become a better healing vessel for the world, to BE a healing presence for others.

The Himalayan and crystal elemental bowls must be experienced to fully appreciate. Others have commented on their transformational and nurturing experiences. Offering opportunities to others to have these experiences is heartwarming and enriching. Playing my singing bowls brings me great joy, whether it is at a spiritual retreat center, yoga studio or private session.

—Kathy Broghammer, Prairiewoods facilitator

Posted March 28, 2017

Echoing a Song is Somewhere to Begin

A song is a gardener
It picks up a shovel and starts to dig.
Tenderly tips the blade into the burnt and brazed,
Crusted, cranky, depleted, impenetrable soil
at the surface of the heart

Tosses and turns over and around all the scraps, remnants, remains,
All the crap, cruelty, and craziness
Amending, softening, sifting
Activating, aerating, enlivening

A song is a seed
It is not derailed, discouraged, deterred by gated, guarded hearts
It finds every shortcut, crack and crevice
It flits, floats, meanders, winds, works its way in
Wakes us up to what is and what can be

It will knock down the wall and fashion a bridge from sundered stone
Enter the soul’s secret garden
Subtly scatter seed

A song will not change a policy, re-write the laws, topple dictators,
End discrimination, stop deforestation
House the homeless, feed the hungry, heal the land

The singing of songs, the piping of poems,
The drumming, dancing, delving, digging, delighting, daring,
Beautiful boldness of art
Will merely crack open the hard shell
of the dormant heart

And hearts awakened
are unstoppable.

May a song, a story, a poem, a painting, a puppet
Tap you on the shoulder
Trickle to your heart
Invite you to Dance
Ripple, rhyme, resound
a pebble tossed
an echo of peace

—poem by Sara Thomsen, Prairiewoods facilitator

 

Sara Thomsen will be the musician for Consciousness & Christogenesis, Prairiewoods’ annual Spirituality in the 21st Century event May 5–6, 2017. Learn more about this chance to find hope for emerging wholeness here. Also be sure to check out Sara on her website or listen to her song Somewhere to Begin on YouTube!

 

Posted March 14, 2017

Leaf through the Last Year at Prairiewoods

Otis & Friends 2I’m Otis, Prairiewoods’ favorite squirrel, and I’ve taken over this blog for 2016 in honor of Prairiewoods’ 20th anniversary. You’ll hear from me or one of my friends each Friday.

As 2016 wraps up, Prairiewoods looks to the future …

Dear Friends:

The sign at the entrance to Prairiewoods says, “All are welcome.”

If you have been to Prairiewoods, you know that by welcome, we mean the warm hospitality so deeply rooted in our Franciscan heritage. And when we say all, we mean people of any culture or background, on any spiritual path. Truly, all are welcome!

As a friend to Prairiewoods—guest, program participant, retreatant, volunteer, donor, neighbor—you have personally experienced this welcome. More than that, you have contributed to the atmosphere of peace and healing that has transformed so many lives in our first twenty years!

You have helped Prairiewoods impact the environment, change lives and renew spirits—and we are truly grateful!

What Prairiewoods has to offer is vitally important: 70 acres of woods and prairies in which to reconnect with nature and experience the interdependence of all creation; programs and retreats that focus on spiritual growth, renewal and understanding; a generative community co-creating a shared future and holding space for what is emerging.

2016 Annual Report - coverIn a turbulent and rapidly changing world, our community needs Prairiewoods. Your gift can ensure that Prairiewoods remains a place of peace and transformation by helping us present a rich and varied slate of retreats and programs, while also keeping the cost to participants affordable. Plus, your gift now is automatically multiplied by a donation of matching funds through our Rooted & Growing campaign, so this is the perfect time to donate. Thank you for contributing to Prairiewoods’ welcoming spirit!

Peace and all good,
Jenifer A. Hanson, Director

 

Highlights from the Last Fiscal Year

Aug. 2015: Celebrated Pope Francis’ eco-encyclical Laudato Si’ with Praise Be series of programming focused on eco-spirituality

Sept. 2015: Kicked off 8th annual Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) retreat that lasts 9 months

Sept. 2015: Hosted Iowa’s 1st native music festival with Sweetgrass Flute & Nature Fest

Oct. 2015: Began hosting 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes

Dec. 2015: Provided meaningful gift-giving options at annual Holiday Bazaar and Cedar Rapids’ 18th annual Alternative Gift Market

Jan. 2016: Launched 2016 with announcement of 25 spiritual retreats

April 2016: Welcomed Diarmuid O’Murchu, MSC, and Peter Mayer to annual Spirituality in the 21st Century conference with 230 people

May 2016: Completed East Culvert Project to reshape eroded banks of Dry Creek to help our community with stormwater mitigation

June 2016: Celebrated our 20th anniversary with 200 friends at Garden Party fundraiser, raising $31,325 for future of Prairiewoods

Two Unique Gift-Buying Opportunities at Prairiewoods

Otis & Friends 3I’m Otis, Prairiewoods’ favorite squirrel, and I’ve taken over this blog for 2016 in honor of Prairiewoods’ 20th anniversary. You’ll hear from me or one of my friends each Friday.

Today I’m excited to tell you about two unique opportunities to buy more meaningful gifts for those you love this Christmas season …

2016 Holiday Bazaar LogoThe Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 8 a.m.–1 p.m. offers a variety of local, handmade items from distinctive vendors and showcases baked goods, jewelry, felted wool mittens and bags, pottery, water color paintings, and many other art forms. There will be 13 local vendors, plus amazing fair-trade items from developing nations. The Prairiewoods’ Knitters and Stitchers, who meet at Prairiewoods twice a month, will provide mittens, scarves and blankets, as well as kitchen and baby items, all hand-crafted with love! Come early for pastries and coffee in the Coffee Corner, or join us for lunch from 11 a.m.–1 p.m.

2016 AGM LogoTwo weeks later, the Alternative Gift Market (AGM) on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. offers a great opportunity to relieve poverty and empower individuals by learning about and supporting charitable projects locally and around the world.  An alternative gift is a humanitarian donation given in honor of a friend or loved one. Just like traditional gifts, they express love and affection, celebrate special occasions and show you care. But unlike traditional gifts, alternative gifts don’t contribute to the consumer stream and won’t be left to collect dust on a shelf. Honor a friend or relative with an alternative gift of food, medicine, livestock or education, in areas with great need around the world and here in our community. Thirty international projects and up to thirty local organizations will be represented at the market. Sales Exchange for Refugee Rehabilitation and Vocation (SERRV) will sell fair trade and hand-made items.  A bake sale will run all day, and lunch will be available from 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Change the world one gift at a time with gifts that empower the poorest of the poor on our planet to sustain life and to build a future for subsequent generations! For more information, visit www.Facebook.com/AGMCR.

African Women Empowered (AWE) will be present at both events. They feature hand-made items that support African women refugees in the Cedar Rapids community.  This year, shop alternatively at Prairiewoods and give gifts that have a local or global impact!

Happy Anniversary, Prairiewoods!

Otis & Friends 3I’m Otis, Prairiewoods’ favorite squirrel, and I’ve taken over this blog for 2016 in honor of Prairiewoods’ 20th anniversary. You’ll hear from me or one of my friends each Friday.

One such friend is Laura Weber, the associate director and retreat coordinator at Prairiewoods. Laura, like many who come to Prairiewoods, finds solace in a slow walk through the woods, a wordless discussion with nature. Here is her take on Prairiewoods’ first 20 years …

When Prairiewoods opened twenty years ago, the first retreat we hosted was a Silent Directed Retreat, offering guests a gracious invitation to come away to the quiet and rest. Guests were welcomed first and most hospitably by the land and the creatures who call Prairiewoods home. Pilgrims who needed respite were embraced by the trees, caressed by the gentle breezes rolling through the prairie grasses, and delighted by the deer peeking through the brush to see who these cerebral creatures were making their way through the woods. Butterflies and dragonflies alighting on the lily pads, bees buzzing around the wild flowers, turkeys in their rafters gobbling for sheer joy, frogs croaking in great chorus to welcome the evening shroud, and squirrels like Otis scampering through fallen leaves to hide their nutty stash were all welcoming signs of love and hope for the weary souls who came to this sacred place carrying too many burdens.

Soon, more people would come, and more, until thousands made their way each year to Prairiewoods for the quiet, to receive healing energy, to pray silently in the Meditation Room and to fall asleep listening to the owls and the locusts. They came to walk the Cosmic Walk, entering into the big story of the great Flaring Forth of the universe from the Font of Eternal Love and then finding their own place in the awesome magnificence of creation. They came to stroll through the gardens, and to breathe in the sweetness of lilac and jasmine, pine needles and pungent brown earth. They came to wind their way prayerfully around the labyrinth, in the midst of all life’s twists and turns, and to journey way out to the edges, only to find themselves at home in the middle of it all. They came to sing or dance, paint mandalas, beat drums, or sit peacefully by the pond or Dry Creek, mesmerized by the birdsong and the way the sunlight plays on the high canopies. Here is where they remembered their breath again. Here is where they found that “all is well and all manner of things shall be well.”

Laura and WolfieTwenty years later, Prairiewoods is still hosting sojourners seeking spiritual renewal, healing for body and soul, and sacred space for contemplation and rest. One guest put it this way:

Prairiewoods
This is a place of grace
A place resplendent with Queen Anne’s Lace
Along the gravel paths I trod
On my journey with my God
Show me the way, I pray
—Kathy Braun, SSND

As we celebrate this milestone in Prairiewoods’ history, we join with the choirs of creatures, the swaying grasses and the forest symphony, and we thank God for all good gifts and the wonder and joy of being alive! Thank you for joining in the dance!

—Laura A. Weber, Prairiewoods Associate Director and Retreat Coordinator