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This retreat is designed to be a tranquil, refreshing, “zero depth entry” experience for those of us who want to learn some forms of contemplative prayer. We’re planning times of explanation and instruction, along with times to go off alone to “practice” prayer.

Our Schedule:

9:25 Meet at Hopelands Parking Lot

9:30-12:30 Retreat in the Gardens

12:30 (optional lunch together at The Wilcox) and then drive home

What to expect:

Expect to drive to Aiken SC and back, expect a specially made retreat podcast to use for prayer on the drive, to be outside in a garden for 3 hours, expect times for going off to pray alone broken up with times of being invited to come back and share your experiences with others, expect spiritual directors to help explain and prepare you for the “alone times”, most importantly, expect to be surprised by how God may reveal himself to you during this time away.

What to bring/wear:

Wear comfortable, casual clothes appropriate for the weather and the outdoors, walking and sitting in a garden, bring a favorite pen and journal.

Consider also bringing: a water bottle and snack if needed, a Bible, a folding chair or blanket, bug spray/sunscreen, umbrella, money for lunch.

About the Prayer Labyrinth:

A labyrinth has a single path winding toward the center, which is visible anywhere from the circuit’s perimeter. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not meant to trick or confuse, it can be used as a winding prayer journey with the Lord. Each step takes you closer to its center, where Jesus awaits you. Representing growth and transformation, a labyrinth can confer a sense of clarity, peace, and serenity. Some call a labyrinth “a watering hole for the spirit and a mirror of the soul.” Learn more HERE and come to the retreat to try one. Want to know more about Labyrinths as a prayer tool? Check out THIS VIDEO.

About the Locations:

Wrapped behind a serpentine brick wall, under a canopy of ancient oaks, deodar cedars and magnolias, is Hopelands Gardens. Bequeathed to the City of Aiken by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin, this 14-acre estate was opened in 1970 as a public garden. Radiating throughout the gardens is a network of paths shaded by 100-year-old live oaks. It is believed that Mrs. Iselin planted the deodar cedars and live oaks which still grace Hopelands Gardens today. The lazy curves of the paths and the garden’s borders lead visitors throughout a wonderful variety of experiences sure to please people of all ages. More here: https://www.cityofaikensc.gov/parks-playgrounds-natural-areas/hopelands-gardens/

The Wilcox Inn, Restaurant, and Spa: https://thewillcox.com/restaurant/. If you’d like to consider taking the retreat up a notch. Consider spending the night at the Wilcox on Friday before the retreat or Saturday afterward. (Sounds like an amazing birthday or anniversary experience for a loved one).


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