The Meaningfulness of Coming Home

Theresa F. Latini Last night at Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center, Katie Dahl played an outdoor evening concert for sixty of us. Dahl is a Door County folk musician (a singer songwriter to be more precise) who inspires, comforts, amuses, and challenges her audiences to live and love with humility and gratitude. Her lyrics,Continue reading “The Meaningfulness of Coming Home”

When the Earth’s Abundance and Ruin Converge

Theresa F. Latini Two sets of images of the earth converged in my mind this week: one of delightful abundance, another of apocalyptic ruin. At the retreat center, our peach tree grows on an old tennis court transformed into a garden and mini-orchard. It is not a big tree. Yet it yielded over 1100 peachesContinue reading “When the Earth’s Abundance and Ruin Converge”

Labor Day and Sabbath Day

Theresa F. Latini A long-weekend of play before the start of school, one last trip to the Minnesota State Fair, bargain shopping at our favorite retail stores, end-of-summer picnics with friends and family, and watching parades with marching bands blaring and kids freely running and shouting: these are but a few of the ways thatContinue reading “Labor Day and Sabbath Day”

Accepting the Uncertainty of Now

Theresa F. Latini Four months ago, as we began developing this initiative, Retreat Where You Are, we acknowledged this reality: “Life looks and feels different right now. You may be anxious about your new daily routine and the uncertainty of the future.” Here, in the United States, we had been living with the pandemic forContinue reading “Accepting the Uncertainty of Now”

How’s Your Surge Capacity?

Theresa F. Latini Earlier this week, someone was telling me how unmotivated he feels about his job, a dimension of life previously filled with purpose and marked by meaningful structure. Work once ordered his days. Now his job has changed dramatically due to the pandemic. It is disorienting to create new routines. It is tiringContinue reading “How’s Your Surge Capacity?”

The Paradoxes and Promises of Simplicity

Theresa F. Latini This past week Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center hosted an online workshop, “Simplifying Our Lives and Living Spaces,” led by Pastor Becca Ehrlich. Besides writing and teaching about Christian minimalism, Becca genuinely lives it. Her story of choosing simplicity through a variety of practices—e.g., a one-year fast from shopping, reducing herContinue reading “The Paradoxes and Promises of Simplicity”

On This Train Together

Kara K. Root My kids’ head of school, said the other night, at an online parent meeting: “If you could join me, adults, . . . in a small ‘pinky pact’ . . . when we read articles about students, ‘losing ground’ or ‘falling behind’, that we might take those metaphors and set them aside andContinue reading “On This Train Together”

The Gift and Necessity of Silence

Theresa F. Latini One of the most significant, enduring practices of retreats across different religious traditions is silence. I remember my first retreat at a monastery—I think it was Benedictine—many years ago. Silence was expected for all guests at all meal times and in certain buildings at particular times of the day. I found itContinue reading “The Gift and Necessity of Silence”

A Chorister’s Lament

Don C. Richter Introduction by Theresa F. Latini, Executive Director of Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center Yesterday I read an article titled, “Sing into the Funnel Please,” with a picture of a research physician doing just that. The article laments the loss of choral singing in Britain, citing instances in which the coronavirus spreadContinue reading “A Chorister’s Lament”

Blessing Masks and Those Who Wear Them

Theresa F. Latini Masks. I read about them a lot these days. Which means I think about masks a lot. I remind people to wear their masks at our retreat center. I make jokes – admittedly not very funny ones – about wearing my mask. I have two hooks by my front door for masks.Continue reading “Blessing Masks and Those Who Wear Them”

Taking out the Trash

Becca Ehrlich “The Human Starter Kit” In an episode of the TV show The Good Place titled “Best Self” (Season Two, Episode 9), the immortal being Michael is named an “honorary human” by his human friends and given a “Human Starter Kit” as a gift. He is thrilled. “Car keys! So I can lose them andContinue reading “Taking out the Trash”

Defining “Success”

Becca Ehrlich A few years ago, a pastor colleague of mine mentioned to me an interesting conversation he had with a church member. This church member asked him if he had any siblings. He responded, briefly describing the birth order of each of his multiple siblings. The church member then asked him: “Which of youContinue reading “Defining “Success””

Preachers of Justice

Theresa F. Latini I was eleven-years-old when I came home from school and declared to my mother, “I am going to be a preacher someday.” I don’t remember the details, but I do remember the visceral sense of a “calling” that I carried with me from that young age. I credit my belief in thatContinue reading “Preachers of Justice”

Values to Live By: Lessons Learned in L’Arche

Pastor Rebecca C. Freeman Twenty-two years ago, I packed up a couple of bags, boarded the train to Seattle, and began an adventure that forever changed my life. I entered the Lutheran Volunteer Corps and was placed as an assistant in the L’Arche Noah Sealth community. I didn’t know anything about L’Arche and was somewhatContinue reading “Values to Live By: Lessons Learned in L’Arche”

Rest: What’s Good for God is Good for You

Pastor Charlie Ruud A few years back while serving at Normandale Lutheran Church in Edina, I together with the ministry staff became increasingly aware of the vast pressures placed upon our youth to “succeed” or “achieve,” especially within the particular context and culture of our community.  Thus, we made the conscious decision to make theContinue reading “Rest: What’s Good for God is Good for You”

Finding our Place in an Ecosystem of Social Change

Theresa F. Latini Nearly two weeks ago, George Floyd died as a Minneapolis city police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Many of us living in the Twin Cities and all around the world have watched the video of his murder. We have heard his desperate final cries, “Please IContinue reading “Finding our Place in an Ecosystem of Social Change”

Go-tos for Traumatic Times

Pastor Rebecca C. Freeman Editorial note: Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center regularly welcomes groups who care for those who are most vulnerable and advocate for justice in our communities. We are grateful for the presence of these groups that are renewed and restored so that they can continue working for justice, peace, and reconciliation.Continue reading “Go-tos for Traumatic Times”

Surrounded by Love in Death

Carol Throntveit It does hit the heart, doesn’t it? The thought that we or a loved one might die alone, a victim of the coronavirus, quarantined, and unable to have loved ones sharing words of support and love. This feels devastating. When these thoughts strike me, I am moved to tears. And yet, I findContinue reading “Surrounded by Love in Death”

A Strong Bridge for Scary Divides

Theresa F. Latini Earlier this week Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center hosted an online mini-retreat, Daring to Pray in the Time of COVID. Fourteen of us gathered together through Zoom to remember that God listens to us, that God is moved by compassion to act on our behalf, that we are invited to prayContinue reading “A Strong Bridge for Scary Divides”

Mother’s Day Mourning (and, Celebrating)

Theresa F. Latini Today I’m remembering my first day on the job as executive director of Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center. It was Mother’s Day 2019. Three hundred people streamed through our doors, enjoyed a veritable feast while laughing and reminiscing, and relaxed outside amidst beautiful flowers, soaking up the warm sunshine. Over twentyContinue reading “Mother’s Day Mourning (and, Celebrating)”

A Guide to Retreat Where You Are

People go on retreats for many reasons—to rest, to heal, to learn, to grow—individually and communally. We all need the kinds of spiritual renewal, emotional regulation, and quiet intellectual stimulation cultivated by gifted retreat leaders. In the midst of our current pandemic, it is difficult (if not impossible) to participate in facilitated or guided retreatsContinue reading “A Guide to Retreat Where You Are”

Chemical Dependence in the Age of Coronavirus

Thomas Mullens Note: Recovery groups regularly attend Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center. Group members find serenity in this place of natural beauty and special support in taking time away to continue their journey of wholeness and wellbeing. We recognize that this pandemic has created special challenges for persons with addiction and offer this reflectionContinue reading “Chemical Dependence in the Age of Coronavirus”

Waiting for Easter

Kara K. Root I was “off” from work the last couple of days, which is a strange thing in these times, when we are all at home every second, and all the work, play, sleep, meals, fights, entertainment and rest happens right here, in the same space, with the same people. Every. Single. Day.  I joked beforehandContinue reading “Waiting for Easter”

Glimmers of Hope on a Long Bleak Saturday

Theresa F. Latini When I was a pastor, my favorite worship service of the year was Maundy Thursday: a remembrance of Jesus’ lonely persistence in prayer, his betrayal by a friend, and then his subsequent arrest. It was refreshing to name the depth of human suffering endured by God and the ways in which thatContinue reading “Glimmers of Hope on a Long Bleak Saturday”

The Gift of Mindfulness

Theresa F. Latini Three weeks ago, I felt my first spike of anxiety about the coronavirus. The retreat center was taking inquiries about cancellations. Pastor friends were deciding whether or not to close their churches. Family members, a number of whom fall into that high-risk category, were postponing previously scheduled, non-essential medical care. And thenContinue reading “The Gift of Mindfulness”