Inspiring Posts

It’s Time

Lisa Larges (with Kara K. Root) Time is making a comeback. Thirteen months ago, time loosened its grip on us. Appointments fell off our calendars. Everyone went home. Before the pandemic, my mornings, like so many others, were ruled by the clock. Things were timed to the minute. I got up at 4:44. I don’tContinue reading “It’s Time”

Signs of New Life

Theresa F. Latini Signs of new life abound at the retreat center these days: birds chirping, perennials bursting forth from the ground, geese flying over the marsh, and guests slowly returning for overnight retreats. Last weekend, after a long hiatus, my daughter and her cousin romped through the fields once again. Watching them run whileContinue reading “Signs of New Life”

Pursuing Justice: Togetherness, Solidarity, and Vicarious Action

Chris Dorsey Retreat Centers contribute to the work of peace, justice, and healing in the world in a variety of ways. Throughout its history, Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center has sought to offer rest and renewal for persons and groups actively engaged in this work. Central to our mission, as an affiliate organization ofContinue reading “Pursuing Justice: Togetherness, Solidarity, and Vicarious Action”

Pursuing Justice: Christian Community and the Dignity of the Oppressed

Chris Dorsey Retreat Centers contribute to the work of peace, justice, and healing in the world in a variety of ways. Throughout its history, Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center has sought to offer rest and renewal for persons and groups actively engaged in this work. Central to our mission, as an affiliate organization, ofContinue reading “Pursuing Justice: Christian Community and the Dignity of the Oppressed”

The Gifts of Ashes and Dust, and a Life Well-Lived

Theresa F. Latini This past Tuesday at Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center we embarked on our annual Day Lenten Journey—a mini-retreat launching us into a season of reflection, humility, and generosity. It was a gorgeous and grievous day. I greeted participants gathered on Zoom from the front of our chapel with expansive views ofContinue reading “The Gifts of Ashes and Dust, and a Life Well-Lived”

Lip Service

Carol M. Bechtel This week’s blog continues the retreat center’s focus on “cultivating wisdom.” As Carol Bechtel described in her recent workshop, wisdom asks the questions, “What kind of person do I want to be in this situation? How do I live faithfully and well?” Wisdom asks those questions in light of the most pressingContinue reading “Lip Service”

Tell it Slant: The Good Republican/Democrat

Carol M. Bechtel Jesus is described as the “wisdom of God” in 1 Corinthians 1:24. What most people don’t realize, however, is that Jesus’ teaching had strong links with the Old Testament’s wisdom tradition. This post highlights his use of the parable—in this instance, the Parable of the Good Samaritan—as a teaching tool. It’s a methodContinue reading “Tell it Slant: The Good Republican/Democrat”

Choosing Joy

Theresa F. Latini Thirteen years ago, I left my first teaching position at one seminary in order to start teaching at another. A short time after my move, the academic dean at the first school called to tell me, “I so miss hearing your laughter in the building!” Recently, I started to miss my ownContinue reading “Choosing Joy”

Remembering as Resistance and Restoration: In Honor of Dr. King

Theresa F. Latini Today is MLK Day, a national holiday set aside for collectively remembering, honoring, and recommitting ourselves to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. This year I’ve been reflecting on the fullness and gravitas of remembering as an act of resistance and restoration. Remembering is at the heart of divine life. GodContinue reading “Remembering as Resistance and Restoration: In Honor of Dr. King”

When Words Fail

Theresa F. Latini I imagined writing a “Happy New Year” post for this week, highlighting upcoming events at the retreat center such as our workshop on choosing joy. Instead I sat at my computer searching for words adequate to capture this moment in our collective history. A pastor friend texted me a political cartoon: aContinue reading “When Words Fail”

Blessing for the Waiting Time

Theresa F. Latini Shalom, EleanorShalom, ZakariaShalom, LenaShalom, Oliver . . . That’s how my daughter’s first-grade teacher began class on Wednesday morning this past week. She went through all twenty-fix students, each one reciprocating, “Shalom.” They had been greeting one another in different languages for weeks. This personal address, however, stopped me in my tracks.Continue reading “Blessing for the Waiting Time”

Sabbath: It’s About Time

Travis West In last week’s Retreat Where You Are reflection, “A Sabbath (Re)Orientation,” I suggested that the Sabbath is more of a value system or a way of living than merely a day of prohibitions. The Sabbath is the “master builder” and we are its “apprentices” in the lifelong pursuit of wholeheartedness, presence, gratitude, andContinue reading “Sabbath: It’s About Time”

A Sabbath (Re)Orientation

Travis West The Sabbath is a cosmic gift woven into the fabric of creation from the very beginning of time—a gift that we desperately need today. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel revitalized Sabbath practice in American Jewish communities in the twentieth century with the publication of his magisterial little book The Sabbath. Heschel brings unique passion,Continue reading “A Sabbath (Re)Orientation”

An Astronomy of Grace

Theresa F. Latini Woven throughout a number of resources and posts here at Retreat Where You Are is this phrase: geography of grace. I first encountered this generative notion in “Placing Formation,” a lecture delivered at Austin Seminary by practical theologian Dorothy Bass. She defined geographies of grace as “place[s] infused with the grace ofContinue reading “An Astronomy of Grace”

Self-Empathy as Self-Care

Theresa F. Latini Like so many families, we just finished week three of online school. I say “we” because completing five hours of online assignments and video calls daily is not something that first graders manage on their own. Overall, it’s going well. My daughter has established a solid connection with her empathetic teacher, andContinue reading “Self-Empathy as Self-Care”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

Daring to Pray

Theresa F. Latini “Prayer is a very precious medicine, one that helps and never fails.” Martin Luther penned those words approximately 500 years ago, and they are as true today as they were then. Life has changed drastically for all of us in a very short period of time. Words like disaster and catastrophe andContinue reading “Daring to Pray”


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