The Place of Transformation

Transformation does not happen in a vacuum. A key ingredient in the transformation process is place. We are not Halloween ghosts floating through time and space. The soul's address is a physical body and every soul needs a place to experience change. Think about it with me. Remember back on some life-changing experiences that you've shared. Where were you? At the beach, in the mountains, attending church, with a friend, driving down some road, hiking a winding trail?When and if we really change, we always change in a place. A wonderful author, Robert Hamma has named these places, "sacred spaces". He calls them sacred because these are thin spaces--thin because you can see the sacred through them.Eleven years ago, my work changed. I left the place of church and entered the place of retreats. I came to the realization that for me, change was happening in me and in most of the people I worked with in places where they could focus, get a way from the buzz of life and cocoon in a place where they could think, feel and experience God's love in major and new ways. I am not saying that change does not happen in church--because it does. But when you think about it, Jesus never attended church like you and I do today. He used the thin places of forested Olive trees to disclose his deepest truths. He used the natural world of vineyards, lakes and mountain tops to reveal the deepest truth about himself and about those he loved. It always involved places.In these eleven years of focusing on this insight, we have set out to participate in the construction of a retreat---a cocoon for the soul. It's the retreat now known as Potter's Inn at Aspen Ridge, a 35 acre place--thin place near Divide, Colorado. I actually like the fact that our address is "Divide." At our dividing place many new, life giving decisions have been made that have resulted in transformed lives and changed hearts. Each heart has required a sort of spiritual cocoon to morph into something that they could not do on their own. They needed a place. They needed space. They needed a retreat.Where are the places God has used to change you?What special places to you call "thin" or sacred?What role have retreats--at any length impacted your life?What room in your home feels thin? What places do you long to go and experience?Fodder for the fire of this discussion on the role of "place" in our spiritual formation!StevePotter's

The Prayer Trail

Up at our retreat, we've created a trail which meanders throughout the 35 acres at Potter's Inn at Aspen Ridge. This unique trail takes you on a journey where you're invited to sit on twelve different benches to think, pray, ponder and consider.  Each bench has a different name and there is a guide available to all the pilgrims who choose to wander the trail.Here's an overview of the benches along the trail:1. The Gates. This bench is the first one and is located in a small 1/2 pasture that is lined with a fence around the grassy pasture. Here you sit and imagine going through the gates to God--to Jesus, our true companion.2. Preparation. This bench prepares you for the journey ahead. You stop, get ready and focus on PREPARING for the next steps of life. Here fathers have brought their sons; mothers bring their daughters to prepare for next steps into adulthood. People in vocational wilderness sit here to prepare for the next step in considering work. There are many events in life to prepare for.3. Contemplation is the name of the 3rd bench. It's by our ever changing lake at the retreat. You contemplate your relationship with God, spouse, friends and consider aspects of life that need some attention.4. The Ascent marks the journey up hill. Here you walk in a switchback manner up the mountain. You can read some of the Psalms of Ascent that the Psalmist wrote in our uphill times in life.5. The Cleft is my favorite bench. It's a rock that is split into by thousands of years of wear and weather. You're invited to sit in the cleft of the rock and imagine yourself being held by God. A nearby rock makes an altar ready to present some offering to God--perhaps yourself. Some have laid there and given their hearts to God.6. The Confession Bench is next. It's  a place where couples have sat and had long talks of confession which led to restoring intimacy in their relationships. Friends have sat here and confessed issues causing division. Sons ask for forgiveness from their fathers and daughters from their mothers. It's a hard bench to sit on sometimes.7. Adoration is at the Summit at 9,000 ft in elevation. Here you can see 3 mountain ranges and the most amazing of all are the Sangre de Cristo, the Blood of Christ Mountains, so named by the Spanish Conquistadors who said the mountains glow like blood in the sunrise and sunset. They actually do on clear days! It's a place of thanksgiving, worship and praise.8. Companionship is the bench in the midst of the grove of Aspens. Aspens never grow alone. They grow in community--as do healthy souls. Here friends go to talk, bond and connect.9. The Longing Bench, the most loved and hated bench of the Prayer Trail. You sit and work through your longings. Single women have spit upon this bench while some have renewed long, forgotten yearnings and desires of living a life of no regret.10. Perspectives: The place where you can regain perspective. Sometimes in life, you can't see the trees for the forest. At this place, in open spaces with 100 miles views, you can see forever and clear your head and heart.11. The Valley: In the midst of the journey down hill, the Valley bench is there for those of us going throug difficult and challenging times. Placed in a geographical cocoon of hills, you are surrounded and enclosed to consider the dark nights of your soul.12. The Erosion Bench: What do we lose as we gain? This bench forces you to consider things along the journey of life that you might have lost that you may need to reclaim, let go of, release and turn over to God.Signs along the way cause you to consider a thought and to help you focus.Prayer Trail guides and the Donation box are located in the brand new "Outdoor Recreation Center" just inside the Gates at the beginning of the Prayer Trail.Come and visit us at the Prayer Trail and walk it alone or with a friend or small group! To ensure your solitude, please make a reservation through the Potter's Inn Office: 719-264-8837