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"Walking inside yourself." A winter solitude

  • St. Johns Abbey Guesthouse Collegeville, MN United States (map)
(c) A. Furchert, 2006

(c) A. Furchert, 2006

"What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself...- that is what one must be able to attain."
           --- Rainer Maria Rilke

In the depth of winter, this cloister retreat offers you guidance into a time of rest and solitude: to read, learn, journal, contemplate, share, walk and rejuvenate. We especially invite those in-midst of life's transitions, at a threshold of life, in times of challenge or change, and also those who feel they have not yet fully arrived in the New Year.  As winter is a season of resting and deepening, in which life's forces work in hidden ways, our soul's winter solitude may be preparing us for new awakenings.

The weekend will be structured by guided practices for personal reflection, imbedded into the rhythm of the monastery, shared meals and gatherings, and sustained by the poetry of writers such as Rilke, Rumi, Hildegard and others. We will borrow some of the practices from our New Year's retreat to guide you into a time of solitude and reflection of what has been and what is yet to come.

Our winter cloister retreat takes place at the beautiful, modern and calming guesthouse  at St. John's Abbey, overlooking the picturesque lake and snow-bound forest. It starts on Friday, Feb 27th with dinner at 6 pm and ends on Sunday, Mar 1 at 3 pm. Check in Friday as early as 4pm to allow time for arriving and settling in and to take winter weather into account. Suggested Offering is 290$ per person, incl. your private room for two nights, all meals, guided practices and materials and our Friday evening reception. 

Our list is closed by now. Still we are open for your last minute request to see if we can accommodate you. Last minute request closes Feb 27 at 4pm. Click below.

Program Preview

Our winter solitude retreat takes as its theme a beautiful text by the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke on the different faces of solitude. 

Friday evening is meant for arrival, shared dinner, and an introduction to the monastic place, the days ahead and to each other. You can also join the monks in their evening prayer if you wish. After a reception at the fireplace and some poetry, we will enter the solitude of the night.

Our journey on Saturday, our day of solitude, is structured by seven guided practices for personal reflection, woven into the rhythm of the monastery, shared meals and gatherings and sustained by poetry, meditation and quiet ritual. Individual guidance and assistance will be available.

Sunday begins with some more time for contemplative reading and journaling, followed by an invitation for a long winter walk. Welcomed back with warm tea and a generous lunch, we will end our winter solitude with some shared reflections and a travel blessing.


Dr. Almut Furchert is a German trained philosopher of religion, and practitioner. She is currently a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Kierkegaard Library at St Olaf College, Northfield, MN. Her husband Chuck Huff, PhD. is Professor of Psychology and Computing Ethics at St. Olaf College and a practicing Benedictine Oblate at St. Johns Abbey. Both share their passion for monastic traditions and spiritual practices as well as for European thought and wisdom traditions.