My wife, Ruth, and I just returned from a glorious week at Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico, where we were invited to present Inner Practices for Wellness for the annual Western Universalist Unitarian Life Festival (WUULF). I facilitated a wide variety of experiential activities for adults three mornings during the week, while Ruth worked her “magic” with the camp children.
Ghost Ranch: exquisite, captivating desert beauty amidst an enchanted state–site of several Georgia O’Keeffe paintings. Despite the intense daily heat, we managed to do some hiking and take a tour of the vast, mystical area. We were particularly enthralled (difficult as it was to single out one site) by the amphitheater seven miles down the road from our camp. During our equinox ceremony and celebration there, replete with singing, dancing and drumming, I found that natural amphitheater more spectacular than the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO. Ruth and I were awestruck by both the gorgeous rock formation and the sound quality. Opportunities to be challenged via nature hikes, river rafting, and swimming in the nearby river or lake abound at Ghost Ranch and in surrounding areas.
The Ghost Ranch Conference Center is a large, Presbyterian-owned compound that hosts a delightful diversity of events year round. Aside from the WUULF gathering that hosted us, we had the pleasure of interacting with students and faculty from Alma College (located in central Michigan), attendees of a conference on “Food and Faith,” a rugged blacksmith who was teaching his trade, etc. Several small museums and a library are among the many Center attractions, as are buildings for arts and crafts, a horse stable, etc. Every summer, a large group of college students from around the U.S. and as far away as New Zealand assist the permanent staff in many different on-site service capacities.
I saved the best for last. Ruth and I were really moved by the beauty of the WUULF community participants, numbering about a hundred-strong at the camp. Aside from our teaching, we had an array of opportunities to get to know and play with these lovely people, e.g. during meals (very good food and lots of it!), hikes, arts and crafts activities, communal prayer, song sessions, a talent show, etc. Re the latter, held during the final evening of the camp, Ruth and led a belly dance troupe, and I was one of two drummers for the women dancers.
We found the WUULF folks to be refreshingly open-minded, accepting and non-dogmatic. Typical of Universalist Unitarians around the world, they proved highly dedicated to social justice and to widespread service. They were sincerely welcoming of us and really appreciated our contributions throughout the week. Borrowing a “mom-ism” from my mother, we formed a “mutual admiration society” during this special window in time, for which I feel very privileged and am most grateful. The proverbial “icing on the cake” is some newly formed friendships, including with folks who reside in the Denver area—one family lives just a half mile from us!