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Let Heaven & Nature Sing: Advent Retreat – December 5th – 7th


Friday, December 5th – Sunday, December 7th, 2014

Bishop Booth Conference Center

CLICK HERE to download the registration form
tumblr n8xopshS1z1rrdiyeo4 r1 640Have you ever laughed out loud with delight watching an ant go about its work in the dirtying? Or been moved to tears when you’ve closed your eyes and silently listened to the breeze? Have you ever had a stone speak to you and looked around for Jesus? Have you ever noticed that all the world is a womb? That the bees, trees, birds, ants, soil, streams…are not just busy, but are all about life…sustaining life even in death? That in fact “earth is crammed with Heaven”? Would you like to? Then join us for a unique exploration of what it means to Let Heaven and Nature Sing.

“My work is loving the world…which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished”, writes Mary Oliver in her poem Messenger. This Advent, let our work and play, be about standing still and learn or relearn to be astonished by the natural world, which is infused with the Incarnate God. Through prayerful and playful music, song, silence, meditations, and hands on activities with nature, we will deepen the holy intimate communion we share with the natural world, God and one another.

This retreat is designed for hands-on experiential meditations with nature. Following our gathered time of song, music and spoken meditations, you will be invited to spend time with the natural world. All activities can be experienced either inside or outdoors. As always, allow the Spirit to guide you in what you need and how you will move through this time of retreat. Saturday evening will be a special musical meditation and offering with our song leader Will Burhans and harpist Dominique Dodge. Massage sessions of 60 minutes @ $60 will be available throughout Saturday’s schedule by Alissa P. Fromkin, Certified Massage Therapist. Sign-up for massages will take place Friday evening.


Retreat Leader: The Rev. Sherry Osborn is a priest and nature educator who loves to playfully and prayerfully share her sense of wonder and curiosity with others. Her professional life, ordained and secular, is woven with a delight of nature, people, song, stories and adventure. Sherry grew up in Vermont and she was formed by a family who played, explored and learned from the great outdoors. After years of work as Nature Educator Consultant, Camp Director and Education Director for the Adirondack Mountain Club, she was called to ordained ministry. She was ordained an Episcopal priest in 2003 and served nine years in parish ministry in both the Diocese of Massachusetts and Vermont. She now leads nature and spirituality retreats, supply preaches and is planting the Church on the Trail, Vermont. Sherry holds a Bachelor degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Green Mountain College, a Master degree in Outdoor/Environmental Education from Boston University, a M.Div from Yale Divinity School and a Certificate of Anglican Studies from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. She is currently employed at Wake Robin Life Care Community in Shelburne, VT. 

Chaplain: The Rev. Stephen Blackmer is chaplain and founder of Church of the Woods in Canterbury, NH and executive director of Kairos Earth, a non-profit organization dedicated to renewing the Earth by connecting conservation with spiritual practice. He also serves as Priest Associate at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Pittsfield, NH. Prior to being ordained as an Episcopal priest in 2013, Steve worked for 25 years to conserve the Northern Forest region of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and New York, including as president and founder of the Northern Forest Center from 1997 to 2008. He served also as director of conservation programs for the Appalachian Mountain Club and director of policy for the Society for the Protection of NH Forests. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Dartmouth College and Master’s degrees in both Forestry and Religion from Yale University.

Music Director: The Rev. Will Burhans is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and Pastor of the Charlotte Congregational Church, UCC in Charlotte, VT where he has served for 14 years. He has 3 CD’s of original contemporary Christian music and has developed and led Christian Kirtan chant services as well as written Taize-style chants that have been used in both local and denominational settings. Will’s crafting of contemplative prayerful music has been influenced by an internship program at a Benedictine Monastery in CT and his seminary years at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA where he graduated with an M.Div. Will is currently collaborating and performing locally with Celtic Harpist Dominique Dodge as they develop a repertoire of original ecologically-grounded folk duets. He is the father of three teenage daughters and husband of Vermont painter Tracy Vartenigian Burhans.

Dominique Dodge is a harper and singer based in Charlotte, VT. She is deeply grounded in the music and song traditions of Ireland and Scotland. Dominique has a passion for melody-driven dance music and creative, rhythmic accompaniment as well as for songs, airs, and 18th century harp music. She is a former Fulbright Scholar and graduate of the University of Limerick, from which she earned an MA in Irish Music Performance in 2012. She also holds a BA honors in Scottish Music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. Dominique has extensive experience in traditional arts education for students of all ages and abilities. She has a vibrant teaching practice and runs a monthly workshop series called the Champlain Valley Harp Gathering. She has been performing, recording, teaching, and organizing traditional arts events on both sides of the Atlantic for over ten years.


5:00 P.M. Social Time and Registration
6:30 p.m. Dinner & Announcements
8:00 P.M. First Meditation followed by Compline 

7:00 A.M. Wake up bell
7:30 A.M. Morning prayer
8:00 A.M. Breakfast
9:00 A.M. Second Meditation
9:30 A.M. Spiritual Counsel
11:30 A.M. Third Meditation
12:15 A.M. Lunch
1:30 P.M. Spiritual Counsel
2:00 P.M. Spiritual Counsel
5:00 P.M. Fourth Meditation
5:30 P.M. Holy Eucharist
6:00 P.M. Dinner
7:15 P.M. Musical Meditation/Offering followed by Night Prayer 

7:00 A.M. Wake up bell
7:30 A.M. Morning prayer
8:00 A.M. Breakfast
9:30 A.M. Spiritual Counsel
11:30 A.M. Holy Eucharist with Homily
12:30 P.M. Lunch – Closing Remarks
Depart by 2:00 P.M.
Massage’s will be available for $60/hour by Certified Massage Therapist, Alissa P. Fromkin. Sign-up Friday evening by 7:30. [9:30 a.m., 10:30, 11:30, 1:00 p.m., 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00]

Contact Michael Hechmer with any questions. (802) 878-3725,

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