Area options for when you need some peace and quiet
If you had to abandon your summer travel plans, you may be looking for a different way to relax and recharge close to home. A change of scenery could be the perfect way to turn the page this summer, and the good news is that there are plenty of retreats right in the Rochester area—getaways of all kinds that can help you get out into nature, meditate, pray, socialize, or just be alone. If circumstances permit, you might even relish the chance to meet some new people (read: people you weren’t quarantined with!). And you can feel good about the options out there, because retreat organizers are working hard to respond to the challenges created by COVID-19, creating online alternatives when necessary, stepping up cleaning procedures, and remaining hopeful that summer will bring increased opportunities for safe recreation.
The Quiet Place
If you’d like to get away alone or with your family right now, check out the Quiet Place. “We’ve been social distancing for twenty years!” laughs owner Eric Moon. The Quiet Place consists of twenty well-appointed cottages and cabins in various Finger Lakes locations, and the idea, Moon says, is to “pamper people from a distance,” so a stay here is appropriate at any time in 2020. The accommodations come in various sizes, and there are stringent cleaning and disinfecting protocols in place. Learn more about the different offerings at thequietplace.com or call 657-4643.
Asbury Retreat Center
Asbury is a Christian retreat center in Silver Lake whose “hallmark is kindness and generosity to our guests.” The center facilitates retreats for both individuals and groups. In addition to community and fellowship, Asbury provides meals and an impressive array of outdoor activities, including team sports, canoeing, hiking, and a ropes course. There are special events for children, and a women’s retreat is planned for August. As of press time, Asbury remains optimistic about the summer season and offers a flexible cancellation policy with regard to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. Asburyuny.org or 237-5262.
This Zen meditation center in Springwater has been hosting retreats since 1985. The center is in a beautiful rural location and boasts miles of hiking trails. It hosts both weekend and week-long retreats and features a nontraditional approach to meditation with no rituals or required beliefs. The center provides simple yet comfortable accommodations for guests and vegetarian food. There is also an option to volunteer at the center in exchange for room and board. In response to the pandemic, some activities have moved online. Find out more at springwatercenter.org or by calling 669-2141.
The Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard is the home of contemplative monks who belong to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, also known as Trappists. The abbey offers both individual and group retreat experiences and encourages silence, participation in liturgical services, and unplugging from technology. The abbey is located in a beautiful natural setting in the Genesee River Valley. At this unsettling time in our world, people will be “looking for structured experiences,” says Mike Sauter, retreat house manager, and a silent retreat might be perfect. Plus the monks make famously delicious bread that you can buy on site (or at the grocery store). The abbey is closed at press time but looks forward to welcoming guests again as soon as possible. For the latest information, visit abbeyretreats.org or call 243-2220.
Chapin Mill Retreat Center
Chapin Mill is a rural retreat center in Batavia that is operated by the Rochester Zen Center. The multi-building complex includes beautifully designed gathering spaces and dormitory accommodations for more than fifty people. It is designed to be an ideal countryside space for quieting the mind through meditation. In-person summer retreats have been canceled for 2020, according to Bodhin Kjolhede, abbot and director of the Zen Center, but retreats may be possible in late fall if circumstances permit. In the meantime, he says, online programs offered by the Zen center are going “fantastic,” and they will continue to offer morning and evening meditation via Zoom.
For more information, visit rzc.org or call 473-9180
Carolyn Sperry is a freelance writer who lives in Rochester.