When Grief & Beauty Collide

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We are saying goodbye to a beloved and sacred place. This week we welcomed and hosted our last group of participants to the annual Soul Care Experience held at the Aspen Ridge Retreat Center in Divide, CO. Aspen Ridge has been the hub for our ministry since 2003.

God gave Steve and Gwen Smith the vision for such a place. They searched, waited, searched and waited until coming upon this 35 acre parcel at the foothills of Pikes Peak. It was everything they envisioned! Two rustic cabins and an old barn, 12” deep with animal manure, would become beautiful spaces of hospitality for guests. Attention to every detail from the decorations, furniture, sheets, linens and dishes transformed the “the barn” into “The Inn.”

A magnificent fireplace was constructed in the Great Room to provide warmth and welcome by the crackling fire. Historic Antlers Cabin and Eagles Nest Cabin combined luxury with Colorado rustic, providing guests with comfort and privacy while feeling at home in the mountains. Later the Poustinia (meaning “little cabin in the woods”) was built as a place for solitude for one person to go away and be “with God.”

The Prayer Trail circumnavigated Aspen Ridge with 11 benches along the path for prayer and reflection. Beginning at the Reflection Pond by the water wheel, pilgrims ventured out with their Trail Guide, designed and written by Steve and Gwen, to help each person navigate the depths of their soul along the way. Later, the Labyrinth was laid out with Colorado ore rocks on the knoll overlooking the small lake and valley below. Many walked out their prayers on this Labyrinth finding God in and around them.

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Aspen Ridge has become a sacred place for many…a place of shalom for the soul. Weary and wounded pilgrims have come from all corners of the globe for retreat, rest and care. It has been our privilege to be their guides.

The team of ministry staff (past and present), housekeepers, caretakers and many volunteers who have come and helped make and maintain this special place are feeling the grief associated with saying goodbye, while also remembering the beautiful work of transformation that took place in so many lives here. We know many of you who have come to stay with us or work with us have memories embedded on your soul that mark a time when God was present here for you.

Please share your memories and gratitudes in the comments below. We are mutually encouraged through one another! As we grieve saying goodbye to Aspen Ridge, we also look with anticipation to the future as Potter’s Inn repositions and retools to provide and teach soul care more widely. We want to make it more available and accessible to anyone, while maintaining values of Intimacy, Beauty and Adventure.