ROOTED IN MISSION: Gretchen Schodde had a dream to create a retreat center where people could experience renewal and deep well-being. In 1986, Harmony Hill opened its doors as a nonprofit retreat facility focused on wellness. In 1994, the cancer program was added to support those affected by cancer. In 2004 the Board made the courageous commitment to offer all cancer retreats at no cost to all. Having served thousands over 30+ years, here is one participant (now a volunteer house parent) who reflects on the transformative experience of a Harmony Hill Cancer Retreat:
“I’m in awe, every time I am lucky enough to be there surrounded by the people and the place. Every detail, every piece of the retreat is intentional – and there’s collaboration between the facilitators – such care is given to every detail. I’m amazed by how many different ways there are for people to find their transformation. Beginnings are scary, endings are sad, it’s what we do in between that counts and I’m always in awe by how many different ways people move to laughing, to connection, to wholeness. There’s the labyrinth, there’s the use of circles at the beginning and the end, in small group circles. There’s permission to relax and be. Time to go from where you are and where you want to be, and be in that space in between. That sacred space in between. It’s really beautiful to me.
There are so many lessons from Harmony Hill that I still refer back to. There are lessons on self-compassion, there’s the ability to see a cancer diagnosis and treatment, and healing as part of a bigger tapestry, a beautiful tapestry that is your life and without those pieces it would be incomplete. So that wholeness is huge. There are lessons on resilience that are learned and I take forward. I don’t really have words for how huge it is. Peoples wholeness, you know there’s the physical healing, no evidence of disease but there’s the whole rest of a person’s life to make it possible for people to access that healing, is a huge blessing and I’m in awe, I’m in awe. “